J is for Jump

Take a deep breath and jump into opportunities!

Take a deep breath and jump into opportunities!

When was the last time you jumped? It may have been during an exercise class but quite possibly you may not have jumped at all lately!  Do you ever find yourself slouching in your chair or walking with hunched shoulders and a droopy neck? This can easily happen without even being aware of it. More often than not we walk around with a lot of tension or sit hunched over our Smartphones and tablets.

New research reveals that poise is not the only thing lost when we give in to the temptation to slump. Such postures can send “sad” signals to our brain, darkening our mood. On the other hand, acting out certain “happy” movements has the opposite effect, brightening our outlook and lifting our spirits. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy  studies body language and the impact it has on your hormones. Cuddy and her team have classified different body positions as “high power” or “low power” poses. In general, the high power poses are open and relaxed while the low power poses are closed and guarded. Her famous TED talk on power poses goes into more detail on this. Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Amy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
—Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat for Humanity

Freeway Sign - Decision - Yes or NoYou can also jump symbolically by simply saying “yes” more. In fact, why not try saying “yes” for one day and see what happens? We have this ability to constantly say yes, agree to new opportunities, walk through new doors, and each time we do something, even if it’s a perceived failure or mistake, we’re always going to learn something. In fact, we’ll probably learn more if we fail. So it’s key to break down this fear of failure and start saying ‘yes’ to things that we know will enrich us, whichever way it goes. Have you ever noticed how often you say “No?” Not just to things that merit refusal, but to fresh ideas, new possibilities and the chance to make unexpected discoveries? Whenever you say “No” to life, you miss an opportunity: to discover something new, to try something you haven’t tried before, to learn and grow, to find some aspect of yourself or others that you missed before. To start afresh with an interest, a project or maybe your life’s true calling.

So many people go through life and work convinced that there is only one path open to them. That makes it true, because they never try anything else. But the world is a huge, glorious experiment, not a set of rules to be followed and boxes to the checked. How much you are willing to join in that experiment is up to you. The closer that you stick to the same script, the less you will discover about what might be even better. What holds most people back is fear of losing what they already have, however imperfect it might be. Just remember that you are in control of the experiment.

So jump and do power poses and say yes more! That’s it.

The Advantage cover - low resolutionThe Advantage is a unique two-day experiential learning workshop that raises immediate awareness of adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, being proactive, optimism and resilience. This workshop is currently being delivered within a range of settings from employability to corporate. It is effective because the facilitator works with what emerges from the group in the moment. We are currently licensing trainers to deliver this workshop. Find out more here.

The Advantage workshop is based on the book by Emma Sue Prince published by Pearson Business and translated into eight languages.

I is for Improvisation

comedyimprovNL

Every conversation in life is an act of improvisation: no one gives you a script for the day when you wake up. This is why it is a good idea to train ourselves in the art of improvising. What I know about improv is that it  helps me pay attention, proper attention, to all the situations I didn’t realize I could influence, or that were available to me if only I noticed them. It helps me to relax and to be happy no matter what life may throw at me. We can plan all we like and worry all we like and the truth is that most of what we worry about does not happen. It’s the curve balls life throws that we need to be ready for and that is where improv comes in.

You can go to an improv class – there are lots of them around and well worth trying because you’ll be taken through loads of exercises and games that immediately heighten your awareness. Here are some basic principles of improv that we can apply to our lives and that will go a long way towards making us happier!

YES!Say yes – probably the cornerstone of all improv saying yes is about accepting offers and being open to opportunities. More importantly, say “yes, and….”. Practising saying yes in an improv workshop can really open your mind to the times when you shut somebody’s ideas down before they have had a chance to explain what they really mean. Saying yes does not always commit you to something, it just opens the door to a more positive and expansive world. Saying “yes, and…” allows ideas to be built on and solutions to be found.

Listen, don’t talk – Talking can often be a defensive move. It can literally cut someone off. You may as well just say ‘no’ if you interrupt somebody. Now it might well be that you mean to, and should say ‘no’ to an ill-formed or ill-advised idea, but even so it is far more powerful to listen, not talk, listen again and then disagree with someone with a calm assertiveness rather than irritation.

