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What were your biggest time wasters? (DW#529)

Do you know how much time you spend on social media every day? Or on YouTube? How about Netflix?

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of us have a (sometimes secret) guilty pleasure that we spend more time on than we intend.

So let me start by confessing something. I can be a workaholic. When I am researching, writing or preparing a presentation, I tend to lose track of time and work bleeds into family or leisure time. Recently, however, I have discovered the joys (!) of binge watching Netflix and find it really difficult to stop after watching just one episode of an engaging show. What I am noticing is that while watching a single episode of something can be rejuvenating, relaxing and a good way to wind down the day, watching three episodes in a row is much less so. After an evening of such binge watching, I end up feeling guilty and empty (and much too wired to sleep), and wishing that I had used my time in a much more productive fashion.

What were your biggest time wasters in...

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Who do you need to thank? (DW#528)

Continuing with our series on reflecting on the past year, today let us bring to mind WHO we were grateful for this past year. 

Before we begin, a quick question: have you heard of the "gratitude gap"? Let me explain what it is. 

The John Templeton Foundation did an extensive survey on gratitude in America. They found that when asked what they were grateful for, a staggering majority of people put family (90%) and friends (87%) at the top of their lists. 

But here is the sad part: less than half of women (and even less of men) expressed this sense of gratitude or appreciation to their family or friends. So even though many people are feeling gratitude in their hearts for people, they appear to be reticent to express this gratitude. 

In fact, the closer the relationship, the less likely people are to show their appreciation for their loved ones. So family and spouses appear to get the least verbal appreciation from us even...

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What are you grateful for? (DW#527)

As we have previously discussed, a gratitude practice is key to mental and emotional wellbeing. When we are intentional about noticing things that are right and expressing gratitude for them, we actually train our brains to become more positive and optimistic. 

There are however, more and less effective ways to express gratitude. 

1)   If we are putting gratitude on a "to do list" for ourselves, it can lead to it becoming a burden rather than a blessing, say researchers. The idea is to begin noticing things that we are grateful for as a first step. When a daily practice of gratitude leads to us noticing more things to be grateful for, it can work really well

2)   Go for depth rather than breath. When our gratitude lists are brief and general, they may do little to lift us up. A University of Southern California study found that writing one sentence about five things we’re grateful for is less beneficial than writing five sentences...

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Recap: Taking action can change your feelings (DW#480)

As a part of our series on emotional intelligence, we have been discussing how we can learn to accept feelings but that we don’t have to wait for our feelings to change before we can take action on our values.

Feelings, as we have been discovering, can often change by changing our behaviour.

Here is a recap of the actions we can take to impact our feelings:

Try power poses to increase your confidence [DW#473]

Smile to increase feelings of happiness [DW#474]
Follow what actors/lovers do on the screen to kindle feelings of love [DW#475]
Boost your own happiness by doing random acts of kindness for your spouse [DW#476]
Act in loving way to feel the feeling of love [DW#477]
Turn fear into courage by taking action in the face of fear [DW#478]
 
Prepare and practice to become confident in any area of your life [DW#479]
 
Which ones did you try? Remember our lives will be positively impacted only by acting upon what we know!

Which ones are the most challenging?

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The two secrets to confidence (DW#479)

Think of when you first started to drive, or learn a language or cook or do financial accounting . . .

Remember how nervous you were? How unprepared you felt? 

So how did you become better in these areas of your life?

You prepared yourself by learning, studying, passing a test . . .

And then you practiced.

A lot.

If you had waited till you had the confidence to do any of these things you would not have taken the car out of the garage, cooked your first meal or spoken a word of another language.

The confidence came from two things: preparing and practicing.

How about applying the same formula to areas of your life where you currently lack confidence?

You already know how, right?

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Try power poses to increase your confidence (DW#473)

Have you noticed how our posture reflects our feelings?

When we are sad, we tend to look down and frown, when anxious we might tap our feet, fidget or shift our eyes and when we are happy we often smile.

