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Day 12 – I am grateful to my sister for dragging me to Yoga class

Growing up in an East Indian household, Yoga was something reserved for crummy old uncles and aunties trying to lose weight. Any Indian kid I knew, any Indian kid worth their salt steered clear of anything yoga-related. My grandmother did yoga, so did my aunt. They made me do it sometimes with them. I kind of thought it was fun – but I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it.

So imagine my surprise when my sister insisted we sign up for a month of unlimited hot yoga (unlimited?!?) at the local yoga centre when I returned home for a visit this summer. Not only was she literally dragging me to yoga. It sounded like some torturous new fad. What the hell was hot yoga???

I went reluctantly, almost ran away again when I realized hot yoga was literally HOT… We were practicing inside of a sweltering room heated to unnatural degrees by a heater and humidifier rolled into one hideous looking machine. It was supposed to be good for your joints… or something.

Anyway, I started the session skeptically, but by the end of it I was like WOW! The workouts were gruelling, but there was nothing new about that. I’d done gruelling workouts before. What blew me away was that the entire time I was contorting my body into impossible positions in that dark, infernal studio, my mind was quiet. No anxieties surfacing, no fears, no thinking just a soft, worm void like a womb. Instead, I felt a sense of relief at not having to think. I’m a worry wart. My mind is constantly whirring, even when I’m trying to relax. The evil side of my brain is constantly whispering silent poison into my internal ear about ALL the things that are going to go wrong with my life if I take risks. I take risks anyway – and boy, do I pay the price listening to my inner devil.

Our instructor closed the practice with a few lines of gratitude for the support we take for granted – the ability to have been there in that room, the circumstances in our lives that make it possible to engage in leisure activities like this. She asked us to release all hurts, self inflicted and by others, to release our fears and let the universe take care of them. As corny as it sounds, the meditation had me sobbing uncontrollably by the end. The combination of moving muscles I had long ago forgotten how to, with the gruelling physical conditions and the utter mental peace gave me an overwhelming sense of relief that I had not felt in a long, long time.

Back in the real world, I felt rejuvenated, empowered and ready to take on anything that life throws at me. That month of hot yoga has long been over, but I’ve rediscovered a new sense of freedom in the practice of yoga that grounds me everyday. I’ve possibly turned into a crummy old aunty and I can’t believe how good it feels!

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaPWdvDiPaE&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

[message_box title=”Affirmation” color=”beige”]I’m grateful for a sister that pushed me to join yoga class. I am grateful for my old folks that took care of my little one while I indulged in daily hot yoga sessions. I am grateful for the luxury of time and money that allows me to afford such leisure practices that rejuvenate me. I am grateful for the physical and mental benefits of discovering this yoga practice. I am grateful for the amazing instructors at Moksha Yoga whose words had a bigger impact on me then they will ever know. Their words moved me to tears, they allowed me to introspect and think the scary thoughts that I was repressing. Their gentle support allowed me to think these scary thoughts in the safe-womb of that dark studio. I am grateful for the strong and supple body that allows me to continue to practice everyday. I am grateful for the steady mind that allows me to focus my thoughts. I am grateful for the breath that allows me to centre myself. I am grateful for the lungs that draw in oxygen and give me strength. I am grateful for the change in my food habits as a result of my yoga practice that allows me to nourish myself with clean, healthy food that keeps me nimble. I am grateful for the burst of energy I feel after a practice session. I am grateful for the increased mindfulness I experience as a result of practice that allows me to be fully present with my two year old. Most of all, I am grateful for this beautiful life I’ve been blessed with where I feel free, joyous and excited to begin each day with my daily practice.[/message_box]

 

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Day 11 – I am grateful for the people that make my life comfortable

I am grateful for the people that make my life comfortable

How many people make your life possible the way as it is? How many of them do you take the time to thank?

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It is Diwali in India and while most of India is exploding with designer sweets and consumer culture and firecrackers, I see some quiet acts of kindness too. Some people are quietly tipping, thanking and wishing the people that serve us.

I am grateful for the ability to afford so much help with maintaining my lifestyle. I am grateful for the support of so many wonderful people that show up everyday cheerful to do their job. Even on days where they may feel sick or dread work, they show up and do a good job of doing it. I am grateful for the cook that provides kind childcare even though it is not part of her job description. I am grateful for the security guards that guard our community. I am grateful for the kind old man guarding my little girl’s school who always spares a smile for her as she gets dropped off and picked up everyday. I am grateful for the pre-school staff that nurture my child everyday and allow me the luxury of a couple of hours to work on this website. I am grateful for the chauffeurs that drive me around the chaotic Indian roads so I don’t have to deal with that hassle.  I am grateful for the gardener that keeps our outdoor space manicured and beautiful. I am grateful for the government staff who work hard to process papers that allow me and my child to stay here. I am grateful for the farmers that toil under the harsh sun so that we may eat fresh fruits and vegetables to nurture our bodies. I am grateful that so many people rally to make my comfortable lifestyle a reality.

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This is for the one who drives the big bus, up and down the road.
Or the one out in the warehouse, bringing in the load.
Or the health aide, the mechanic, the campus supervisor on patrol.
For everyone who works behind the scenes.
With a spirit you can’t replace with no machine.

by Chris Gdowski, Adams District School Superintendent[/quote]

 

When you think about it, there are a ton of people that work hard everyday to make your comfortable lifestyle a reality:

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  • Cashiers who cash out my groceries quickly and with my smile. They make grocery shopping enjoyable and convenient.
  • Janitors who clean up after me at work and at home. They save me time and make my surroundings comfortable, clean and livable.
  • Garbagemen – who take away the garbage every week. Without them I would be surrounded by streets that are a stinking, disease harbouring mess.
  • Local Barristas who fuel my writing with their delicious beverages. They allow me to sit in a public place, watch people that inspire my writing.
  • Bank tellers who allow me to keep my money and valuables secure and who help me access these resources when the fancy strikes. They allow me the freedom to stop worrying about the security of my valuable possessions.
  • Housekeeper who cooks for us, cleans after us, watches our kids and serves us healthy, delicious meals. She allows me to work from home. Because if her, I  have the luxury to go out everyday without worrying about putting food on the table. Because of her, I can go on dates with my husband without worrying about my daughter’s dinner. Because she spends all day in the kitchen, I get to eat delicious, elaborate meals every day.
  • Chauffeurs who drive me around so I don’t have to deal with the crazy Indian traffic. They take me to play dates, lunch meet-ups, to my daughter’s school, to doctors’s appointments, to the office and even to visit friends and family. Because of these chauffeurs, I can travel without the hassles of driving myself everywhere.
  • Gardener who toils in the sweltering Indian afternoons, planting beautiful herbs, flowers and watering the soil so that my garden is always landscaped, beautiful and pristine. Because of him, I am able to enjoy the lush gardens on my property. Because of him, I’m able to dabble in my little Potager garden growing herbs, greens and edible flowers without having to lift heavy soil.
  • Preschool teachers who take care of my child everyday so I can have two hours of peace and quiet to do the work I need to go in order to keep this website running. They allow me to drop off my child guilt-free, secure in the knowledge that while I’m away from her, the teachers are kind role models to her, teaching her new, useful and interesting things about the world around her.
  • Security staff who guard the residential area I live in. They allow us to sleep at night, keeping us safe from thieves, hoodlums and robbers by staying up all night to watch out for our safety. Because of them, I feel secure, confident and protected from crime in our gated community.
  • Physicians who treat my family when we are sick. Because of them we enjoy quick recoveries, spending most of our time healthy, worry free and enjoying life to the fullest.
  • Farmers who work all year round to nurture crops of fruits and vegetables, then sell them to me for less than the price of most unhealthy, packaged goods. These incredible human beings undertake hard labor just so the rest of us can eat a clean, healthy diet.
  • Subway musicians who have always made my commute pleasant and interesting. There is one man in particular that has been embedded in my psyche. When I used to work in Oncology, there was a bearded, middle aged man who played beautiful, soulful violin tunes every morning and evening as I passed him by. Everytime I pass by Queen’s Park subway station, I remember him with fondness. I don’t know where he is, but I hope he’s still cranking out some badass music.

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This is just a cross-section of the people that help me in my life.

Today’s Task

Think about your life. Who is helping you in your everyday struggles? Have you thanked any of them lately? Maybe you’re not quite sure where to begin. Try looking through the list below for something that seems comfortable for you. Which of these words can you share with a service person that is helping you today:

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  • From friendship to mentorship to leadership, you have given this company a warm kinship in every possible form. Thanks.
  • I am sending you thank you note for your excellent services. My appreciation to your job is greater than the words I could express in this note.
  • I am very fortunate to avail your services and I am really happy that I had you for carrying out this difficult work. Thank you very much.
  • My words can never be enough to praise your actions because your work always meets my expectations. Thank you.
  • Thank you for all your efforts and dedication. Your sincere service needs all our encouragement and appreciation.
  • Thank you for being so committed.
  • Thank you for bringing your positive attitude to work every day.
  • Thank you for your excellent work and your support. You have really made my life more comfortable and have taken my worries away.
  • Thank you for your hard work and honesty.
  • Your enthusiasm is a personality trait that cannot be learnt and a skill which cannot be taught.
  • Your job was timely and very helpful. It deserves all my appreciation.

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You can find the entire list here.

 

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Day 10 – I am grateful for the daughter who reminds me everyday of the beauty that exists in the simple, non-material things

I am grateful for the daughter who reminds me everyday of the beauty that exists in the simple, non-material things.

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayJoUPyDQGQ&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]
[message_box title=”Affirmation Day 10″ color=”beige”]I learned this the difficult way. Although I have never been much of a shopper or consumer, I started buying clothes, toys and little knick knacks for my little one the moment I found out I was pregnant. I’d buy her stuff, especially toys and to my dismay, she never played with them. She didn’t so much as cast a second glance at them. She was more interested in my smiles, the cooing from other people, from banging pots and pans we already had to looking at my clothes and playing with my jewellery. It took me a long time to take the cue from her and stop buying toys. I have a cupboard full of play doh, barbies, stuffed toys, music toys, kitchen sets and a million craft activities from a time when I had yet to realize a fundamental truth that this little child already knew – the best things in life are often the simplest. A lot of times, they are also free.

So I started focusing instead on the funny faces, the hugs, the piggy back rides, the messy dough parties, counting and sorting beans, watching butterflies, growing a herb garden instead. And she started flourishing! Where before she was bored and cranky, she is now engaged and excited. She reminds me everyday to do the dusting by picking up the duster herself. She helps me sort laundry, she helps me water plants. She even helps me put her toys away. All of this without much prompting from me.

I am grateful for the simple lessons children impart. I am grateful for the insight that though she may be little in size, my daughter has wisdom that is far beyond her years, far beyond mine. I am grateful for when she calls me out on having double standards and being a hypocrite. Like when I force her to wear her indoor slippers when she comes home and wash her hands and feet before bed but forget to do it myself. Like when I eat junky cookies while telling her to eat her veggies. I am grateful she stops me in my tracks and forces change my behaviour so I’m closer to the person I want to be.

I am grateful for her sunny smile even when she’s hurt or sick. I am grateful for the unconditional love she gives me even on days when I am cranky, irritable, not at my best. I am grateful for the blessing of a beautiful child that reminds me every time of what’s most sacred in life.

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Teaching the right things to our kids is something I’ve seen a lot of parents struggle with. No matter how scrupulous you are, you always make a few parenting mistakes that you end up regretting. Often, these things may be issues we were struggling with ourselves while growing up. Melissa Fagan wrote a very thought provoking post about The (Super) Power of Gratitude:

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Lately, I’ve been coming to terms with my most worn-out childhood belief, the one that keeps me stuck time and again: the belief that I’ll never have or ultimately be enough. So when the ‘never enough’ tape started to play, I’d drown it out with gratitude.

Gratitude is fundamental to being ok with ourselves and who we are.

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Gratitude may be the antidote to feeling crappy about ourselves but there is a fundamental truth that I’m only just starting to realize:

We think we are the ones who raise our kids, nurture them and perhaps most importantly, teach them about the world. It is actually the other way around.  As much as we teach them to walk and talk, they teach us about life. No other human role inspires as much personal growth as that of a parent. In the end, we learn and benefit the most from our kids. Not the other way around. Our kids don’t need us. We need them.

That is something I want to keep in mind the next time I am feeling like I have to sacrifice a lot of personal and career opportunities to raise my daughter at home.

