5 Tips on Being Heard

1. Get the other person’s attention. Before you start speaking ensure that the other person knows you want her/his attention. Simply starting to talk is a highly ineffective way of getting someone to be attentive. An easy way of getting someone’s attention is saying her/his name and waiting for a reply.

2. Once you have the other person’s attention, ask if this is an okay time for a conversation (do this especially if what you are about to say is important). You might think that the other person is ready and eagerly awaiting your words but unless you check this out, you can’t actually be sure. Making sure that now is a good time for the other person helps ensure that you will create a genuine collaborative conversation.

3. Unless the other person automatically does this, then ask for all electronics to be put down, put away or turned off (this includes the TV). No matter how much the other person promises to multi-task, your conversation will go faster, smoother and you will feel more listened to if you are the only source of engagement, stimulation, feedback, etc…. Competing with technology for someone’s attention, focus, interest and care is a rather losing proposition – don’t waste your time engaging in this competition.

4. Stop to make sure that you have communicated your points clearly. Get feedback on what the person is hearing or thinks that you are saying. Things can seem clear in your mind but come out a bit cloudy. Welcome the other person’s questions, even if you feel you have already covered the answer, and keep in mind that (all things being equal) it is your job as the communicator to ensure that you express yourself in a way the other person understands.

5. Do not confuse listening with agreeing – someone may be listening to your every word but may simply disagree. Allow the other person to disagree. If this disagreement is based on misunderstanding then it is your job to highlight this, without annoyance, and re-communicate the misunderstood part(s).  If the disagreement is not based on misunderstanding, then take heart in your clear communication and practice agreeing to disagree.

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5 Tips on Building a New Habit

1. Be specific and clear. What is the exact habit/behavior that you want to incorporate into your life? Specific habits/behaviors that are clearly defined are much easier to add to your life. For example, wanting to increase your level of health is well and good but it is a rather vague idea, while wanting to increase your weekly exercise from twice a week to three times a week is a clear, specific and track-able behavior. Guess with which goal you will have better success? The last, of course….

2. Start small – you will be far more successful if you start with small increments of change. Once again be precise about what the exact increment of change is. After you have succeeded in incorporating the small step into your life, then move on to the next small step; if you keep going all these small steps will create the larger habit you desire to develop.

3. Expect lapses in your new habit – the odds are low that you will be able to implement the new habit without any days where you simply forget, derail or do anything but your new behavior. If you expect this all along, then the lapse is not seen as a failure but as a normal part of the growing process.

4. After every lapse, dust yourself off and get back up. If you keep getting back up and keep implementing your small steps, you will develop the habit you desire. The Japanese proverb, “fall down six times, get up seven” is an apt one to remember.

5. Strive to have a patient attitude. As you know, building a new habit into your life is a long and often slow process – in part because you are changing your standard way of doing things. It will take time and diligence. Being patient with yourself rather than frustrated with the natural learning curve will help you stick with it until your new habit seems like a tried and true old habit.

My 5 Tips On Courage

1. Courage can arise before the action is taken or courage can arise during the course of action. Regardless of when the courage arises, courage tends to propel you to keep going – it can make you immune to fear and annihilate doubt allowing you to engage in courageous or heroic acts.

2. At the same time, courageous acts can be done without an ounce of courage. Many heroes will say that they did not feel particularly courageous, heroic or brave; they simply did what they knew needed to be done. While we may want our heroes to feel courageous and while it may be easier to do heroic acts, while feeling courage, – none of these emotions are required for noble deeds to be done.

3. Deeply held beliefs, convictions or deeply felt emotions (such as love) can be what triggers courage. This courage can come from knowing exactly what to do, from having prepared for the moment or as a reaction to other emotions.

4. Necessity can also give rise to courage. Sometimes the circumstances you find yourself in will bring courage to the surface – and the presence of the courage may even surprise you. Courage lies in all of us even if on a daily basis you lean more towards the timid, anxious or fearful side.

5. Courage is independent of results because it arises before the results are in. Simply because an action does not lead to the desired results, does not mean that courage was not involved. We are often taught that courage and success are one and the same, but unfortunately the two run on separate tracks. Keep this in mind the next time you muster up your courage but are not met with success – your courage existed and was noble.

