The Science of Happiness
Went to a great Georgetown Alumni Coaching Conference this week and one of the wonderful breakout sessions that all dealt with resilience, showed us this video by Soul Pancake. This gratitude practice is a simple, yet powerful way to increase your happiness by up to 22% and make a memorable difference to someone in your life. Watch and see.... and then tell me what you did!
Simon Beck is a snow artist. He creates works of art and beauty that can be erased in a matter of seconds with the next snow or windstorm. He spends hours creating these works of art. He doesn't use any technology. It is only him, the snow, his footprints and his amazing vision.
I found out about Simon through my sister-in-law's posting on Facebook. While part of my new year's commitment is to be less intimate with my smartphone, tablet, computer........ you get the picture....., there are some uses that serve my spirit. I knew when I read about Simon, that I would write about him and his work. In doing so, I'm imagining that part of his purpose has been fulfilled: to inspire others to what is possible through dedication, inspiration, purpose, and vision.
To look at Simon's trails above, you start to wonder what he sees that we don't. What is it that drives his painstaking footsteps in the snow? One misstep, one off- balance footprint could destroy hours of work. Virgin snow is just that: once tampered with, the system is changed; the design is altered. There's no going back. Yet as I look at Simon taking each step with purpose and passion, I know he's not thinking of what may ruin his design. His only thought is on creation. He is focused on his goal and he is pursuing it with relentless abandon. His companions are only his snowshoes, ski poles, goggles, and stamina. He is driven by his passion to create beauty, and to share that beauty through photography.
As a coach, we tend to seek metaphors in our work with clients and in our lives. So, what I choose to see is someone honoring his passion and
purpose: Someone whose inspiring goal transcends the "work" it takes to fulfill it. I see someone who moves into his purpose and passion, with full presence, realizing that it can all change in a heartbeat.
My prayer and commitment for 2014 is that my clients' experience of our work together can be just that: fully present, focused, with vision, passion and purpose. As leaders, that we can put one foot in front of the other, moving constantly closer to our goal: that we have the energy and commitment to withstand the inevitable challenges, and continue onward.
People often ask me about my career path and my purpose. What I always say is that my purpose began with positively impacting a hospitalized patient and that purpose has not changed. I don't practice as a "nurse," as we may rigidly define that role; and I do hope to inspire physician, nursing and healthcare leaders to be the best they can be in service to patients and families. Each person reading this blog will be somehow impacted by our healthcare system. Lives will be saved or lost. The quality of our lives will be improved, maintained or disintegrated by the care we receive. That care has to provide quality, respect, hope and peace.
Perhaps we in healthcare should start calling ourselves "Health Artists!"
My heartfelt thanks to Simon for his inspiration, and wishes to all for a "health-filled" 2014!
For a Christmas 2013 video of Simon, click here.
Changing of Seasons and Noticing
Changing of Seasons and Noticing.. Today is Halloween and the weather is cloudy and warm for this time of year (in the 60’s). Yet mother nature isn’t disappointing us and the belated beauty of the autumn foliage is spectacular. My husband made a point of alerting me to the brilliant reds and oranges on our backyard maple tree, particularly as contrasted with the golden yellow of the trees behind it. And as we watch the leaves fall to the ground, and, perhaps, complain too much about our need for raking, I am reminded of the seasons of life and the theme of noticing.
Autumn happens to be my favorite season as I welcome the lower humidity (as experienced on the East Coast), cooler and crisp days, weather that beckons you to play outside and ride bikes or go for hikes. And every time I mention my favorite season of autumn to others, they mention the regret of shorter days and the coming of winter. The coach in me forever searches for another meaning… another perspective and the metaphor hiding beneath the surface.
In our American culture, is it that we resist death, as in the falling of leaves, because of perceived darkness to come? How might we use the sharpness of light and color, and noticing that is inspired within us just before the falling? How often is it that when we recognize the impermanence of something or someone, we seem to notice what’s special about them and cherish them more? As you know, I am taking care of my elderly mom and I marvel at how I can still find those sparks of beauty and strength, amidst the decline of her memory and her independence.
The leaves that are dying stand out against the perpetual green of the evergreens, and those trees become background to the display of color and life that seems to come to the deciduous trees. If only we could recognize that beauty in our aging seniors and celebrate them as we celebrate autumn splendor? If only we could use our powers to pause and notice in seasons other than autumn? Nature has so much to teach us and each season brings a unique beauty and message. Winter teaches us to slow down; conserve energy; stay warm, and turn inward. We are preparing for the burst of energy and outward focus of spring, with new hopes, dreams, growth, and splendor. Using that burst of energy, we go full throttle into the longer days of summer, filled with activity, adventure, lightness, sunshine, laughter, and play. Just imagine if we had to keep that up all year long? What difference would that make to our ability to pause and notice? Now there’s something to ponder! Are we creating a perpetual summer with our constant use of electronic devices? (I’ll save that for another passage!).