 

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Why You Need to Become a Morning Person and How to Do It

Mornings are sacred.

There was a time when humans rose and retired with the sun. For us, that meant better health, more energy, and more importantly for those of us concerned with productivity, more time early in the mornings to plan and work. We are no longer forced to follow the daily cycle of the sun, but the simple act of waking up early in the morning can literally revolutionize your work-life.

Mornings are the singular uninterrupted time during the day when you can do whatever you like, uninterrupted. Its like a mini-vacation during which you have the power, the energy, the drive and the resources to accomplish the most difficult tasks of your day.

Why, then are so many of us struggling with waking up late, squandering our mornings and not living up to our potential? A lot of it comes down to planning.

If you don’t plan for work in advance (check out this post on using planning) then you end up just going with the flow and most times the flow means you are just lounging around being ridiculously unproductive. Using your mornings wisely can make all the difference between staying on task throughout the day and fumbling about without any apparent purpose.

 

Benefits of being an early bird

Clarity of thought. Your mind isn’t bogged down, distracted or confused with worldly things first thing in the morning. You can use that focus and momentum to knock out a huge chunk of your work first thing in the morning.

No interruptions. No colleagues emailing you or calling you  with “urgent” queries, no employees coming to you for more budget allocations, no friends inviting you to random events on Facebook

More will power.  Will power is highest at the beginning of the day and goes down as the day goes by, so focusing on your health and productivity first thing in the morning makes inherent sense.

Increased motivation. If you wake up in the morning and accomplish important tasks even before others are starting to wake up, that motivation carries you through the workday and gives you an energy boost better than coffee or redbull would.

More time in the day to do what you need to do. This is self explanatory.

Peace and quiet. Experiencing the solitude of the early morning hours helps ground you and put problems in to perspective. Your whole day starts on a calm note.

Setting an example for others. Getting to work early in the morning with a positive attitude shows how seriously u take your work. As a boss and employer, that speaks louder than any training. You don’t need to pay someone a ton  of money to motivate your employees, you just have to be a role model for the behaviours you want to promote.

 

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[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]You can always strive to get out of bed a little earlier.  you could get right to work, or for something personal like working out. Use commutes wisely – no one is competing for your attention. Tim Cook, Apple[/quote]

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Working out early on monday (even if it seems too busy). It’s a way of making yourself a priority when you otherwise wouldn’t. Plus, you’ll have a clear head and the accompanying endorphin rush, which always helps make otherwise dreadful Monday mornings cheerier. Barack Obama[/quote]

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, you’ll have it behind you for the rest of the day.  Mark Twain[/quote]

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]I normally walk her for about an hour in the morning. It’s the only time of day I get to myself. Joanna Coles, the Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine[/quote]

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]I’m really not a morning person at all. It’s just sheer determination. I’m very strict with myself. When I practice six days a week and eat clean food, I feel much better. Gwyneth Paltrow[/quote]

For more quotes like these, check out the original articles they were excerpted from.

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So how exactly do successful people use mornings to stay on top of their game and power through the rest of the day?

Emails.

Some experts say you should tackle your email the first thing in the morning. Some say don’t. I say do what works for you. If you’re the type of person that gets derailed when someone jumps in with an item on their agenda, where you quickly give up your own to help the other person, then definitely, don’t check your emails. But if you’re the kind of person that can shut out other people and look at your priorities effectively, then starting the day with an email is a perfectly natural way to plan for the hurdles you will be up against later in the day. By checking your email you are alerting and preparing brain for the things to come. For years I used to avoid checking emails because I always ended up getting side tracked by someone else’s demands. Until I realized that every time I missed an important memo and a colleague asked me about it, I risked looking like an incompetent baboon. So check your emails. Just don’t get so engrossed that you forget to do your work.

Calendar.

You can use email to plan your day out, or you can skip it altogether by penciling in your most important priorities first. This way, when you are bombarded by external demands and gripes, you always have that perspective on what your priorities are. Planning is also important in helping you pace yourself so you’re not burned out, or taking it too easy.

Doing difficult things first.

If its good enough for Mark Twain (see the quote below), its good enough for you. Start the day with the most difficult tasks. Laura Vanderkam, author of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, talks about experts and millionaires with morning habits and how they impact their lives. She cites a study by a Florida State University professor named Roy Baumeister. They found in this study that will power is like a muscle that becomes fatigued from overuse.  So make the most of your reserve of will-power in the morning to blast through some of those giant tasks that you’re afraid to touch, but you know you have to at some point. In fact, the sense of achievement from having dealt with that monster first thing in the morning will keep you powered through the rest of the day, breezing through it because the headrest part is, literally, already behind you.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]”Diets come undone in the evening, just as poor self-control and lapses in decision-making often come later in the day. On the other hand, early mornings offer a fresh supply of willpower, and people tend to be more optimistic and ready to tackle challenging tasks.” -Prof. Roy Baumeister as cited in What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast[/quote]

Rejuvenation.

If you don’t take care of your physical and mental needs, you will burn out at some point. Its so obvious on paper (or screen), isn’t it?

If powering through the crummiest tasks of the week is too much of a herculean feat for you in the morning, try relaxing instead. Go for a walk, indulge in some yoga or meditation which, incidentally, is also good for regulating your hormones and really getting into the optimum physical and mental space for working.

Last summer, I visited my family in Toronto where my sister dragged me to a hot yoga class. I loved it so much, that every morning, I’d hover over her bed and wake her up unceremoniously to go attend the 7 am class. We were working on this start-up at the time and I found that after yoga, a shower a light meal, I was totally primed for some marathon writing and creative action. I got so much more done when I took an hour out for myself in the morning. More than I had in the last two years of trying (and failing) to get content up on this website. Go on. Try it yourself.

Labor of love.

Do something you love. A side project. That dream book you plan to write. The guitar lessons you’ve been putting off. Whatever your passion is that you’ve saved up for the proverbial ‘someday’. Starting the morning with something you love can have the same motivating effect as tackling an unsavoury task first thing in the morning. What you’re aiming for is that sense of achievement when you do something you don’t normally do.

Food.

Mornings are a perfect time to plan out healthy meals. Of all the things we know are good for us, this is the one that falls to the way-side when we are busy getting through the buzz of life. I once knew a girl who had a tattoo on her arm that said “food is fuel”. Indeed, food is fuel. You don’t expect your car or lawn mower to run on the wrong kind of fuel. Why would you expect that of yourself? Greens, beans, fruits, grains, vegetables and lean protein. If you’re upto it, use your mornings for a quick mental check for what healthy meals you will be eating for the rest of the day.

