How mindful listening enhances love and happiness

Photo: MabelAmber, Pixabay

Autor: Happiness Academy, www.happinessacademy.eu

When we listen, we are often present there physically but not mindfully. Most of the time, we don’t listen carefully because we can’t stop our own “mental chatter”. Endless thoughts are flowing into our heads that start with judging what we hear, let us decide on our agreement or disagreement, and plan what exactly we should be answering. At some point, we realize that we have not even heard half of what the other person shared with us.

Sometimes we interrupt the conversation, become impatient, or share our opinions completely unprepared because we have not fully heard what has been said. And we behave most often like this with closest ones.

It is interesting and enlightening to see what symbols do the Chinese word “listen” consist of.

At the top part of the word we have the symbols for ears (I hear) and eyes (I see).

We use our ears to listen, paying attention not only to the words spoken, but also to the tone of voice, the speed, and the emphasis, in order to understand a person’s engagement and enthusiasm about the topic. If a person talks fast, loud, we know that he is engaged and interested in the topic. If the tone of voice is more monotonous or slow, with no moments of emphasis, with less modulation, we can assume that the person does not have too much interest in the topic. Just using our hearing effectively while listening helps us to understand a lot!

We use our eyes to connect with the person we are listening to and pay attention to. Through the eyes we observe the body language of the speaker to get a better understanding of him. Is he using too many gestures? It also tells us a lot about the level of confidence and enthusiasm of the speaker.

At the center of the word, the Chinese have placed the symbol of undivided attention (I focus). We think faster than we speak, and as a result we tend to fill in the gaps with our internal “mental chatter”. In order to listen mindfully, we need to stop the mental chattering and focus entirely on the conversation.

At the bottom of the word, the Chinese have put the heart symbol (I feel).
Empathy comes from the heart. We connect emotionally with the speaker thanks to our heart, that makes us compassionate.

The Chinese word for listening is so interesting because it contains an ancient wisdom showing us all the basic elements of mindful listening.

We humans are social beings – our communication never stops. This gives us endless opportunities to practice mindful listening.

Here’s a challenge for you – the next time you’re with a loved one or colleague, approach the conversation as a mindful listening exercise. Just see if you can listen with undivided attention. Hear and see what they are telling you. If you are practicing meditation, you already know that when your mind is distracted, without judgment, you need carefully to let go your thoughts and focus again on listening.

And just like happiness, mindful listening is contagious. If you manage to do it, you will probably soon notice that people are listening to you the same way.

The greatest gift we can make to others is giving them our undivided attention. In a world filled with so many problems and hurdles, mindful listening helps us to give and receive true love and attention in our lives.

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Happiness Academy’s mission is to teach what was not taught in a traditional classroom – how to live a life of happiness and fulfillment. They believe that happiness is not just a perfect image you have in your head or a future destination. It is a deep sense of satisfaction and well-being that you are able to train and cultivate. They commit to inspire, guide and empower people to learn Happiness.

Money or time?

Photo: Pixabay

Author: Happiness Academy, www.happinessacademy.eu

“What is more valuable – time or money?” is a question that will always be asked, and each answer will be different.

Debates on this issue are an increasingly common theme in social psychology. Many studies show that having more free time brings more happiness than having more money. This is also the conclusion from a large-scale 2016 survey conducted in 5 stages among 4,415 people with different incomes, jobs and demographics. Participants were asked what they value more – time or money –  but they also had to answer the question whether they would agree to get a lower salary for a new job that offers more free time.
The study has shown that people who think time is more important are happier and more satisfied with life.

Here are some other interesting findings from this study:

  • It does not matter if people want more time during their day or in their lives as a whole. Both lead to a higher level of happiness.
  • People who want more money to have more experiences are happier than those who want more money to buy material benefits.
  • When participants answered the question of whether they wanted more time or more money, those who wrote more time were a little happier at the moment than those who wanted money. This shows that even thinking of valuing more time than money can help to enhance our momentary happiness.
  • Rich people tend to express a greater preference over time vs. money in general, which may mean that it is more difficult to give a fair answer than we think or that people always want what they do not have.

Still, what to do: more time or more money?

It should be noted that for some people, the importance of money over time is a necessity, not a choice. Some people have to choose a better-paid job with longer working hours, otherwise they cannot cover their basic costs in life. I.e. even if they prefer to have more time than money, they cannot afford it.

