I’m starting a new series from now through the end of the year. I’ll be in and out for the next several days, and so want to train my thoughts on gratitude.
Gratitude is a feeling that one gets when being thankful and the word originates from the word grace! I feel thankful when someone is gracious to me and this brings about a feeling of gratitude.
I’m especially thankful today for my ability to think and be creative. This thought helps me to be grateful, and I share this with you. For what are you grateful today?
Another quick stress relieving tip that I’m using today. Life can seem overwhelming at times and negative things can crowd out more positive events in your life. Just for this moment I want you to focus on one good thing in your life. Truly focus on this one good thing and allow gratitude to build in your heart and mind.
You may repeat this exercise several times today and examine your stress level each time.
I find that I get a boost of energy each time I use this focusing technique. I am interested in your responses!
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. –William James
This is a quick one: Live in the present moment. Take time to focus on what is happening right now. Most stress comes from thinking about hurtful events from the past or anticipating trouble in the future, while the present may be positive. I’ve found that focusing on the present and attempting to enjoy the present moment helps to remove me from stressful thoughts temporarily.
As stress begins to build, repeat being present in the moment. Before long living mindfully in the present can become a habit and makes life more enjoyable and less stressful.
I’m taking some time this month to address stress and how to avoid or overcome the stress that occurs during the holidays. For most people the events have already begun and the planning for others are well underway. Parties and celebrations are wonderful and are an important part of life. Unfortunately we have gone overboard to the point of exhaustion. What is a modern person to do?
One issue to be overcome is fear. If I don’t participate in all of the activity what will people think? Will they think that I am antisocial or mad at someone? Is it alright to just be tired and need to rest?
Being overly concerned with what others think is a setup for stress, simply because we have no control over others. The best I can do is influence others, but they still retain the ability to choose for themselves. People will think what they choose to think. We can operate under the same skill.
How to relieve stress for today: Choose to do what you want to do. Trust that the people who love you will support your decisions, and the people who do not support your decisions do not really love you.
Experiment with choosing to make your wishes a priority in a few ways at first, and see what happens. I think you will see that most of the fear has been in your mind, and this can be overcome by being proactive.
I’ll share more in tomorrow’s post.
Please leave your comments to this post.
December is beginning and the “hurry syndrome” has begun. Are you caught in the shopping frenzy? Black Friday, Cyber Monday, all of these attempts to capture your imagination and wallet are buzzing about like bees. I can feel the stress build.
Wait a minute! It doesn’t have to be this way. We were designed to live at peace in our world. When did it go so wrong? Help comes by making a decision to live life differently.
Just for today choose to live in the present moment. Stop whatever you are doing. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Relax. See if your stress level doesn’t go down at least for a bit.
I’ll be writing this month on holiday stress and the way to escape from the madness. Any questions or comments you may have are welcome.
Can you remember making mistakes as a child? What happened to you when you did “something wrong?” Did you learn your lesson?
I’m assuming that most of our experiences were similar. We mess up and someone corrects us, then asks the fatal question “Did you learn your lesson?”
Questions are powerful teaching tools, and when someone asked you this question, I assume that their intention was to help you learn something. Trying to help us learn is important, but as often is the case, there is a lot of “what” and not enough “how” in the questions.
Let’s look at two basic problems with the “did you learn your lesson?” question:
- Typically the question was asked only after a mistake was made inferring that there is only something to learn when we make mistakes.
- The question may force a yes or no answer, and not ask for a description of the lesson learned.
Now, to avoid falling into the same trap as our parents: Are you learning a lesson from this discussion? Here are some ideas to assist in life-long learning.
Be alert for learning moments all the time, not just after a mistake. Did something go well today? Look for the learning moment – what do we need to do in order to achieve this outcome again?
Make “the question” more open and powerful. Suggestions could include:
- Describe the lesson that you learned?
- What worked?
- Was the outcome what you preferred?
- How will you act the next time you are in a similar situation?
The questions aren’t just for me. They may help others. Life-long learners are constantly evaluating themselves for learning moments. I particularly enjoy discovering a repeatable skill that gives me a desired outcome. I’ve found that these learning moments are often teachable to others. I reinforce my learning by teaching, and you may too.
Life brings learning experiences every moment, both large and small. Yet there is no guarantee we will learn from them. Life-long learning comes only with reflection, and asking ourselves the right questions.
To become a life-long learner and person you were born to be, ask learning questions more often and more intentionally.
So, for today: What have you learned from this discussion? Can you describe the process of learning? Please leave a comment and we will learn together.
There are several key elements of active listening. All of these help ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other knows you are hearing what they say. Two of these I’ve already shared this week:
Pay attention: Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication 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.
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.
Here are three others to complete our series on active listening.
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.
Postpone 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.
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.
It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener.
Be deliberate with your listening and remind yourself frequently that your goal is to hear what the other person is saying. Set aside all other thoughts and behaviors and concentrate on the message. Ask questions, reflect, and paraphrase to ensure you understand the message.
Please leave comments on how active listening works in your life and relationships.
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, try to understand the complete message being sent.
Skill #1: You must pay attention to the other person.
You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by whatever 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 get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying. All of these 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 them – this will reinforce their message and help you stay focused.
To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you are listening to what he or she is saying. As an example, ask yourself if you’ve ever been part of a conversation when you wondered if the other person was listening to what you were saying. You may wonder if your message is getting across, or if it’s even worthwhile continuing to speak. Speaking to someone who appears disinterested can feel like talking to a wall and it’s something you want to avoid in listening to others. In simpler terms: Be polite!
Acknowledgement can be something as simple as a nod of the head or a saying “uh huh.” You aren’t necessarily agreeing with the person, you are simply indicating that you are listening. I have learned to use the term “OK” to indicate that I hear the person. 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 encourage him or her to continue speaking, so that you can get the information you need. While nodding and saying “uh huh” indicates that you’re interested, an occasional question or comment to recap what has been said communicates that you are understanding the message as well.
I’ll have more on active listening in tomorrow’s post.
Please leave your comments to this series.