 

Here is an excellent excerpt from Personal Development Guru Robin Sharma’s website on how to wake up earlier in the day:

1) Don’t eat too late in the day, it will help you sleep more soundly.
2) Jump out of the bed and start your day as soon as the alarm clock goes off.
3) Get into the best shape of your life. When you’re working out, you sleep better, wake up fresher, and getting our of bed earlier gets easier.
4) I love this one – Set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Raising the bar and striving for a personal dream will fire u up and give you something to look forward to in the morning.
5) Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than your usual wake up time.

Robin Sharma ends his post with the following words:

“Get up early. I dare you to do it for a few weeks. Your life is too precious a thing to waste. You know you were meant for your own unique form of greatness. You know you can do more, have more and be more. You know that you can be bigger than you currently are. So join The 5 O’Clock Club. Win The Battle of The Bed. Put mind over mattress. Get up early.  And as Benjamin Franklin once noted: “there will be plenty of time to sleep when you are dead.” Smart guy.”
How’s that for some early morning inspiration?

 

 

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Plan. Plan. Plan. Then Live One Day At A Time For Stellar Productivity

If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan – not the goal.

 

I’ve learnt, the hard way, that the absence of goals leads to disappointment and eventually failure. Without a self determined benchmark to aspire towards, your daily actions just become meaningless and your life, a confusing mess. I discovered this when I chose to “live one day at a time”. I was under a lot of stress and was extremely unsure of the future. My education and career path, my relationships were all up in the air. So my smart brain decided it was time to employ the well known plan of action. But in all honesty, looking back now, I was only using that as an escape, as a way out of the indecision I was facing. I couldn’t make up my mind on what I wanted, on what my dreams and goals really were. So instead of spending time to reevaluate, I chose to avoid the true problem and started focusing on the daily events of each day.

My aim every morning was merely to get through whatever happens, and then rinse & repeat. I did this for almost 2 years before I was forced out of this rut by a coming-of-age ceremony called convocation. I am so thankful for that rude awakening. Though I had been anticipating graduation for such a long time, when it came, it was a shock. Suddenly, I no longer had assignments or textbooks to keep me busy. My schedule was completely open and empty, and I began to resemble a bum. But it was blessing in disguise. At first I felt hopeless and lazy, but soon I realized I was actually relieved and at peace with myself more than I had been in the past few years. I had no real plans for the future because I didn’t think I was capable enough to achieve what I wanted. How foolish of me. I hadn’t applied for grad school, not for jobs. I spent the first little while regretting that, but soon enough I formed goals that were not only real but also meaningful. I started applying for jobs because I wanted to, not because I had to. I focused on those applications that interested me. Within a month after finishing my last semester, I had a job in a field that I wanted.

So I took a long, hard a look at the pros and cons of being a meticulous planner:

Pros

You are more organized. Planning gives you the ability to organize not just your time but also your space and social commitments so that when you’re doing a certain activity, you can focus on it and perhaps also work more effectively.

You put things in perspective. When you plan for the future, you are forced to look at the big picture and determine what your priorities are. Putting things into perspective this way ensures that you’re always working towards a goal that is important to you and not catering to someone else’s agenda.

Allows for preparation. Planning allows you to indulge in future-thinking. This can actually be a good thing because it often prompts you to get things ready in advance so you waste less time prepping when you’re ready to settle down to business.

You are clear about expectations. How many times have people you work with gotten away with the worst because you didn’t have the forethought to define your expectations in the beginning. This is especially true if you have people working under you or if you run a start-up. In order to stay on track , you need to be able to  define early on to other people what your expectations are. Planning in advance allows you to see the big picture and articulate clearly to toehr people what kind of work it is that you need from them. In turn, it makes things easier for the other perseon as well because they don’t have to keep guessing at what it is that you want.

 Makes you reach for loftier goals. We have a tendency to be easy on our selves. We may be rough with all the negative self talk, but when it comes down to actually doing something, we are as lazy as donkeys on a summer morning. Planning ahead gives you proper insight into what you’re capable of and if you’re like me, it also motivates you to reach just a little further to achieve something that you think is beyond your grasp. That striving, in my opinion, makes all the difference between mediocre work, and creating something exceptional.

You have peace of mind. You know that nagging feeling when you know you advent sat down in a while to do your homework? I don’t mean the kind of homework they give you in kinder garten. I mean the planning kind of homework that makes you list down all the concerns and priorities that are pressing down upon you at the moment, and turning it into something actionable and productive. When you plan, when you do your homework, there is less room for worrying about things you think you can’t do and more focus on taking practical steps to achieve whatever it is that you’re setting out to do. Not only does planning make you feel empowered, it also helps you maintain peace of mind and stay calm so you can work without getting distracted by your worries. Include link bat calm down article.

Cons

You don’t live spontaneously. Sometimes when you’re heavy on the planning, you tend to develop this loyalty to the original plan that can actually hamper your selse of freedom and productivity. You become a slave to the plan , afraid to veer form the planned course for fear that you will lose track of the bigger picture and far away fem your most important goals.

You restrict yourself from experiencing novelty. When you’re so committed to a plan that you tend to dismiss any novel, more attractive options that are presented in front of you, that’s  a problem. Sometimes, our plans blind us to the possibilities that are right under our noses.

You get bored. Sticking to a routine or a monotonous plan day- in and day-out, it is human nature to get bored and seek novelty. Why do you think so many people are opting out of office jobs and working for themselves these days? Even though you still have to plan your days and work, these is a sense of freedom and novelty in working by yourself, from random locations  and on your own terms that you would never be able to experience from the caged comfort of your 9-5 cubicle.

You get lost in the details. Sometimes you’re so caught up in following the nitty gritty details of your previously laid out plans tat you lose sight of the opportunities in front of you. I went on an epic trip to Jaipur this year. As I disembarked form the first ever rickshaw trip of my life, shaking from the adrenaline, I was so caught up in following my itinerary and the map on my ipnone to the last detail, that I didn’t even notice that it was raining. I got off in the downpour trying to negotiate with the rickshaw guy, only to realize that the hotel guard had been tapping me for five minutes trying to alert me to the rain waking up my sleepy baby, telling me that if I needed to look over my map and haggle further, I could slide over to the safety and dryness of the hotel lobby. When you’re planning, don’t miss the forest for the trees.