Research in the US shows that money matters to happiness to the extent that it allows us to meet our basic needs (which is US $ 75,000 annual income). But provided that our basic needs are satisfied, we need to be careful what we want or what we pursue if we want to be happier. As Dr. Raj Raghunathan, Professor for Psychology at the University of Texas, writes in his book, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?“:

“The catch is that as revenue increases, costs increase and magically catch up on revenue. This is one of the reasons why the higher income does not improve the level of happiness. There is another reason for this, that the joyous feeling of raising our salary is quickly exhausted, and one needs a new increase to experience the same joy. Our tendency to become accustomed to our higher incomes – as indeed any other sign of superiority, including power, glory, or beauty – is so widespread that accustoming can be considered one of the most characteristic traits of our human nature. For example, the propensity to become accustomed is the main reason for the intriguing and well-known fact that lottery winners two years later are not happier than those who have never won. The fact that we are accustomed to new levels of wealth, power and glory – and other materialistic signs of superiority – means that if we have to bind our happiness with the need for superiority, we will have to become richer, stronger and more glorious throughout our whole lives to maintain high levels of happiness. You do not have to be a genius to know that is very unlikely.
The habit, therefore, is one of the reasons that materialism in the long run reduces the level of happiness. Another reason is unrealistically high expectations of people that material benefits will make them happy; these high expectations, according to surveys, are at the heart of the discontent of materially-oriented people. Materialism reduces their level of happiness, and because it promotes egocentrism and reduces compassion, it leads reluctance to others to cooperate with them, which in turn reduces their happiness in the long run. Maybe as a result of the reduced degree of compassion, materialistically oriented people are more likely to compromise with things that actually bring joy and happiness – for example, walking with friends or family or contributing to society – for money, power and glory. “

So, the next time you make a difficult choice between more time or more money, think of your happiness, not just your wallet. Choose what makes you happier as long as you can afford it.

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Thanks to the Happiness Academy (www.happinessacademy.eu) for this wonderful article on the value of time over money for our happiness levels and for our coorperation to raise happiness levels and help people to live a life of fullfillment and joy.
Happiness Academy’s mission is to teach what was not taught in a traditional classroom – how to live a life of happiness and fulfillment. They believe that happiness is not just a perfect image you have in your head or a future destination. It is a deep sense of satisfaction and well-being that you are able to train and cultivate. They commit to inspire, guide and empower people to learn Happiness.
May 2020 be the year of more Happiness for all!

Diversionary Tactics

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“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

One of my favorite quotes.
Sometimes we think that if it did not work in first place, we just need more of the same (emphasis, arguments …) to make it happen. Our view on the situation remains the same – and is very often ignoring our contribution to it. This way, we kill the possiblity of being able to be the changemakers.

Sometimes we got stuck because we don’t want to look.
Leaving “the old” also means admitting that it did not work – and to accept the (unpleasant) feelings that might be connected with this insight.
In the article “Emotion or Intuition”; I wrote that our emotions and feelings provide us with important hints if we are aware of and in contact with them.
However, the first step is to be willing to get in touch with your feelings.
Sometimes we consciously shy away from this contact because we don’t know how to deal with them or even feel overwhelmed. In a way, this is also a protective mechanism when we are actually swamped by a situation.
However, if this protective mechanism becomes the new normal, it can lead to unspecific troubles (pain, demotivation, bad mood without having a subjective a reason) – because feelings do not go away, they just go elsewhere. And it also can lead to getting stuck – things are repeating and we do not progress at all. Then we often start to direct our frustration inwards or to give it air – usually with inappropriate intensity.

If this is the case, it’s time to take a look and check whether you are applying avoidance or diversionary tactics. Progress will only become possible once you start to perceive, label and accept what is going on inside yourself.
Acceptance is the beginning of change.

If the following two strategies, which we commonly apply to avoid dealing with our feelings, sound familiar to you, you might want to rethink – and re-feel – some situations in the future:

Distraction:

Intellectualizing: As soon as a conversation with your counterpart becomes unpleasant, you switch to analyzing and teaching why the other behaves the way he behaves. This intellectualization = objectification creates emotional distance and it’s as well an elegant way to change the (unpleasant) topic (from the original topic to the behavior and conversation analysis.)

Blaming: You find 1001 reasons what others could and should do differently to change the situation (welcome to the victim role …).

