Practice Strength Not Weakness

If you want to be a better golfer, practicing the wrong things will not get you there.

Want to be a better speaker?  Imitating someone else is unlikely to help you improve.

Confidence comes not from emphasizing things that actually detract from self-esteem but repeatedly practicing them – nothing is too trivial.

  • Constantly double down on existing and proven strengths
  • Avoid practicing ways to improve faults – even to try and make them better – because it’s more likely that practicing to eliminate weaknesses will only make them worse.
  • For help, seek out those with the skills necessary for meaningful improvement (you wouldn’t consult an accomplished public speaker to help strengthen your golf game).

Trading Fear for Optimism

I have a 96-year old friend.

She was a neighbor growing up in Springfield, PA and she is a loving, forgiving and relentlessly positive person.

So, here’s how she’s handling the pandemic in a senior living residence.

  • Being isolated from family and even friends at her residence is unfortunate but temporary.
  • She enjoyed Thanksgiving with a few family members by not comparing it to the previous Thanksgiving but to six months ago during the so-called lockdown.
  • She’s almost old enough to recollect the last pandemic but says this one will end and things will return to normal.
  • She oozes with gratitude and rejects doom and gloom; the type media outlets embrace for ratings

If a 96-year old can keep her chin up and look forward to 97, do you think we can reject all the negative news and believe along with her?

Doing Instead of Stewing

What is the best use of your time at this moment – that is the question posed by time management expert Alan Lakein.

Did you see that TV viewing has increased during middays because of all of us hunkered down and working or learning from home?

One way to look at things is – we’re in for a long winter quarantine.

The other way is to use the time to do all those things we never had time to do when life was normal in anticipation of our emancipation from this confinement.

Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire and we have a choice to start asking the question “what is the best use of my time at this moment”.

We can stew … or we can do.

The Secret to Motivating Others

A seal is rewarded with a fish by its trainer.

Dogs learn obedience from positive reinforcement – a treat is one way to reward an animal.

Humans too frequently resort to negative tactics to win cooperation – sometimes it works, but never for the long term.

  • Almost no one doesn’t respond to positive reinforcement whether it’s another adult or even a teenager.
  • Rewarding effort is better than criticizing performance.
  • Teach by asking indirect questions rather than make demands
  • A human “treat” is a “well done”, “I’m proud of your effort” or “thank you”

By showing others how to succeed, you succeed.

Approval & Acceptance

Confidence comes from the feeling of well-being, approval and acceptance of body and mind that comes from self-esteem.

The body is a gift not a needy urge to look like someone else.

Acceptance of mind is being comfortable with self.

Without confidence we outsource our needs to find it elsewhere leaving ourselves open to manipulation and co-dependence.

Without approval and acceptance of body and soul, confidence is likely to be unsatisfying and fleeting.

With it, it grows stronger.

Connect with Positive People

Many of our negative thoughts come from other people.

  • Cut the time spent with those who make you feel drained or pessimistic.
  • Increase your exposure to those who make you feel good and cultivate an air of positivity.

One simple adjustment directly affects our own positivity.

We become like those around us so if you choose to surround yourself with uplifting people, you will be less likely to suffer from hopelessness.

Calming Anxieties

Yoga and meditation are for soothing the mind.

They reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

Your brain isn’t made for thinking – it’s for anticipating your needs the way it reminds us we are thirsty or we need a jolt of adrenaline.

Every mental experience has its roots in the physical budgeting of the body.

The next time stress makes life miserable it might help to ask “budgeting” questions like “Did I get enough sleep”, “Am I hydrated”, “Should I take a walk”, “Call a friend”.

Inspired by Lisa Feldman Barrett, professor of psychology at Northeastern University – more here.

Feeling Overwhelmed

I get overwhelmed so easily
My anxiety creeps inside of me
Makes it hard to breathe
What’s come over me
Feels like I’m somebody else
I get overwhelmed so easily
My anxiety keeps me silent
When I try to speak
What’s come over me
Feels like I’m somebody else
I get overwhelmed
Songwriters: Jeoff Harris / Ryan Santiago / William Behlendorf / Mark Gozman
Overwhelmed lyrics © BMG Rights Management

When it feels like somebody else, try to get back in touch with you.

When anxiety causes silence, focus on staying busy.

In our world now, we’re connected to everything but less to ourselves.

Be a Better Listener

David Brooks wrote Nine Nonobvious Ways to Have Deeper Conversations in a recent New York Times article.

  • Ask open-ended questions (what was it like … tell me about a time …)
  • Make them authors not witnesses (not what happened but what they experienced)
  • Listen 100% present
  • Don’t fear the pause (most of us stop listening to a comment halfway through so when a person stops talking take your time to digest what you heard and respond.

“Humans need to be heard before they will listen,” Amanda Ripley

Pursuing Money

You can’t pursue money.  It outruns you.

Seeking to be the best at what you do brings remuneration in two ways:

  • You will be your happiest
  • You’ll make more money

Your chances of making more money come not from pursuing it, but by not trying so hard to make more and try harder at being the best.