Keys to Happiness - Concept on Golden Keychain over Black Wooden Background. Closeup View, Selective Focus, 3D Render. Black and White Image.Listen to your body – There are certain improvisation exercises that involve people stepping forward or into the middle of a circle to deliver a line. It’s amazing that people’s bodies seem to instinctively know when to contribute but then the brain kicks in and shuts the impulse down. This is not about barging in and taking the limelight, it is more about your natural intuition and how to use it. If you train yourself to trust your physical instincts, you will find that your body often knows far better than your brain does. Listen to it.

Break patterns – We all have routines that we follow every day in repeated situations. We need these to avoid being overwhelmed with decisions on how to behave. Sometimes though our patterns can mask a more genuine response to a situation. If you nod informally to the security guard at the door to your office building every morning, then try talking to them once in a while. If you always have the same dessert from the canteen, then try something else. It may seem trivial but many studies have shown that breaking our patterns keeps us agile and makes us more alert and responsive to stimuli.

Move – Getting up and moving around is an intrinsic part of an improvisation workshop but it has a hidden benefit. We think more creatively and intuitively when we are moving – think about the ideas you have when on a long walk or when staring out of a train window. If you find yourself in a dead-end with a problem or creatively blocked when creating something, then get up and move. In an improv workshop we will try to avoid doing exercises or scenes while seated as this instantly lowers our energy, but many decisions are made while seated. Get up and move and you will find an immediate improvement to your happiness.

The Advantage cover - low resolutionThe Advantage is a unique two-day experiential learning workshop that raises immediate awareness of adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, being proactive, optimism and resilience. This workshop is currently being delivered within a range of settings from employability to corporate. It is effective because the facilitator works with what emerges from the group in the moment. We are currently licensing trainers to deliver this workshop. Find out more here.

The Advantage workshop is based on the book by Emma Sue Prince published by Pearson Business and translated into eight languages.

H is for Hope

Human beings are hard-wired to hope!

Human beings are hard-wired to hope!

How hopeful are you? Have you considered how, or even whether, hope influences your family, work, or health? Did you know that there is a science of hope and that it has a substantial impact on happiness levels?

Hope and Happiness

The three elements of hope include having goals (seeking out where you want to go), feeling empowered to shape your daily life, and identifying multiple avenues toward making your goals happen. Working toward meaningful life goals is one of the most important strategies happy people utilize. In one study, hope proved to be a strong predictor of satisfaction, leading the study’s authors to suggest that hope is a symptom of happiness.

The very good news is there is quite a number of internal circumstances […] under your voluntary control. If you decide to change them (and be warned that none of these changes come without real effort), your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly. (Seligman 2002, p. xiv)

Martin Seligman is a leading pioneer of positive psychology. According to Seligman, we can experience three kinds of happiness: 1) pleasure and gratification 2) embodiment of strengths and virtues and 3) meaning and purpose. Each kind of happiness is linked to positive emotion. How does this link to hope? Well, working towards your own life goals and feeling positive about them, taking consistent and steady action towards them is all about hope and these actions are within your own control. Seeking shorter-term pleasure and gratification does lead to a certain kind of happiness and positive emotion but this is also likely to be shorter lived.

Tightrope Walker Balancing on the RopeThey key facets of hope

For hope to be present we need to hold on to these beliefs and actions:

  1. That the future will be better than the present
  2. That we have a say in how our life unfolds
  3. That there are multiple pathways to achieving personal and professional goals
  4. That there will be obstacles that can be overcome and navigated successfully.

What is true about hope is that these internal beliefs and thoughts require effort – when you are striving to achieve something there will be times when you may feel like giving up or when you need to question your approach and try something else. All of this, in turn, requires building your self-awareness so that you do really understand your strengths and weaknesses, are able to assess situations realistically and are able to respond to circumstances around you rather than simply react.

Being a hopeful thinker about the future will help you build your resilience and give you yet another tool for handling stress, change, and adversity.