Projection: You begin to impute to and accuse your counterpart of behaviors and emotions that you actually perceive and show yourself. But since you think these behaviors are inadequate, you do not want to admit them to yourself. (What I tell about others always tells much more about me than about the others …)

Media: Instead of dealing with the situation, person or your feelings, you distract yourself with media – television, mobile phone, laptop …

Activities: You hurry from one experience to the next – no break = no time for unpleasant feelings.

Numbing:

Eating & drinking: You suddenly need chocolate or you need alcohol to “switch off”. The sugar causes your insulin level to rise, which in turn leads to an increased release of the happiness hormone dopamine, while alcohol literally numbs you.

Addictions: Everything you do excessively, to an exaggerated degree. This can range from sport to smoking to all kinds of consumption (including consumption and activities). It also includes bad habits like nail-biting.

Why don’t you take a closer look this week to see whether you recognize one of the behaviors mentioned above – and whether it is your strategy to avoid or numb your feelings inside. And if so, start to slowly give these feelings space.

Yours sincerely,

Birgit

Powerful Relationships

Photo: Pixabay

Sympathy is perceived similarity

Among dog owners there is the famous saying: “He/she Looks more and more like his/her dog!” Really, if you have a look around, you may get the feeling that there is a lot of similarities between dogs and their owners – not only in appearance but also in personality.
It might be that the owner had chosen that dog because of the match in manner, because “sympathy is perceived similarity” – and so we sometimes unconsciously choose a dog that already shows parallels to our personality.
However, dogs as well are masters in adapting to their environment and their humans, they know how to “tune in”. This ability enabled them to become human’s loyal companions.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn.

This phenomenon of adaptation cannot only be observed in human-dog relationships. It also appears in every human-human relationship.
And here there are two exciting dynamics. On the one hand, we usually feel attracted by people who are somehow similar to us. Familiarity conveys a feeling of security.
On the other hand, over time, we develop more and more similarities with the five people we spend most of our time with. Thus, our environment is a powerful influencer when it comes to our personal development.
But how often do we look at our environment and our relationships from the perspective of our personal development?
Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with?
And how do you feel after meeting these people? Inspired? Supported? Challenged?
Or rather exhausted, tense, empty?
Have a closer look at the relationships in which the latter applies. What keeps you maintaining them? Could you reduce the time you spend with these people? Or is it perhaps even time to say goodbye to one or the other?
On the other hand, who are the people who build and inspire you?
How could you spend more with them?

Relationships are the greatest power in our life.

The regular exchange with friends and people close to us reduces stress. Socialising is proven to be one of the best coping strategies.
And talking personal development, we can take advantage of the fact that we are influenced and shaped by our environment.
What would you like more of in your life? Which qualities and values would you like to develop further?
What do you admire other people for? And how much time do you spend with people who are already living these qualities?

Most fears are caused by uncertainty and the unknown.

To take subsequent actions, you may need to step out of your comfort zone. On the one hand it is sometimes difficult for us – because we need connections to people – to terminate or reduce relationships that cost us energy to a minimum.
On the other hand, it can feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable to approach people we do not know and who look at things from a different perspective – because the unknown causes insecurity and sometimes even fear.
It is easier to surround oneselfs with the known – and to seek relationships with people who confirm us in what we already are and do. But if we want to develop further, we don’t need encouragement and confirmation for what we already are, but challenge and impulse for what we want to be. So if it feels weird, welcome the uncertainty with open arms – because it is your indicator that you are on the right track.

Take a few minutes today to think about the quality of your relationships – and what you could change to blossom (even more) with them in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Birgit

Emotion or Intuition

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Emotions are the centerpiece of my work – or in other words my passion. As technology and anonymity grow, emotions will play an increasingly important role. In the future, the quality of human encounters will heavily depend on our ability to classify and handle our emotions in a benefical and positive manner.

Feelings and emotions can support social cohesion, they foster empathy and create connections. But if we misinterpret them or use their energy in the wrong way, we might get stuck, stubborn and past-oriented.

Feelings contain important clues. In order to use these hints in a beneficial way, we must be aware of their origin and direct their energy appropriately.

Imagine your feelings would be like people who simply appear in your life in different situations and would like to give you an advice. How much would you trust someone you don’t know and who just “came along”? Who didn’t even introduce him- or herself to you? And of whom you question the purpose of the advice?