To Cope with Comparisons

1. If comparing your situation to other situations (or people) that are worse, harder, more difficult, etc… leads to increased gratitude or appreciation then this is a healthy, beneficial mode of comparison.

2. If however, this comparison is being used to minimize the difficulties, hardship, or pain of your situation then this is not a healthy, wise or beneficial comparison. Regardless of what others have gone through, your hardships are yours and it is far wiser to grow through your difficulties or pain than to minimize and thereby avoid them.

3. Be careful when comparing yourself to those you deem to be less – be it less motivated, less successful, less healthy, less kind, etc…. It is easy to see yourself has being far above others when it may simply be that life has been an easier road for you. Stay humble and gracious to the helping hands you have received in your life.

4. Be careful when comparing yourself to the wondrous achievements, dazzling accomplishments and coveted accolades of others – it is wildly complicated to make such comparisons in an accurate manner and truth be told, such comparisons often lead to one feeling like a complete failure; which most likely is not true.

5. It may be a far more fruitful pursuit to compare yourself to your own unique self than to compare yourself to others. Comparing yourself to what your realistic potential is can be an inspiration to grow. Ask yourself, what is your 100% effort today, what is your best, most pure version of you today – and can you strive towards living up to these standards?

My 5 Tips on Love

1. Exalt in the fact that you are loved. Someone somewhere loves you – whether it is a parent, friend, sibling or romantic partner; you are loved. Celebrate that amidst the vastness of our world, there are people who know you, care about you, love you and root for you to live a wonderful life.

2. Express & share your love. Don’t be shy – send out those “I love you” texts, emails, phone calls, cards or better yet, say it in person. It truly is a gift to have people that you love and expressing your love is a joyful way of claiming this truth.

3. Do something you love. Even though romantic love is celebrated as the holy grail of love, why not spend a little bit of time celebrating something that brings you happiness and joy? Doing something you love is just one way of expressing goodness as well as love towards yourself – and at the end of the day you spend far more time with yourself than with anyone else.

4. Keep your expectations reasonable. All the hype around romance can make you think that an anniversary or birthday without exquisite flowers, high end chocolates, ethereal perfume and priceless jewels is a worthless day. While these items might be lovely in and of themselves they cannot create the love we all crave and strive towards. If your sweetheart shows you genuine, deep and true love without any flowers, chocolates, perfumes or jewels – accept the statement of love with genuine gratitude (and if you desperately want some of these items, expressly ask your partner to purchase them as a gift or see step 3 and buy them for yourself).

5. If you are single, keep some basic facts in mind: a romantic relationship is only one sliver of a satisfying life, it is possible to lead a full and wonderful life while being single, and most every adult has a long-term romantic relationship at some point in their adulthood – so take comfort you will not always be alone.

My 5 Tips on Romantic Love

These tips are based on the assumption that you are in an emotionally healthy and abuse free relationship. If your relationship is not healthy or has abusive elements, I encourage you to reach out to a professional for guidance in navigating your relationship.

1. Know that the passion, intensity, zest and absolute sheer awesomeness of every relationship will fade. In fact it must fade – it is simply impossible to maintain this emotional state over the long haul. Many experts state that this emotional state will fade out after roughly two years.

2. Newness is one of the reasons for this fade – the first few years of a relationship (or the first few years of living together, of being married, of having kids….) have a high number of new experiences. So, one way to help recapture moments of the initial passion, intensity, zest or awesomeness is to do new things – create  new traditions or rituals, for example how you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, valentine’s day, and do new things together, such as a new hobby, seeing new sights, going to new eateries, etc….

3. Another way to re-ignite passion is to do exciting, adrenaline releasing activities together. Now this doesn’t mean you need to start doing daredevil stunts or extreme sports, but some adventuresome activities may be in order. In addition non-adventuresome activities, which you create anticipation and enthusiasm around, will also generate excitement.

4. Talk – have actual, old school, genuine conversations. Turn off and put away all electronics, turn the TV off, minimize the distractions from children, family members, roommates, etc… and have lighthearted, serious, shallow, deep conversations. Share your emotions – regardless of what they are – and your thoughts with one another.