But how we position our bodies doesn’t just reflect how we feel, it can also change how we feel.

For example, if we act confident even when we are not feeling confident, we may increase our feelings of confidence.

According to recent research: "Posture has a bigger impact on body and mind than anyone believed. Striking a powerful, expansive pose actually changes a person’s hormones and behavior, and even have an impact on how you are perceived in the working world," saysWall Street Journal columnist Sue Shellenbarger.

And we don’t have to change your posture or pose for long. A few minutes seems to be all you need to have an impact on our feelings.

In her research with Dana Carney at UC-Berkeley, Amy J.C. Cuddy has focused on...

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Separating feeling and acting (DW#469)

emotions self development Oct 11, 2018

Let's assume that we all agree that exercise is a good thing. 

Are you one of those lucky people who love to exercise and look forward to going to the gym? 

Or are you amongst those who don’t necessarily feel like it but decide to do it anyway because you recognize that it is good for you?

Or do you wait until you feel like exercising and then do it? (How long have you been waiting by the way?)

Even though we don’t always use it, human beings have the ability to not act on every feeling and to act even when we don’t feel like it. 

In other words, 

1)    We can do what needs to be done even if we don’t feel like it (exercise, go to work, cook dinner etc.)

 

2)    We can stop ourselves from doing things which will harm us, either now or in the future even if we really reallywant to do it (eat too much, have junk food, have a fight with the neighbor, tell our boss off . . .)


So we have...

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Make it your own (DW#468)

One of the most inspiring and heart warming moments for me is when a reader takes a suggestion and makes it their own. 

A young lady wrote and shared that when she read about the six second pause, she realised that it was the perfect amount of time to remember God and His most beloved ones. 

She said that she will be using the six second pause to say this:
Allah, Mohammed, Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain (May the peace and Blessings of God be on all of them). 

It reminded me that when I am feeling angry, unforgiving and my heart is constricted, I remember the most beautiful names of God to ground myself: 

Ya Rahman, Ya Raheem, Ya Karim, Ya Salaam
O All Compassionate, O All Merciful, O Most Generous and Noble, O the Source of Peace

If we adapt the pause to something that is meaningful for us, we are MUCH more likely to use it. 

So go ahead and develop a mantra of your own. What helps you to calm down and get back on track? Practice using it frequently so that it...

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Quit “shoulding” your emotions (DW#459)

emotions self development Sep 27, 2018

Once you start becoming aware of your emotions, it is very tempting to start labeling them as good or bad – positive or negative. You may be tempted to believe that sadness and anger for example are bad. And happiness or excitement are good. You then may begin to tell yourself "I should not feel anger or resentment". "I should feel happy at my success". 

We will later cover why it is not useful to treat emotions as good or bad. For now, please stay with the practice of noticing and naming the emotion itself without the judgement of good or bad. 

While becoming aware of emotions is helpful towards managing them effectively, labeling them as good or bad often has the effect of trying to get rid of the emotion without really understanding what it is trying to teach us. 

Suspending our judgement about particular emotions also allows them to run their course and dissipate. Labeling, judging and "shoulding" the emotion on the other hand, tends to feed the emotion and...

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Tell me more. (DW#434)

Today’s phrase, "tell me more", is one of those phrases that is multi-purpose and an overall great communication tool.

Tell me more can be used when you want to encourage the other person to talk more and share what is going on for them, especially if they are slow to open up. 

Tell me more can be used as a way to buy time for yourself and calm down when you have just heard something which is triggering you. Think of it as a way to give your brain a chance to respond rather than react. It is especially useful when you know that your first reaction is likely to shut down the other person rather than continue communication (such as when you "freak out" at something your children are telling you).

Tell me more can be used when you are really interested in something and genuinely are curious to learn more about what the other person is saying. It is a great way to learn from others and build friendship at the same time as people blossom at the chance to talk about...

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