You become rigid. A corollary to the above point about getting lost in the details is that some of is are obstinate. I know I am. Once I decide upon a course of action, I have this urge to see it through at all costs. Sometimes, having the flexibility to change course or even edit defeat can mean the difference between being a struggling entrepreneur and a successful one that knows when to cut losses and try something more effective.

You become stuck in planning. When you’re stuck in the planning phase, you tend to pour over the plan and edit and re-edit –  but you don’t actually take any action or do anything. By the time you come to the point where you do something, you’ve expended so much energy and anticipation on the planning phase that you’re already bored before the project even begins.

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Goals are what drive and motivates humans. Every person has individual motivations, but I’ll leave that discussion for another time. That is why they say set high goals, dream big. If you have no goals. You won’t achieve anything. If you strive high, you will reach somewhere there depending on how much of an effort accompanies that dream.

Essentially this is the recipe for success, to be added in the order listed:

1. Dream big and set goals, know what you want (I mean it), make them extravagant and don’t allow your mind to wander or convince you otherwise.

2. Make a plan of action, know how you are planning on achieving them

3. Take it as it comes one day at a time, don’t allow setbacks or happenings to get you down and reevaluating your goals. Don’t get too phased by things & think your goals are no longer realistic and achievable because X happened. You don’t need to over think things because often when you are under stress you have odd ideas and make stupid decisions. So deal with anything calmly and logically, now is not the time to reevaluate or worry. That is the next step.

4. On a particularly calm day, when there is no tension or pressure on your shoulders and in your head, maybe once a week take a few hours and rethink and evaluate the week. What things happened that worried you, how did you react with them, have your ideas and values changed, are you goals still what they were, do you wish to alter them a little bit. Never scrap an idea/goal because you never know when it could work out. If you think things have changed and I no longer wish to achieve that because it’s unrealistic and foolish, let me tell you it’s NOT! Because you had thought long and hard about it, that is exactly what you wanted at one point in your life. So don’t undermine it’s value, and don’t give up on it just because you haven’t been able to achieve it yet or because you have already achieved it and now it doesn’t mean anything to you.

Being a planner doesn’t hamper you from a journey of self discovery and improvement, thinking critically about your plans and choices can help you start a personal revolution to stay eager, motivated and productive.

How do you handle the planning phase? Reply in the comments below to share your planning dilemmas and hacks with us. We love hearing form you!

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Invoking Calm Productivity in the Middle of a Crisis

“A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe.” – Wayne Dyer

Difficult boss. Screaming kids. Looming deadlines. Relationship problems.

Whatever your stressor, it will leave you feeling overwhelmed, powerless and unproductive. Turbulent emotions often mean that you pay less attention to working creatively, productively and efficiently. Take charge and empower yourself to deal with these feelings so they don’t get in the way of your goals. Learning to calm yourself effectively and immediately will give you clarity of thought and the conviction to take sound decisions.

In fact, the ability to resist emotional urges and outbursts actually improves your performance and productivity. One of the best ways to keep your mind stable and calm, especially when you’re looking to focus on getting back to productive work is to centre yourself by meditating.

 

The next time you’re in a blank state of unproductively, fixed in-place by stress, try this chanting meditation:

Select an appropriate phrase, prayer or affirmation that inspires and uplifts you. Examples of affirmations you can chant include:

I believe in myself and my decisions.

I accept the challenges of the world.

I can change my world.

I have unlimited potential

I am destined to succeed.

 

Sit comfortably on a mat or chair, or even lie down. Keep your shoulders and body relaxes. Close your eyes, take a few breaths to ground and centre yourself.

Repeat your chant slowly, pay close attention to the sounds you make as you chant. Keep a steady beat as you inhale or exhale as you chant.

Redirect stray thoughts and try to bring them gently back to the affirmation.

When you are ready, come out of the meditation by taking a few deep breaths. Observe your internal landscape. How do you feel?

 

Practical Strategies to Help You Calm Down

When you focus on staying calm, a funny thing happens. Your brain starts zooming out of the problem and putting it into context. Readjusting your perspective helps you gauge the problem rationally instead of blowing it out of proportion. When you come back to a situation with a clear perspective about what you want, you get back some of that control you lost when you were overwhelmed.

Disengage.

Step back. Get away from the aggravating situation or person. Focus on something else. Meditate. Breathe. The extra oxygen will do you a world of good. Experts say that in times of stress, the reduced oxygen to your brain drives your brain to freeze and trigger a primitive fight or flight response. Breathing deeply will replenish your brain supplies allowing you to look at the situation more rationally. And force yourself to smile – a fake smile will make you feel better just as a real one will.

Absorb yourself.

Do something else. It could be as simple as a shower. Do mundane things. Some people clean as a way to get their heads in order. Cook, if you like. Go do some yard work. Doodle – it’s a wonderful stress reliever. A change of pace, activity or scenery will instantly take your mind off whatever is bothering you.

Stop Multitasking.

A study at Stanford found that people who multitask are prone to distractions and decreased focus when working on a task. The “busy” feeling of multi tasking is just a facade. The constant distraction may make you feel like you’re getting more done, but in reality, you are far less productive than you hope to be.

Use music.

Blast some music. Sing along if you’re feeling bold – the louder the better. It is no secret that music helps people calm down. Sing loud, off key and do the chicken dance. There is no way you can be upset while you’re being that silly.

 Get moving.

Speaking of the chicken dance, a dance workout is an excellent way to improve your mood. So is running. Moving vigorously will clear your mind, pump some endorphins and have you feeling better in no time. Another great way to get moving is to do a walking meditation. Go to a local park or green spot. As you walk, breathe in the fresh air and drink in the sights and sounds of nature.

Engage a friend.

Have a “bitchin’ buddy”. A girlfriend of mine and I made a pact years ago. Instead of harassing our family members, significant other or random friends who may or may not want to listen to us raging, we would reach out to each other to vent. The mutually beneficial arrangement kept our other relationships sane and lending a sympathetic ear to each other drew us closer as friends.

Reflect.