5. Every long-term relationship has pockets of time where they simply are no fun and it is natural to see oneself as stuck (keep in mind that just because the grass looks greener on the other side, doesn’t actually mean it is – most often it isn’t). Rather than thinking of yourself as stuck, think of yourself as making an active choice each and every day to have your relationship. While the choice you made at the ‘altar’ (be it an actual altar or the day you and your partner decided to commit) was beautiful, moving and meaningful – the choice you make every day to be an active participant in your relationship, to work towards the best version of your relationship is a far more important, pithy and enduring choice.

My 5 Tips on Romantic Love

These tips are based on the assumption that you are in an emotionally healthy and abuse free relationship. If your relationship is not healthy or has abusive elements, I encourage you to reach out to a professional for guidance in navigating your relationship.

1. Know that the passion, intensity, zest and absolute sheer awesomeness of every relationship will fade. In fact it must fade – it is simply impossible to maintain this emotional state over the long haul. Many experts state that this emotional state will fade out after roughly two years.

2. Newness is one of the reasons for this fade – the first few years of a relationship (or the first few years of living together, of being married, of having kids….) have a high number of new experiences. So, one way to help recapture moments of the initial passion, intensity, zest or awesomeness is to do new things – create  new traditions or rituals, for example how you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, valentine’s day, and do new things together, such as a new hobby, seeing new sights, going to new eateries, etc….

3. Another way to re-ignite passion is to do exciting, adrenaline releasing activities together. Now this doesn’t mean you need to start doing daredevil stunts or extreme sports, but some adventuresome activities may be in order. In addition non-adventuresome activities, which you create anticipation and enthusiasm around, will also generate excitement.

4. Talk – have actual, old school, genuine conversations. Turn off and put away all electronics, turn the TV off, minimize the distractions from children, family members, roommates, etc… and have lighthearted, serious, shallow, deep conversations. Share your emotions – regardless of what they are – and your thoughts with one another.

5. Every long-term relationship has pockets of time where they simply are no fun and it is natural to see oneself as stuck (keep in mind that just because the grass looks greener on the other side, doesn’t actually mean it is – most often it isn’t). Rather than thinking of yourself as stuck, think of yourself as making an active choice each and every day to have your relationship. While the choice you made at the ‘altar’ (be it an actual altar or the day you and your partner decided to commit) was beautiful, moving and meaningful – the choice you make every day to be an active participant in your relationship, to work towards the best version of your relationship is a far more important, pithy and enduring choice.

5 Tips on Managing Time

1. How accurate is your internal sense of time? Some people have an accurate internal clock, allowing them to easily track the passing of time; while others have an internal clock that runs either fast or slow; while still others fall somewhere in-between. Knowing how your internal clock runs, allows you to determine just how much help you need from external aides, such as a physical clock, and from internal strategies, such as the ones listed below.

2. Use a timer. Unless you have an accurate internal clock and can track time while engaged in another activity – use a timer. A key struggle with time management, which also happens to be one of the easiest to fix, is that one looses track of time – so instead of spending 30 minutes on a project, 90 have past. It is most helpful to set the timer for a meaningful chuck of time, phrased another way – what are you going to do when the timer ends? Is the timer simply a way to track how long you are working on something? Do you want your task to be completed by the end of this chunk of time? Do you want a certain percent of the task completed by the time the timer beeps? Is the timer the signal to end the task/project, to clean it up and walk away? Using a timer keeps you tethered to the linear (versus experiential) aspect of time.

3. Before starting with a project or with your day’s agenda, take a step back and objectively assess a) just how long each task will realistically take and b) whether you truly have enough time to complete the project or to-do list. Often times people create a project or to-do list not realizing just how elaborate and time consuming it is. In addition, some people struggle with accurately assessing just how long a task will take. For example, running a 5 minute errand during a break may seem do-able but those 5 minutes may only capture the time spent in the store, if no one else is there – adding in the amount of time it takes to find a parking spot, walk into the store, wait in line, purchase the product, etc…. may actually make the 5 minute a 30 minute errand that just doesn’t fit into a 20 minute break.