I’ve been finding it more difficult to wake up in the mornings and I am reminded of nature’s slowing down and hibernation. I am choosing to continue to celebrate the beauty of autumn, yet I am celebrating it for a whole new reason. I am celebrating my ability to notice. After seeing a photograph that I took during one of our hikes, a friend of mine commented: “Joy, you see things that others don’t see: what an eye you have!” God has certainly blessed me with that ability and I celebrate it not only with photography, but more-so with nature and people. Here’s to noticing and to the seasons of life!
We Get It!
To all my friends who have children.. to all the moms and dads... We get it!
My husband and I were not blessed, and ultimately chose to not have children. Whenever people would ask us if we had kids, which happens very often when you first meet someone, we would respond: "We have cats!" It almost felt like we had to say something to make us feel "OK" about our response. During the years when I struggled with infertility, I would often ask God: "why?" "What is the reason we're going through this?" Like there had to be some rational reason for our life circumstance... life is fair, right?... NOT!
As you may know from reading other blogs, we became the primary caretaker for my mom, who suffers from dementia. Eighteen months later, my mother-in-law has also come to live at the same continuing care community as my mom. We have our family wagon (see prior post), and we are now experiencing what we imagine you parents have experienced for most of your lives. We now get it!
Criticism by Nissim Amon
Thanks to Wild Divine for sharing this. It saddens me to see criticism so prevalent in our workplaces. It is not coincidental that a majority of workplace cultures consist of complaining, negativity, and low energy. Here's to celebrating the ordinary! Thanks, Nissim!
by Nissim Amon
A coral reef is a place full of life and vibrant colour, where hundreds of different species of fish and plants live free of the need to criticize each other. Although an immense variety of life exists there, every plant knows its place and each and every fish knows exactly where it belongs. Once in a while a human diver appears with a mask and air-tanks, and like everybody else down there, he is not critical either. The diver enjoys being a visitor to the underwater world, observing the richness and beauty of Nature without judgment.
Things change the moment the diver steps out of the water and back onto dry land. Dry land accommodates an infinite variety of humans, humans however seem to have innumerable opinions about each other, so the game of criticizing one another, is one of their most favourite pastimes.
On the human reef, we sit on small balconies, observe our neighbours and complain: the octopus is a mess, the crab is an idiot, the jellyfish is spineless, the silver fish is obsessed with glamour, the eel is too slippery, and all the shallow water fish are limited and without depth. This takes place, in every house, in every city, all over the world.
Criticism is so widely spread that some consider it the ultimate social skill and are constantly polishing their expertise. They are unaware that the stronger the stream of criticism flows, the further happiness drifts away....
Two thousand five hundred years ago, the Buddha gave a small discourse on criticism. He said that while it is easy to observe and point out other people's faults, it is extremely difficult to see one's own. He also said that most people hide their faults, like a dishonest gambler hides unlucky cards. The Bedouins of the desert have a similar saying – A camel cannot see his own hump!
So how can we see our own humps? To solve this riddle we must realize that we are not able to criticize our own humps, because the hump is the very place where criticism comes from.
When we discover "what is wrong" with other people, we criticize them, but this criticism is entirely of our own fabrication, and it has nothing much to do with the people themselves. Our shortcomings, flaws and negativity are a reflection or projection of ourselves on others. Our hump is what criticizes other people for having a bigger hump.
This inner voice, residing in our transparent hump, guarantees its survival thanks to the satisfying feeling we get from patronizing others. It specializes in finding their faults and feeds off the elation the feeling of superiority gives us.
If we lack a sense of self-worth, criticism becomes our way of avoiding self-examination. Becoming aware of this is an important step in the right direction.
The next step is to have the courage and fortitude to remove the hump and consciously rid our lives of obsessive criticism. Not only must one decide to do this, which is a huge step in itself, it is imperative to constantly remind ourselves not to falter on this decision. Try writing yourself little notes and stick them on all the mirrors in your house, make it a conscious effort - because it is so very easy to go back to criticizing everything again.
Your hump has a knack of playing tricks on you by telling you that you have a good sense of self-criticism, don’t be deceived by this. It is a very common deception. All forms of criticism come from the same hump....
When the positive spotlight is turned within it has nothing whatsoever to do with condemnation, disapproval or judgement. When YOU look inside of yourself, it is called wakefulness, mindfulness and awareness, not criticism.
The realization that you are neither superior nor inferior to anyone is a very high spiritual achievement. When this understanding is no longer purely intellectual but goes to the deepest level of your heart, it will give you the freedom that you seek, and also allow you the freedom of letting everyone else, be exactly who they are and whatever they choose to be.
The person who doesn't feel he is superior behaves without pretension and one who knows that he is not inferior feels no fear.
