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The Power of Smiling

If you are practicing awareness or mindfulness as part of your personal development training, you’ll notice that when you awaken with the perspective of mindfulness, and are no longer caught in your thinking, you are free to choose how you respond to whatever you are experiencing. Why not choose to smile?

If we’re angry, we can notice that, and smile to our anger.   If we’re sad, we can smile to our sadness. When we see a person, we can smile to that person.
There are so many positive effects that result from smiling, including the feeling of joy, relaxation, improved functioning of the nervous system, being more attractive to others, and even living a longer, healthier life!
Below is a wonderful, 7-minute TED talk on many of the incredible benefits of simply smiling.
In addition to all of the wonderful benefits for ourselves that result from smiling, I truly believe that smiling is one of the most important things we can do to create positive change in the world around us.
I think it’s very easy to feel as though what we do in our daily life is having little or no impact on the world around us. But this not so! Each moment of our life has an incredible impact on the world around us.
We are almost all familiar with the “Butterfly Effect”. Although this is an analogy, it is certainly not fiction. Little, local events do lead to large, global events.
If a butterfly flapping her wings can ultimately lead to a change in the global weather pattern known as El Niño, imagine what your smile can do! Without any doubt, your smile could save the world!

Putting this into practice is so simple. Whenever you wake up with the perspective of mindfulness, smile a little (or a lot)! You are free from your thoughts and feelings, so why not choose to smile? You’ll benefit significantly, the people around you will benefit, and, who knows, you just might save the world while you’re at it!

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Improving Effectiveness by Transforming Emotions

While running one morning with my friend Natalie, we came up to a cross street that enters a major road off to our right.  As we approached, we noticed an SUV coming towards the stop sign.  I was a little ahead of Natalie and, aware that many people don’t actually stop at stop signs, I slowed my pace to see if the SUV was going to stop.  Once I noticed that she was going to stop, I proceeded to run through the cross walk.  I noticed that there was a woman driving and a man in the passenger seat.
The woman who was driving the car looked a little perturbed as she came to a stop.  As we cleared the cross walk, I commented laughingly to Natalie, “Wow, she seemed a little bothered by doing what she was supposed to do anyhow.  Pretty funny hey?”  Some moments later, Natalie shared something very wise that I think is definitely worth sharing here.
Natalie said, “When I saw her reaction, I tried to imagine what might be going on for her and the person in the car.  Maybe she wasn’t upset with us, but upset with her companion, or her lack of attentiveness to driving, or just having a bad morning in general.”
Many people would find it very easy to respond with anger or unkindness to someone who does something that we find irrational or offensive.  But Natalie immediately related to the woman with empathy.  She is such a wise soul.
My experience has been that relating to situations in this way is incredibly empowering.  When we respond to a frustrating situation with empathy, we are able to feel kindness and compassion, which give rise to numerous positive effects in the body.   Conversely, when we respond with anger or unkindness, our energy is drained, we add stress to our day, we damage our bodies with stress-related hormones, and we might even do something that we regret later.
The practice of mindfulness helps us to be able to take advantage of all the wonderful benefits of empathy.  The more effort we put into being aware of and kindly accepting our natural reactions, the easier it is to choose to not follow our habitual ways of reacting, and to instead make the conscious choice to do what is much more beneficial for us.
When we catch ourselves reacting to a situation with frustration, anger, or unkindness, the practice below may help.  I used to be very diligent with this practice and found it so empowering.  Thanks to Natalie’s wonderful reminder, I’ll begin employing this with more diligence again.
1)  Simply recognize and accept the fact that we are reacting according to our habits.

2)  Aware of the thoughts and feelings in the body, choose to respond in a more beneficial way by reciting the following verse.  “Breathing in, I’m aware of my reaction.  Breathing out, I will respond in a way that is helpful and kind.”

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

How A Tomato Boosts Productivity

Simple Tools For Increasing Productivity, Including A Skillful Use of A Tomato

Over a year ago, I attended a wonderful workshop at the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) conducted by Jim Lilkendey of Apogee Coaching.  The topic was being more productive.