The Advantage cover - low resolutionThe Advantage is a unique two-day experiential learning workshop that raises immediate awareness of adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, being proactive, optimism and resilience. This workshop is currently being delivered within a range of settings from employability to corporate. It is effective because the facilitator works with what emerges from the group in the moment. We are currently licensing trainers to deliver this workshop. Find out more here.

The Advantage workshop is based on the book by Emma Sue Prince published by Pearson Business and translated into eight languages.

G is for Grit

Happiness in an inside jobGrit – you may or may not know that grit means a perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Did you know, though, that grit predicts both success and happiness in life?  It is not a personality trait but something that you can develop,

So, just how do you go about developing grit and get happy in the process?

1. By taking more risks – this is not doing things that are dangerous but more about being open to opportunities, not discounting anything and simply saying “yes” more. Or trying a new approach to something and doing more that is outside the comfort-zone we all like to be in most of the time.

Take a Risk or Play it Safe Pyramid BallsIn a world that’s changing as fast as ours is, the riskiest thing you can do is keep your head down, take no risks and make no mistakes. We all need to get out there and make those mistakes – celebrate failure because you are always, always, always (without exception) going to miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take. So you may as well take them. In fact, failure is the very best way to learn and build stronger self-awareness.

Binocular2. Getting curious  without it it’s easy to lose motivation and not ask enough questions – either of yourself or of anyone else. Again, it’s in our nature to be curious so we just need to cultivate that more. Noticing things and being drawn to things – cultivating a sense of curiosity about life brings renewed energy and ideas. Finding novelty and meaning even in things that are familiar. Doing this automatically heightens our engagement with life and makes us more capable of embracing opportunities and, perhaps more importantly, more likely to spot them in the first place. It can be done in the simplest of ways with everyday things. Getting curious requires attention and being present and not resorting to default assumptions about anything.

3. Networking – we’re all doing this all the time withconstant information and sharing on social media. Good networking is all about carefully cultivating all relationships – from being savvy on LinkedIn and other professional social media tools) to thinking strategically about relationships, taking initiatives, sharing interesting stuff and insights and really engaging with other people. If want to accelerate our careers and pursue new ideas, then reaching out for support and connecting via relationships and networking are how you do that. People are the source of resources, opportunities and information. The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.

We need to keep learning and cultivate learning new skills.

We need to keep learning and cultivate learning new skills.

4. Getting agile at learning – anyone who continually excels, moves up quickly, innovates or starts a business – all of them show a learning agility that many of us lack. Learning agility is the ability and willingness to learn from your experiences and, most importantly, apply that learning to perform successfully under new or first-time conditions. So what you are doing really is sifting through many diverse lessons and identifying the right ones to apply in the new situation. This is not related to IQ and doesn’t come from traditional learning the way a lot of us were taught so we need to get out there and do it ourselves.

Becoming happier is all about action! 

The Advantage cover - low resolutionThe Advantage is a unique two-day experiential learning workshop that raises immediate awareness of adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, being proactive, optimism and resilience. This workshop is currently being delivered within a range of settings from employability to corporate. It is effective because the facilitator works with what emerges from the group in the moment. We are currently licensing trainers to deliver this workshop. Find out more here.

F is for Failure

Failure buttonHow on earth does failure feature in the A -Z of happiness? I believe that failing is something we need to learn to be much better at and that by doing so this can contribute significantly to our happiness levels. When you’re at your lowest depths, it’s also hard to believe that you’re often living the most positive experience of your life. This only happens looking back on the experience.

Most of the time we avoid “failing” and in doing so we also avoid lots of opportunities to try out new things, to fulfil our potential and to succeed. Ask yourself:

  • what have I done lately that scares me?
  • When was the last time I tried something and failed?
  • When was the last time I felt vulnerable investing my full passion?

Fulfilling our potential often does mean pushing beyond our comfort zone and engaging with life right at the edge of our abilities instead of giving in to “I’m not good at xxx” or “I can’t”.