"One hundred percent ordinary,
From moment to moment,
The truth we seek is reality itself."
We Bought a Family Wagon!
At the ripe young age of 54, I just bought a family wagon! Normally, when I think of family wagons, I think of car seats for infants and toddlers; hauling children back and forth from athletic events; taking the dog for a ride; packing bags of groceries to feed the gang at home; and driving our adolescents and their friends to the mall or some other social gathering.
But, my husband and I don't have a dog... we have two cats who don't particularly like to ride in the car; we don't have children and the groceries we buy, for the most part, are just for the two of us. So, why the family wagon? Thankfully, we have aging mothers!
Now we pack walkers (rollators) that allow our moms to sit when they get tired, and keep them balanced when they walk. We may buy them groceries, but they're limited due to the meals they get at their continuing care community. We haul them to various events... alas, most of them seem to be doctor's appointments. We crank up the volume on the radio but it's not so they can sing along and groove to the beat... it's so they can HEAR any beats!
The music we play is not of our time.... it's of THEIR time... We don't talk about the news of today; we reminisce about days gone by and speak more of emotion than facts. Head matters less..... heart matters most. We exchange "I love you's" at every encounter and offer hugs as if they may be our last one, because they could be.
I have the privilege of watching my husband demonstrate patience (most of the time...), advocacy, and compassion for our moms and I fall in love with him all over again. Both Robin and I are learning to be less judgmental and more accepting; to exercise our sense of humor and the art of forgiveness. We are parents at a mature age and thank God every day that we can give back to our moms who have given us so much! On this day of Independence, we are thankful for our freedoms and for those who are dependent on us. God Bless........
"Real magic in relationships means an absence of judgment of others." Wayne Dyer
Clients often ask me what's the difference between coaching and other disciplines. They laugh at me when I declare: "I'm not coaching now; I'm consulting." Their response is often: "I don't care what you're doing.. both are valuable!"
Perhaps so, yet there is a BIG difference, and as I ponder what I think the greatest distinction is, I've decided that what makes coaching unique from all other disciplines is the safety created by our refraining from judgment.
There has been much written about the negative impact of judgment on the brain (see David Rock's work-- particularly as it relates to his SCARF model); or Brene Brown's popular youtube video on The Power of Vulnerability with over 1 million views, and was recently featured on The Oprah Winfrey Network. Judgment hurts and, to the brain, is received in the same way as if a huge tiger was chasing you! It causes pain and results in a fight or flight reaction. Why do people get defensive when criticized? Why do people avoid those who are so adamant about their being right and you being wrong?
I was working with a client recently who had a great deal of emotion around unfulfilled promises in the work setting. She was promised a promotion that due to numerous changes at work, didn't happen. Our work focused around her ultimate goal and what actions would be in service to her goal. She could remain bitter and angry, but would that advance her desire to be seen as worthy of promotion? What other choices did she have and what was she willing to do? What was most important?
As you can imagine, emotions around value, self-worth, self-confidence and respect were prevalent. How does one assess their value? Does it come from us or from people external to us? And, what power are we willing to relinquish and to what impact?
I found myself feeling great after our conversation, believing that the client had insights that may serve her well in reaching her goals. Within 24 hours, the client took action that I found myself questioning. As I wrestled with what to do/ say about this, I paused and thought about the coaching relationship. My role is not to judge. The client's success or failure is not about ME... what I would do in any situation is about ME and not my client.
My role as coach, is to be aware of my own reactions and judgments, and put that aside. As a coach, I enter a dialogue with my client around what prompted her to act, and how it has advanced or interfered with her vision of success. My role is not to be right or wrong... nor to hold that judgment up to my client. My role is to be a mirror reflecting back to my client my observations of her behavior, and the impact the behavior has had on her success. Knowing that she is infinitely wise and capable, I know she will find her way.
There are few other relationships I know of where that level of acceptance, belief, and validation exist. The safety created in an attitude of "non-judgment" is palpable and makes ALL the difference. The only other relationship I know of that holds that safety is our relationship with our four-legged friends. They don't care what mood we're in; whether we did something that could be perceived as "stupid;" they don't care that we ignored them or forgot their 5pm feeding and are late. All they care about is that we are there for them; take care of their basic needs, and spend a few moments sharing in their unconditional love. I could do much worse than using my feline companions as models for how I wish to BE with my clients! Perhaps I should start asking my clients: "Are you purring??"
As always, I welcome your thoughts and insights!
How to create a more loving relationship by Gina Lake (published in the Daily Om)
Joy Goldman is an avid photographer, and perpetual seeker of positive and inspiring views. She has spent much of her life, regardless of career expression, in finding what's positive, and using that to serve others. As a lifelong learner, Joy lives the principles she teaches, and challenges herself to be a model for the courage, humility and authenticity she requests of others.