Grab a piece of paper, set a timer to five and write whatever comes to your mind. Don’t censor or edit. Don’t try to make sense of what you are writing, just keep the pen moving on the paper. Julia Cameron, author of “The Artists Way” suggests writing three pages every morning to free up your creative energy and help you think without inhibitions. For those of you that prefer typing to writing, try 750 words.

 

Staying calm in the middle of a difficult situation can give you the insight that someone who is worked up may not have. It makes you productive, focussed and gives you clarity of thought to put your larger goals into perspective so that you’re winning the war, not just the battle.

Quite frankly, staying calm makes you very powerful.

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Mindful productivity- working in the present

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.
– Khalil Gibran[/quote]

In a discussion about productivity, people seldom expect to talk about mindfulness. Sometimes though, mindfulness is exactly what we need in order to stay productive, just like in other aspects of our lives.

In particular, being mindful of our internal dialogue, limiting beliefs and personal strengths can be helpful in identifying the style of work that is most productive for us.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life. ― John Lennon[/quote]

In her best-selling book Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain, author identifies that human beings have two primal responses to stimuli- fear and pleasure. Those of us that are governed by fear are preoccupied with protecting ourselves and seeking safety. Those of us who are governed by pleasure seek excitement and novelty and new situations. Obviously both temperaments in excess can be harmful. The fear brain can lead you down a path of worry, nervousness, suspicion and negativity. The pleasure brain can cause u to seek out excesses, hush-risk activities, and even substance abuse in order to feel that thrill of doing something unique.

The body, like the mind, also has two responses to any situation – yes and no. The next time someone asks you a question or proposes an idea, observe your body closely for its internal answer. When your internal answer is yes while thinking of an idea, a question or a situation, you are relaxed, and positive. Your breath is even, the tone of your voice is level.  When it is no, you scrunch up and tense. Your shoulders pull up to your neck, your breath quickens, your body tightens.

 

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Jot down two or three questions that have been on your mind lately.

Keep these questions in mind as you proceed through the exercise.

Sit down on the flow or in a yoga mat. Cross your legs put your palms on our thighs. Imagine a thick gnarled root coming out of your spine, grounding you into the earth below. Think of your head sending out a million shoots and leaves reaching high towards the sky.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Notice the tension in your shoulders, let it go. Notice the tension in your abdomen, let it go.

Notice what is going on in your body. Breathe like a baby – with abandon and trust.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Ask your first question.

Suspend your conscious thinking. Do not try to think logically or drive the answer into a certain direction. Restrain your rational and logical responses.

Listen instead to your body. Is your body tightening up, grabbing on to your roots? Are you holding tightness in a particulate part of your body as you ask this question? Just observe the reaction of your body as you hold his question in your mind.

When you’re satisfied with the answer, breathe, and let this question go.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Ask your second question

Repeat the thought process above for the first question.

Maybe you’re feeling free and peaceful as you think of this question. Is there a sighing, a release, a sense of relief as you hold this question in your mind. What is your body telling you?

When you’re ready, breathe and let go of this question.

Repeat the whole thing if you have a third question.

Breathe.

When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and reflect upon the wisdom your body has just shared with you.

With practice, you will learn to respect and recognize the powerful decision making of your body. The silence that this bodily awareness creates in your mind will be more valuable, restorative and productivity-inducing than any expensive vacation you will ever take.

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Often people think of meditation, inner peace and achieving a state of “flow” as some esoteric mumbo jumbo. But these things can be applied in your everyday working life too.

Here are some ways you can infuse awareness into your everyday work activities:

  • Being present in the moment. Wherever you are, truly engaging in conversations and making meaningful connections with those physically around you will create a special bond and magical memories more than conversations online ever will. Remember there will always be time to write on someone’s facebook wall, or send your crush a text message.
  • Focusing only on the current task. Eliminate any negative feelings that keep you from being productive. Attempting to achieve multiple goals all at the same time is not only an inefficient venture but also a counterproductive one. Remember that grasping new concepts and getting a project done properly is a big responsibility and requires all the attention you can give it.
  • Not worrying about the past or the future. This is similar to being in the present moment, but cultivating mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, nervousness and agitation which stems from negative experiences or feelings of the past, and anticipation of what is to come.

 
The ability to identify both fear and pleasure stressors in our lives, create a quiet space to rejuvenate and work free of your everyday tensions can create an avalanche of productivity in your everyday productivity as you learn to let go and ease into the activity at hand.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh[/quote]

 

Working in fear

Fear is a manifestation of misplaced hope. When you are constantly hoping for an external miracle to solve all your problems,  you’re also in constant conflict with reality. Leaving behind your fantasies about life to fully embrace the reality that is present here and now is the key to unlocking your happiness and creativity.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear. ― Cheri Huber[/quote]

Contrary though it may seem, giving up your rigid notions of the world, can set you free. There is no limiting beliefs or castles in the air interfering with your fluid perception of reality. And when these limiting beliefs are gone, you can really work with yourself and get into the elusive “flow”. Speaking about the state of “flow”, working in the “zone” isn’t really different from mindfulness when you think about it. When you work in the “zone” you are present, fully focused on what is in front of you. No past and no future limiting, obscuring or altering your present reality.

 

Working with pleasure

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more. ― Mother Teresa[/quote]

Joy is the pervasive happiness that stays constant regardless of the internal and external circumstances pressing upon us. Unlike the superficial notions of happiness, living in a state of joy simply means focusing solely on the present. It means living in the present moment with intensity, experiencing the world around us with a heightened sense of attention.

Working with joy doesn’t mean that you’re not aware of the negativity around you. Instead, working with joy means that you’re constantly living the present moment with a pervasive awareness of the grand perspective of things. Working with joy means stepping back from our fear and pleasure stressors and working in a “zone” that is neither altered by the situation nor the actions of totters around us.

 

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How taking a vacation can boost productivity

In our busy, everything to-go filled lives, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the impacts of such a lifestyle. First, let’s acknowledge that working too much is bad for you, your employer, your family and friends. Yet it is a lifestyle that so many of us fall victim to. We live under the illusion that everything we are doing is equally important and more often than not, get so drowned in all the important tasks that we completely give up. The busy routines we find ourselves in are not providing ideal lifestyles for our productivity and creativity to thrive.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking. -Earl Wilson[/quote]

Every once in a while, get out of your routine. Even though routine is thought to be the core of productivity, often what is missed is the need for a break. It is extremely important for us to take time to take a break. Both on a small scale and a larger scale. In this article, I will convince you on why you need to take more vacations. In the next article, I will discuss the benefits of taking small breaks throughout your day.