Jim drew from his experience as a business coach and from two books, The Power of Full Engagement and Getting Things Done, which are both bestsellers.  Interestingly, both books, and Jim’s discussion, seemed to point much less at simple organizational skills, which one might expect from a course on being more productive, and more towards the deeper, root causes of either being productive or not.
At root of it all is something that may sound obvious, but I think is rarely considered when considering ways to increase productivity – the alignment between what we’re doing and our deepest aspirations.  In the workshop it was suggested that if we’re not doing something that we’re passionate about, our productivity will likely suffer a great deal.
The secondary focus, as I saw it, was on energy management.  Jim mentioned the truth that we actually have no control over time.  Thus, “time management” is a misnomer.  What we can manage, he said, is our energy.
In addition to numerous practical exercises from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, Jim mentioned the Pomodoro Technique.  This program (named after a tomato timer used while cooking) is based on the idea that we humans can only focus our attention for so long before we become easily distracted and increasingly less productive.  Thus, with the Pomodoro Technique, we are encouraged to work in a very focused way for 25 minutes, and then take a 5-minute break.
The effects are very interesting.  When we know that we only have to remain focused for 25 minutes before we have break, it is much easier to stay true to the task at hand.  Further, when we return from the break, we often have fresh insights into projects that we wouldn’t have had if we had continued to sit and struggle through it for hours.
I had been employing the idea of taking mindful breaks for some time.  However, I would typically just practice some mindful breathing while seated at my desk.   After Jim’s Workshop, I changed it up to more closely follow the Pomodoro Technique, and have noticed numerous benefits. I’m getting more done, I have more energy, and I feel significantly more relaxed throughout the day because I find it easier to remain focused for 25 minutes than for hours at a time.
Here’s My System
I use a timer that I set for 25 minutes, and begin working mindfully on my current task or tasks on my “to do” list, aware of my body and state of mind.  I do not allow my attention to stray to incoming phone calls or Facebook or surfing the web.   When the time expires, a nice harp on my phone lets me know that it’s time for a break.
To begin my 5-minute break, I stand up and take one deep breath in and out, practicing the same power breathing technique that we teach to youth in the Kids Kicking Cancer (KKC) program. 
After taking my Breath Brake, I go for a brief walk outside, in mindfulness.  I let go of any thinking and simply open my awareness to walking, what comes through my senses, and the state of the body and mind.  This effort to be mindful and let go of thinking serves as a great recovery period alone.  Seeing the blue sky or some trees further ads to the rest from the computer.  
Also, I think this change of postures is essential.  By walking, I’m increasing blood flow to the head, which energizes me mentally for when it’s time to sit back down to work.

I hope you find this as helpful as I have!

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Better SEO – Self-Effectiveness Optimization

A Different Type of SEO – Self-Effectiveness Optimization:  

How mindfulness training improves our personal effectiveness.

Optimization seems to be one of the most common buzzwords “buzzing” around these days.  I most often hear the word in the context of SEO, which is search engine optimization.
I wonder how many of us have a solid plan for optimizing our most important engines – our minds.  Let’s explore this most important aspect of another type of SEO – “self-effectiveness optimization.”

I feel pretty confident that everyone reading this has a solid understanding of how to optimize ourselves physically.  There is an abundance of information (perhaps too much) on how to eat well, sleep right, and exercise to ensure that we can optimize ourselves, physically.
But what do we do to optimize the most important tool we have – the mind?
Traditional schools of thought posit that we should get as much education as possible.  However, there is a lot of evidence that shows an inverse correlation between higher levels of education and personal effectiveness.  For instance, according the research of the Perth Leadership Institute, there is actually an inverse correlation between higher levels of education and profitable behaviors.  And, thanks to the well-known research of Daniel Goleman and others, we now know that emotional intelligence is twice as important as IQ for high levels of personal and professional performance.
Although knowledge is definitely helpful, it seems that even more important is how well-trained our minds are.  This is why so many top companies like Google, Intel, Raytheon, and General Mills are training their people in the practice of mindfulness.  They know that mindfulness is an incredibly powerful tool for training the mind to be most effective.  This is why I am also an advocate for incorporating mindfulness training into our personal development efforts.
Mindfulness practice can really be boiled down to two main elements: attention training and wisdom development.
The heart of the practice is training ourselves to become less distracted by thinking.  We train our attention to be aware of our own thoughts and emotions (self-awareness), as well as the rest of the present-moment reality.  This helps us remain more attentive to tasks we’re working on and, over time, actually makes the mind more efficient by reducing the amount of useless thinking that serves no purpose other than to sap our mental energy. (Although I’m sure that this doesn’t apply to anyone reading this.  We never get caught up in conversations in our heads that are completely useless right?)
As we develop our ability to remain free from distracting thinking, awareness becomes much more powerful, allowing us to see subtle aspects of our world that we don’t normally pay much attention to – like how everything is constantly changing.  We all know this intellectually, but most of us haven’t had deep personal insight into the universal truth of impermanence.  By developing this wisdom, we find that we are much more effective in life because we deal with change more effectively, things don’t bother us so much, and we become much less attached to our own ego, which makes us much more effective when dealing with other people.
The heightened self-awareness and insight into impermanence that result from mindfulness practice make it a very powerful tool for developing the emotional intelligence skills that, as mentioned above, are more important than IQ for improving our effectiveness.
If you’re already utilizing mindfulness as part of your SEO (self effectiveness optimization) plan, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
If you’re new to mindfulness, please feel free to leave questions in the comment section.

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.