I Choose Happiness Colorful BlocksDid you know, for example, that you can become excellent at something by in fact failing at it over and over again? Most of us apply ourselves to task when we are still learning how to do it or learning the skill. That means we actually stop applying effort once we’ve reached an “acceptable” level of performance. After that we relax and tread water. Only about 1/4 of us keep going and continue to improve and get excellent. And that happens by making mistakes. By failure.

The trick is to fail and feel ok doing it. That is what I have learned. And that is about knowing “hey that’s ok – I’ll pick myself up and start again”. It’s about learning from failure and doing it better next time around. To improve and succeed at any task, you must be willing to take the risk and taking risk means you might fail. It is only natural for you to feel bad when you do, but you must remember, that is a sign you are making an attempt to find solutions. So use failure as a learning tool. Learn the lessons and move on. If you learn the lessons from your mistakes, you won’t make them again, and you will become stronger, wiser and more experienced as well as far more resilient.

When you wake up in the morning knowing that you can take risks, that you may fail but it’s ok – over time you get better at it and because of that, fear disappears, your comfort zone expands and you start feeling more relaxed and happier!

The Advantage cover - low resolutionThe Advantage is a unique two-day experiential learning workshop that raises immediate awareness of adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, being proactive, optimism and resilience. This workshop is currently being delivered within a range of settings from employability to corporate. It is effective because the facilitator works with what emerges from the group in the moment. We are currently licensing trainers to deliver this workshop. Find out more here.

E is for Energy

Happiness is about where you choose to direct your energy. In that sense happiness really is within our control. It is easy sometimes to waste energy on the things we can’t control – we’ll make assumptions about situations or other people and think ourselves into a funk or negative mood. Much of this is based on the internal stories we will tell ourselves about a situation which our brain then fully buys into and believes.

This is not helped by social media and a world in which a lot of communication happens behind a screen making it very challenging to use empathy to aid our understanding.

How can we boost energy levels to surround ourselves with more light and positivity?

Be grateful –The first way to increase happiness levels is to simply give thanks. Once a day stop and think, or even better write down, three or four things in your life that you’re currently very thankful for. These can be anything from the sunshine at your window and the coffee in your hand to the bigger things like health, work and family/friends. Doing this regularly will put you in a better and happier frame of your mind, changing your outlook for the day and helping you sleep better if you write these down last thing at night. Numerous studies show the benefits of practising gratitude.

Be proactive – energy comes from action. The worst place to feel is stuck so whatever it is you are trying to do, try breaking it down into smaller chunks and taking action – even 5 minutes of action help! Or, if you are feeling upset or down, take action by getting out for a walk and some reflection. Often all we need is a little perspective.

Stretch and breathe – these may sound like odd things to do to boost energy and happiness but stretching in the morning will awaken your body, increasing blood flow and circulation helping you feel healthier and stronger. Breathing correctly and deeply at regular intervals throughout the day is deeply calming whilst moving oxygen around your body. Feeling calm boosts mood and helps you feel more in control.

Eating healthily – how can this boost energy and happiness? Simply – many foods are unhealthy and make you feel bloated or exhausted. Try to keep your diet as fresh as possible using brain boosting foods like salmon, fresh vegetables, blueberries and plenty of water.

Beautiful girl sleeps in the bedroom .

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Sleep more – none of us get sufficient sleep really and there is still some kind of badge of honour for managing with less sleep. But your body needs sleep for energy. What a lot of people don’t know or misunderstand about sleep is how important it is to our overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. Lack of sleep makes us less alert, slows reaction times, and impairs memory–so aside from physical health, there’s a huge mental cost to not getting enough sleep, too.

Use mindfulness to bring yourself back into the present moment whenever you feel yourself starting to feel anxious or worried. Focus on what you can hear, sense, smell, see and touch – breathe deeply and rejoice in simply being alive.

The Advantage – a unique two-day experiential learning workshop that raises immediate awareness of adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, being proactive, optimism and resilience. This workshop is currently being delivered within a range of settings from employability to corporate. It is effective because the facilitator works with what emerges from the group in the moment. We are currently licensing trainers to deliver this workshop. Find out more here. 

The Advantage cover - low resolution

Based on the best-selling book translated into 8 languages.