The best phase in my life which was coincidentally the most productive one as well was after my most memorable vacation in the summer of 2009. I travelled to India with my family after seven years and was completely rejeuvinated upon return. I’ve noticed after coming back from every vacation since then, there is a magic that follows after every period of rest and relaxation. Leave a comment to share your experience.

[message_box title=”Exercise:” color=”beige”]Think back to your last vacation. When was it? What is your best memory from it? On a scale from 0-10 think about how badly you needed that vacation. Now stop reminiscing and come back to the present. How much do you need a vacation now? Do you constantly feel irritated, anxious, tired, frustrated of it all? How close to burnout are you? [/message_box]

 

The Facts

An estimated average of 9.2 vacation days were left unused by Americans in 2012. More than 6 out of 10 Americans reported working through their vacation. While advocating for more vacations, Tony Schwartz, Energy Project CEO compared energy to time. “Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, it is renewable,”  he wrote in the New York Times. “Taking more time off is counterintuitive for most of us. The idea is also at odds with the prevailing work ethic in most companies, where downtime is typically viewed as time wasted.”

 

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it”  Jim Goodwin[/quote]

 

The Logic

Our bodies are very flexible and accommodating of what we put them through, for the most part. However, living with chronic stress which comes along with our busy lifestyles hinders the body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and its ability to avoid injury. When we’re stressed out and tired, surviving on only a few hours of sleep and a poor diet, our immune systems become weaker and we are more likely to become ill. Chronic stress also has impacts on our mental health. We become more irritable, depressed, and anxious. It is also linked to memory problems and poorer decisions.

Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. We need to take breaks in order to allow our bodies to recuperate from all the insults and catch up on rest. During the vacation, we gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines. As the vacation ends, there is a sense of empowerment; we emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]The purpose of a vacation is to have the time to rest. But many of us, even when we go on vacation, don’t know how to rest. We may even come back more tired than before we left. – Thich Nhat Hanh[/quote]

 

Benefits of taking a vacation

  1. Recharge and enjoy life
    • Avoid burnout
    • See the bigger picture
    • Gain more energy
    • Experience new things
    • Strengthen family ties
    • Allow for personal growth
  2. Increase productivity
    • Enhance job performances
    • Increase focus
    • Promote creativity
    • Improve mental skills
    • Gain new perspectives
  3. Stay healthy
    • Relieve stress
    • Improve mood
    • Catch up on sleep
    • Reduce risk of depression
    • Boost heart health
    • Promote well-being

[message_box title=”Try this…” color=”beige”]What is the one place you have wanted to visit since you were a child? Why haven’t you been there yet? What is the one activity you have been thinking of doing? Take a few minutes to plan your next vacation. If you don’t have the money or time right now, plan a stay-cation budget trip. Take just 2 days from your busy life where you will just let everything go and exist in the present- worry free.[/message_box]

Pack your bags, cut out the routine and take a vacation, and watch your productivity fluorish in the weeks that follow! Stay tuned for an article on planning a vacation.

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Make Your Best Day Ever A Reality

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]
The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. -Bob Moawad.
[/quote]

Ever sit down to work, and there is so much going on that you don’t know where to start? I used to struggle with beginning new projects because there were so many things flying around in my head that I couldn’t possibly handle them all at the same time.

Writing down all our to-do items and prioritizing the most important ones of the day is one way to clear all the mental clutter, but sometimes when you’re really swamped, long and complicated to-do lists can become a dead-weight around your neck.

In his book, “Your Best Just Just Got Better” Jason Womack talks about imagining your ideal day, then writing down word for word what that would look like in order to be productive, successful and get more out of life. Sceptical at first, I did some research of my own to see if this was true:

Is it possible to visualize an ideal day, where you work productively, and actually enjoy doing so, and then, to go out and make this ‘ideal’ day a reality? Brain studies seem to point to a resounding “yes” to that question.

If you’re a skeptic like me , you’re going to love this article in Psychology Today about Natan Sharansky, an inmate in solitary confinement who visualized the moves in a chess game with himself for years – who –  brace yourself –  actually beat a world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996.

 

The Power of Imagery

Most of us jump into our day without giving much thought to exactly what we are trying to accomplish. Its funny that many of us are addicted to making elaborate long-term plans, but when it comes to implementing them in the day-to-day, we are incredibly lazy.

Maybe it isn’t laziness, though, that keeps us from taking steps everyday and create conditions in which we can work productively to make our ‘ideal’ life a reality.

Maybe its our recurring thought patterns that keep us unproductive. Brain studies reveal that thinking about an action fires the same pathways in your brain as doing it. So if you’re in the habit of visualizing failure and struggle, that’s exactly what you will get served. The popular book, “Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain“,  covered a multitude of studies pointing to the fact that mental imagery influences motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. In a way, your brain is being primed for actual performance during visualization. This simple method of  creating a mental “reset” can enhance motivation, increase confidence, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and get yourself into the “zone”.

So, indeed, visualizing your best day can definitely help you turn it into a tangible reality!

 

Actionable Exercise: Your Best Day Ever!

Envision the best day of your life. Think in specific goals, outcomes or experiences. The day where you can choose to do anything, or be anyone. What will you wake up and do in the morning? What is the weather like, the smells, the sounds. Really get in there and imagine the detailed  elements of the situation as if you were really experiencing them right now.  Engage as many of your five senses as you can while you hold his picture of the ideal day. What are you feeling emotionally? What is your physical environment like?

Now, make a list of these “real” elements. How many of these can you incorporate into your day tomorrow?

My list looked like this:

I wake up, stretch gently, sneak out of the room while the baby is sleeping in the dark room shielded from the bright Indian sun by heavy canvas blinds. Pad to the bathroom where the extreme heat of the shower jolts me awake and refreshes me for the rest of the day. Grabbing my Macbook and iPad, I head down for some Chai Tea while I check on the Liftree website and spend some time attending to my social networks.

Spend some time with the toddler when she’s up, then get dressed and leave to work outside. Previously, I’ve taken my gadgets to work in a gym, a mall, my husband’s office, our home-theatre basement and once, even to a cocktail party where I received strange looks.