4. Create some rules. For those whose internal clock is not so accurate and/or those who misjudge the amount of time activities take, creating rules can be of help. While the content of these rules – as well as their creativity and flexibility – will vary depending on the situation and individual, the general theme is that these rules ensure a more accurate (linear) use of time. Some examples of rules that help manage time are: only putting _ items on a to-do list at a time, if those _ items get done then more can be added; to get ready _ minutes before having to leave the house; to leave the house at the exact same time everyday for work or school; to allow no errands if you are on the way to meeting someone, etc….

5. While some people change their clocks & watches to run fast – the idea being that this will make them think they are running late and then cause them to be on time – this generally does not work, since you know you changed your clock…. A bit of a wiser approach is to recognize that managing time is not one of your strengths and give yourself all the permission in the world to practice refining this skill by learning new strategies. Be as creative and unique as you can be to create external aides in managing the passage of time.

5 Tips on New Years Resolutions

Love them or avoid them, the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions is here; so, just a few tips on resolutions worthy to consider making.

1. Practice increasing the joy, laughter and gratitude in your life. When possible, when authentic, genuine and true spend a few moments cataloging some of things you can be grateful for. Grant yourself permission to laugh with abandon, to laugh out loud, to laugh often and over mildly funny or even minor things. Create space in your life to simply savor the joy of being alive.

2. Stretch your mind by engaging your intellectual curiosity. Learn about a new topic, read a non-fiction book, expand your vocabulary, explore a hobby, join a conversation that pushes you to think through your position and strive to understand the counter position.

3. Do one thing, however big or small to help reduce your negative impact on the environment – be it reducing your carbon footprint, consuming less or reusing more, recycling or simply educating yourself about the reality of this human crisis.

4. Grow empathy. Grow empathy towards those you know, love and care for; but also grow empathy for those you do not know, those who you will never meet, those who live miles and miles away. All of us call this globe our home and the vast majority of us are simply trying to do the best we can.

5. Get out into nature. Spend time outdoors without any motorized equipment, without any gadget or piece of technology – simply you and the outdoors. Notice and be a part of the natural world – even if for only a few minutes.

My five tips for treating yourself in a more loving way

1. Warmth & Limits – Ideal parenting is a combination of high warmth and high guidance, limits, boundaries…. Even though you are an adult that does not mean that this combination of warmth and limits is not necessary. Developing a more loving relationship with yourself can start by assessing if you have a tendency to drop out one of these essential elements. Once you see your pattern, practice re-introducing the missing or insufficient element. Keep in mind that the ideal is an overarching state of balance, with each precise situation having a different mix of warmth and limits i.e. some situations will be mainly limits while others will be heavy on the warmth.

2. Patience – Becoming frustrated, annoyed, irritated with ourselves is natural. The question is how do you respond to this – do you ratchet up your frustration with more annoyance or do you cool it down with an appropriate dose of patience? None of us arrived with a guidebook; we are all figuring it out as we go – so yes, there will be times when you are at your wits’ end with how you do your life. Patience towards yourself will not make your situation change but it will build a path through it.

3. Gentleness – If you have ever walked a rambunctious puppy, you know a thing or two about gentleness: the puppy requires countless redirects, corrections and discipline – that you don’t have a say in – but you can do all this with a gentle demeanor or a harsh one; both may get the job done but one will create a miserable experience, while the other will create a learning atmosphere where you and the puppy become a team. Phrased another way, gentleness does not mean a Pollyanna, ooey-gooey, starry eyed, skipping through the meadows attitude; it simply means that you interact with yourself from a stance of inherent mildness, moderation, good-naturedness, even-temperedness and the absence of harshness.

4. Perspective – Are you magnifying the little things and minimizing the big things? Often times we perseverate over and even judge ourselves harshly for minor mistakes, mess-ups or bloopers; while denying ourselves compassion, empathy, gentleness for major sources of hurt and pain. In addition we often neglect to celebrate the big moments in life, the milestones, achievements and key life events. So ask yourself, if the same event happened in a friends’ life, would you consider it major, minor or somewhere in between?

5. Humor – All too often we take our lives far too seriously, forgetting to laugh at the mishaps, one-offs and sheer fallibility of our humanness. Finding something funny is not the same as belittling or minimizing it; it simply means you can see the irony, humor, funniness within the situation. So ask yourself, if the same situation happened in a movie or to a stranger, would you see some humor in it? If so, then maybe you can practice seeing the humor in your own experience of the situation.