D is for Dog

PuppyloveDogs can make you happy – I’m living proof of that. Continuing in the A -Z set of blogs on how to be happy D is definitely for dog!

Looking after a pet reduces tension and stress and helps me to live in the moment. When I watch our Golden Retriever puppy (he’s a bit bigger now than in this picture) chasing leaves, running joyously and coming up to us to be stroked he teaches me to be more present and in the now.  Numerous studies have shown that owning a dog benefits a person’s physical and mental well-being.

Take walks for example – dogs need to be walked rain or shine – that means you are getting out into the fresh air and into nature. Exercise and an opportunity to clear your mind and become refreshed.

The key to happiness is in your hands!

The key to happiness is in your hands!

A recent study at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that people who have strong connections to their pets also have social and relationship benefits. The researchers surveyed 500 18- to 26-year-olds and found that those who had “strong attachment to pets reported feeling more connected to their communities and relationships.” They also found that the more attached a person was to an animal as a teenager and young adult, the more empathetic and confident he or she was. Having close relationships is an important part of being happy.

Another Japanese study found that your level of oxytocin (the neurohormone that elicits feelings of happiness) raises intensely after interacting with your dog. The only interaction you need is to stare into your dog’s eyes. According to the study those who looked longer into their dog’s eyes had the bigger dose of oxytocin!

Perhaps this is one of the best arguments for why a dog is a great asset to one’s life: A dog takes us back to simpler modes of interaction. In a world of email and texting and videoconferencing, a relationship with a dog is unmediated by technology. A dog’s needs are simple and easy to meet and in return they give loyal and love – this is my experience anyway.

Enjoy Every Moment ConceptI know that life with Oscar, although hard work at the beginning as I had never owned a dog before and knew nothing about puppies, makes me laugh more and feel happy and more relaxed.

How to work on holiday

Tropical beachI write quite a bit about work-life balance and the necessity and value of switching off at regular times and to not be “always on”. So it may seem odd that I am now writing about working when you’re on holiday. I’m not talking about checking emails though – that isn’t work! We should definitely be unplugging as much as possibly when on holiday. This “checking in” business really isn’t necessary – it may help you de-stress, but if you’re unlucky, it can stress you out more and compel you to waste your entire day online solving some crisis. Putting on that auto-responder so that you can go away for a rest and time with loved ones or doing something you enjoy is really important. If you cave in just once and start answering emails whilst you are away, it sets the precedent that your colleagues and clients can bother you at any time during your precious, hard-earned time off. And they will. Subscribe to the anti-Nike advice: Just don’t do it.

Full length portrait of casual woman working by the sea on her vacation. Middle age female sitting on the rock and typing on her laptop.

If you can, I recommend going away in summer and ignoring your laptop completely. It may be a little nerve racking at first, but it’s also the best way to recharge.

So what do I mean then by the concept of working on holiday? I think there is truly valuable work which can be achieved on holiday. Being away from the workplace helps you to mentally and spiritually recharge returning with renewed energy, ideas and focus. If you constantly are checking back in, this recharge never gets to happen because your brain is firmly wired in to every-day work and email dopamine loops. So key to achieving valuable work on holiday is planning ahead, delegating projects, preparing your clients and colleagues for the dates you’ll be away and taking as little work “hardware” with you as possible. One thing I did recently which has truly rejuvenated my energy and productivity is to remove email from my Smartphone and tablet completely – that way I never feel tempted to check it. Nothing has been lost by doing this – on the contrary I am more efficient and deal with emails much more effectively.

This is how to work on holiday – whether home or abroad:

Take a notebook with you – use this to write in every day. Yes, every day – just write and see what comes out. You will find that solutions to problems that may have been unachievable back at work emerge, you’ll get new ideas and a fresh perspective. Choose to write about work!

 

alignements de crayons de couleurs en macroTake colouring pencils – get a little mindfulness colouring book and start colouring.  This helps your brain to switch off very fast and tap into calm because it turns down  the part of the brain that controls our fight or flight response, and keeps us in a state of alert (which unfortunately it is likely to be most of the time when we’re at work). Allowing your brain to relax allows it to be much more resourceful. Colouring also utilises areas of the brain that enhance focus and concentration. It also helps with problem solving and organisational skills.