You may not be able to do all of these things. Maybe not even most of them. That’s okay. You are stepping onto  a new path towards this fabled ideal life. Like with everything else, it will take time and experience to reach where you want to be.

The most valuable insight I gained form this exercise was that your day can be anything you want to make of it. Obviously, we are all limited by our lifestyles and our means, but rather than use it as a crutch and an excuse, why not stretch out of your comfort zone and aim for what you really want? If you focus hard enough, you just might get it!

 

Reflect on this…

If you really want to be productive, you can be. You need to remind yourself everyday that productivity is a choice. Your desire to reach your dreams must be stronger than the desire to stay in your old ruts, falling back into mental patterns that don’t serve you.  Reflect on the following to get the most our of the “Best Day Ever” exercise:

What will your morning be like? Describe the sights, sounds, smells of your ideal morning. Do you smell coffee brewing, do you sip your green tea staring out at your backyard garden?

What things will need to be in place before you embark on your day’s journey so you can be really productive?

What will it take to keep you motivated and inspired? Music, an accountability buddy, bribing yourself with red-velvet cupcakes. Anything goes!

 

Next Steps

As I leave you with this first article of our productivity intensive, I want you to really start thinking about where you want to start heading in our work and personal life. I want you to start looking at where you are right now, and imagine where you want to be. If you feel comfortable, share  this with us in the comments below: What does your “Best Day Ever” look like?

Our favourite reply will get a shoutout in tomorrow’s post about quieting your mental chatter to make space for productive thoughts.

 

complimentsgracefully

Embrace compliments with grace

Over the years, I’ve noticed that I’m awful at taking compliments. After talking to several people about it, I realized that many people feel the same way about themselves! So I thought a post on the topic would be appropriate and useful.

Reasons you are not good at it

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  • You are shy
  • You are super conscious
  • Growing up, you didn’t get too many of them
  • You still don’t get them too often
  • You want to be humble
  • You are unsure of how to react
  • You’re caught off guard
  • You find it a little awkward

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Reactions in the moment: Do’s and Dont’s

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  • Don’t think about what the appropriate response would be or plan an elaborate thank you.
  • Do genuinely thank them. Let them know it’s very sweet and your appreciate their words. Say something thoughtful and simple. Say something thoughtful and simple.
  • Do give them a big smile.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your true reaction of surprise or happiness. There’s no need to be stoic.
  • Do remember practice makes perfect.
  • Do make the other person feel good about their decision to compliment you. Positive reinforcement will lead to getting more compliments even more often!
  • Do return the compliment if there is something you genuinely want to compliment them on.

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Things you can do to improve

As with everything in life, you can improve your compliment-taking skills with a little work in the right area.

1. Compliment yourself. Do so every morning and throughout the day. The more you do it the better. After all, practice makes perfect. This self loving will improve many different aspects of your life with near to no effort. Many star athletes use this technique before performing to empower themselves and boost their confidence. Look in the mirror and say it out loud, or use it as the anchor to mental meditation. You can use the same compliment each time or change it up every time. You are the boss. Find a mantra that makes you feel good. What needs to happen, is you need to get used to hearing good things about yourself. People often don’t hear good things from their spouse, siblings, children or colleagues. Various reasons for it, but none justified. Also, if you really want to do something nice. Start telling the people in your life good things about themselves. I’m not saying be fake, but it is important to share genuine thoughts you hold about them. There is nothing more special than knowing you’ve made someone’s day a little brighter.
2. Expect the unexpected. Another thing you can do is to pack away all your preconceived notions about people and intentions. Don’t try to be a detective on a mission to uncover why someone completed you. In most cases, people only give genuine compliments. So when you get one, don’t go about your day over analyzing the true motive of their words. It doesn’t matter. What matters is they were kind enough to appreciate you. So be flattered & smile! Even if you didn’t expect it from a certain person, learn to expect the unexpected.
3. Allow it to empower you and flatter your ego. Many of us have low a self esteem. Whether it is because you’ve bought into all the advertising about the ideal body build of a man or woman, or you’ve had a history of abuse and neglect, the fact remains that these ideas are simply not true. You are beautiful and exactly how you are supposed to be. Realize that most people only give genuine and honest compliments. So when they do, don’t overthink. Just run with it! Be flattered that they find you or something of yours worthy of appreciation. Allow it to make your day and empower you. All this while, remain humble and be gracious. And of course, thank the compliment bearer for making your day!

donttakepersonally

Give yourself the gift of detachment

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″] How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. -Wayne Dyer[/quote]

No one reaction, single handedly ambushes moods, mindsets and relationships than that of taking things too personally.

If someone offends or irritates you with their words or actions, forgive them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Odds are they may not even intended to cause harm.

Intention makes all the difference when trying to decide your reaction. Think about the saying, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”. So really, you are the only one have the power to make or break your day.

But keep in mind that a reaction doesn’t have to be instant. With everything becoming instant in today’s world, instant messaging, instant noodles, people have confused the idea of “reaction” with “instant reaction”. Take some time to evaluate the situation and analyze your potential options.

Perhaps they may behave that way with everyone, so there’s no need to take their bad behavior upon yourself. Or they didn’t really mean what they said.

When you take everything personally, all the negative energy and harm is done to yourself. And in many cases, for no reason at all.

It is important to be able to differentiate between someone trying to walk over your toes and someone just being ignorantly clueless. Stand up for yourself if you feel you must, but just take a moment to think about whether or not it is called for.

If you are like me, you will probably go about your day getting touchy or feeling crappy about at least 10 different things which will extend through the day as you continue to think about them. This is bad. The first step is to realize what you are doing. The second, is to relax and work towards being carefree and not taking everything so personally.

Remember, that nothing in this world is permanent. Undoubtedly, you’ve changed over the years. People change. So do situations, places and everything else you can think of. Anything that irritates, angers or upsets you today may not really matter in a few days, weeks, months. Keep this perspective in mind before you get yourself worked up.

Don’t be so serious about everything. Take life lightly. Learn to laugh at yourself and at other people’s naivety or childish behaviour. You don’t have to be responsible for the wellbeing of anyone other than yourself.

Try to incorporate some of the positive changes in your attitude and actions mentioned in this article. You will find that life is much more enjoyable that way. Read more about channeling your anger in a past post.

Let us know how it goes! Share any strategies or personal experiences you have with taking things and coping with taking them too personally.