Sort out files – if you do take your laptop with you –  or if you plan to, as I am to take some time off to be at home as well as away – then take this opportunity to thoroughly sort out your files and systems. This is the kind of work we never have time for day-to-day yet is important for creating order and flow.

Go for walks – being out and about in the fresh air is one of the best things you can do to be more effective at work! This is one thing you just may start to incorporate into your daily work routine. Imagine having walking meetings! Take time to walk and to notice what is around you. The ability to focus is a number one skill and one we are rapidly losing. Tap back into this skill and watch how resourceful you become, how much more relaxed and creative.

Have conversations – don’t be tempted to Google everything. Practise having conversations where you slowly debate and chew over something rather than immediately Googling for a quick fix. Our Smartphone are fast becoming an appendage and lessening that dependency for short periods whilst you are away from work cannot be a bad thing.

Tourists couple looking at city mapRead that map! – Once upon a time, before there was such a thing as a local data plan, there were maps, guidebooks, notes, and even human beings who could interact and share information. These resources still exist. The problem with compulsive app-ing is that it chips away at the very thing that makes travel rewarding: a sense of engagement and discovery. Since it’s difficult to discover something when Google knows everything, a smartphone can at times wreck the qualities of communication, intuition, and experimentation that travel rewards. Not that technology should be left at home, but it should be considered a controlled substance on the road—a problem-solving tool but not a constant companion.

Have fun this summer – this will be my last blog until September when we’ll continue the A-Z of happiness.

C is for calm

Blue silence.Magnificent long exposure landscape with lake view after sunset.I do believe that part of being happy is feeling calm in the face of uncertainty, unpredictability, setbacks and just life. Being happy in the everyday is within our grasp and being calm is part of what will help us to enjoy life much more. Yet it is not always easy to feel this inner strength. When things are uncertain and we start to worry we are capable of creating drama in our minds: obsessing about the past, or predicting what might happen in the future. This can easily happen when we feel overwhelmed by our work, responsibilities and under pressure.

So let’s look at some strategies to help to practise calm this week and see what happens!

  1. Honour how you are feeling – being calm is less about resisting the urge to worry and more about accepting it and even embracing it, knowing that to worry and feel anxious is natural. However, observing and experiencing the feeling helps to loosen its hold. We can then gently start to question some of our thoughts to test them out. Our brain will then naturally seek solutions or lessen the drama all by itself. It’s important not to voice these anxious feelings too much – posting how you are feeling on social media for example may feel good temporarily but once you start to get affirmations from others in response to your post (and you will) you are merely feeding those negative thoughts and feelings and making them stronger.
  2. Bring your awareness to the present – this will have an immediate effect. Practice Mindfulness DailyWe can become present by putting awareness on our breathing, our feelings, and the physicality of our being. We can pause and take a look around the room or place we’re in, reminding ourselves of where we are, and feeling our connection to the physical world. When we do this, we notice that right in this moment, we are actually okay. When you practise awareness in this way, you will rapidly feel reconnected to who you are and what is real in your life.
  3. Shift your energy – rather than spending our energy on worrying, we can use that energy to take positive action. So we can become the catalyst for change instead of being at the mercy of circumstance. When you find yourself caught up in worry, try to identify one small step that you can take immediately, that moves you towards a solution. Just by taking a small action, we move from a passive state to a proactive one, shifting our focus and creating momentum.
  4. Practise gratitude – this helps us change our thoughts and creates a flow of good Balancefeelings in our body, which will instantly transform our mood. Try to make a habit of writing down what you deeply appreciate about your life. Cultivate the feeling of appreciation as fully as possible. In doing this, we can change our physical state: allowing ourselves to experience a natural joy, openness and expansion in our body, rather than the physical or emotional contractions caused by stress.
  5. Let go of control – often anxiety is created by not feeling in control and feeling that many things are outside our control (which actually they are!) Letting go of control isn’t easy because of this but once we do so there is an immediate sense of ease and calm. It’s important for us to acknowledge that we can only ever control our own thoughts, words, actions, and responses in any situation. When we fully accept this, we can stop trying to control things that are external to us. We can take complete responsibility for the part we play in life, and surrender the rest to the world. When we stop clinging to the outcome, we release tension from our bodies and minds, and let ourselves follow the natural flow of life. The result is calm.

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The Advantage raises immediate awareness of seven soft skills: adaptability, empathy, integrity, critical thinking, being proactive, optimism and resilience. Daily practice of all of these results in a happier, productive and balanced life.

We currently deliver 2-day workshops to raise awareness of these skills and we are licensing trainers to deliver them to a range of different groups. Click on this link to find out more and join us 29th and 30th September and the 1st of October!

B is for Balance

BalanceHappiness is within your grasp. There are simple things each of us can to every day that can help us be happier. My aim with this new blog series is to select one of those that we can work on and practise – practice is always going to be important but I also want something that gives instant impact so that we can remember the impact and keep doing it! So B is for balance.

Most of us find it hard to create balance in our lives – we seem to be constantly rushing from one thing to another and our to-do list is never complete. Balance is a state of equilibrium that is inherent in the human condition. Yet our world is out of balance and it is for this reason that so many of us feel imbalanced. Our lives are impacted by constant change, speed, uncertainty, new technologies, globalisation and the associated demands that ignore basic human needs. The result of all this imbalance is stress and unhappiness. So creating balance has to be part of what can bring happiness to our lives.

Enjoy Every Moment ConceptWork life balance is traditionally interpreted as a balance between work and life as if there is always a clear divide between the two. Perhaps we need to be talking more about life balance? Life balance is not only essential for your happiness and wellbeing but can also be a tremendous boost to your productivity levels as the boundaries between work and life lessen.

The key to creating balance in your life is to start small. Start small because you will notice an immediate impact when you do. Here are some ways to do that:

1. Switch it off! One small action will immediately bring more calm and balance to your days: disconnect – try it for a weekend or for a day and if you can’t manage that then try just for a few hours. Give your poor brain a rest from being “always on”. Instead spend time with family, friends, drinking tea and slowing down.

2. Be healthy – if you are out of balance you are also likely to not be sleeping well or eating nutritional foods. You’ll be far happier if you are getting enough sleep, taking exercise and eating healthy food. Go for a walk, try cooking a delicious meal from fresh ingredients and use lavender essential oils to help you wind down at night.

3. Spend time alone – Making time for you is probably the hardest thing to do for the typical overwocurved ramp bridgerked and overwhelmed person, but it is crucial for lowering stress, increasing happiness and encouraging creativity. Some things to try: meditate, write, sketch,
do some yoga or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing.

4. Explore the world – Take a walk and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Notice buildings, nature and people. Take a new route, visit a new town or try being a tourist in your own. Attend a local performance, play amateur photographer or go to the park and with children play. They really know how to enjoy life!

5. Relationships matter – Set aside quality time with your family and friends Don’t just sit in front of the television – really connect and pay attention to those you care about. Make a date with your significant other, have coffee with a friend, play a game with a child. Really get to know the people around you.

Tightrope Walker Balancing on the RopeTry to do some of these things over the coming week. Try to critically assess your life from a balance perspective. You will know best of all which things feel out of balance. We can tell ourselves there is no time and there is too much to be done but by rushing around from one thing to the next we can end up getting even less done and feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Balance has to also be about how you are spending your time – when work and life blur as much as they do now you have to be in control over how you manage your technology, multiple demands on your time and energy and still have well-being and harmony. All of these actions are within your control and it’s vital to put energy on the things that are inside your control when there is so much uncertainty and change around us.

The Advantage is a new experiential learning workshop that raises immediate awareness of competences that are within each of us and that we can build and develop each day: adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, being proactive, optimistic and resilient.The Advantage cover - low resolution

We are currently running workshops via our licensed trainer network in the UK, Hungary and India. Find out more here.