Sometimes we do the same with our feelings. They appear, “grab” us and even before we know what is happening, we believe the stories they tell us and jump on that emotional train – which doesn’t always take us to a pleasant destination.

What can you do to make your feelings a supporting energy  and to recognize the clues they bring along?

  • What is your name and what do you want? Greet them and take your time to get to know them. Do you know your feelings? Can you recognize, accept and name them?  Just try to become aware of your feelings in the course of one day. What do you feel? Make sure that you name your feeling in the moment – and not your behaviour! “I also want to state my case” becomes “I feel ignored” or “I want to get out of here” becomes “I am afraid”. You can also try to recognize where the feeling manifests in your body. What happens e.g. in your body when you feel ignored? Recognizing and accepting your feelings is the first step in using them wisely. How diverse is your emotional vocabulary? Do you have the right name for every feeling?
  • Why are you here? Show deeper interst in your feelings. Every feeling has an intention. A very common one is to create or maintain your well-being. This insight will perhaps help you to take a more interested look at feelings that seem to be unpleasant in the first place.
  • Where do you come from?  Stay curious and open. Where does the feeling originate? Can you recognize patterns? Do you see similarities in the siutations that trigger the same feelings? What can you learn about yourself, for example, if you feel anger when being interrupted? You may have learned as a child that it is rude to interrupt others. This can easily lead to the conviction that anyone who interrupts is rude (at least there is a good chance that you will interpret the other person’s behaviour that way). In fact, your feeling only tells something about you, what you think about interrupting. But nothing about why the other person behaved like that. (Did you know that in some cultures interrupting your conversation partner shows you are interested in the topic?)

“The behaviour of another person towards me always tells his or her story, not mine. And the way I react to it, the feeling that this behaviour triggers in me, always telly my story and never his or hers”. Safi Nidiaye

So feelings contain important hints – they tell us about our paradigms, beliefs or learned patterns. This can help us to recognize and slowly dissolve destructive and not conducive patterns of thought and behaviour (be patient and nice to yourself – this usually takes a while ;-)).

And here is the difference to intuition:

While most feelings are caused by our inner reaction to external stimuli (situations, behaviour etc.), i.e. are created and stirred up by our conditioned mind, intuition appears without any recognizable trigger. It is this “I-do-not-know-where-it-comes-from-phenomenon” and it feels like peaceful certainty. It does not stress you up nor does it have an “against-nature”. It calms you down. So if you feel in any way triggered or emotionally activated, it’s not intuition, it’s a feeling.

To be able to use both energies positively, think of your feelings as valuable hints to grow personally and of your intuition, if you are gifted by it, as a valuable indicator.

Happy feeling!

Birgit

RAOK for Happiness

Photo: Pixabay

Psychologists agree: we are hard-wired to kindness and the desire to help.
If you look at what is happening in the world, you may be surprised.
However, if you consider that your view of the world depends massively on what News you expose yourself to, it might give you a different perspective.
Why not taking your our own experiences as a reference – and start shaping the world you want to live in?
When I take a look at my professional and private environment and evaluate the encounters and situations that I am grateful to experience every week on my travels, it feels like friendliness really matters.
And it works best, if you are the one to initiate it.

Try it out with RAOKs. RAOK stands for “Random Acts of Kindness”.

The nice thing about it: doing good for others (without expecting anything) makes yourself happier and more satisfied. This is because generous behavior activates a brain area that is closely linked to our reward center. It also changes our self-image – we perceive ourselves as a person who is capable, competent and able to help others. This view enhances self-esteem and serenity.

Everyone can contribute to more joy in the world with those small gestures of generosity. And since joy is contagious, it is not only the receiving people who benefit from it but also all the others who will meet the happy receipients of kindness.

RAOKs could look like this:

  • Bring some self made cakes or cookies for your colleagues
  • Smile at a stranger on the street – preferably at one who seems to need it
  • Declutter your wardrobe and donate the clothes – preferrably hand them in personally
  • Leave a book your finished reading with the message: “Gift to the finder, have fun reading” on the train.
  • At the bakery buy for yourself and for the person behind you in the the row
  • Write a “thank you” card.
  • Give the postman a cookie or candy
  • Express your gratitude
  • Give honest compliments
  • Buy a ticket for public transport and leave it behind in the vending machine
  • Buy a lottery ticket and put it under the windscreen wipers of an old Looking car.
  • Buy a few bars of good chocolate and put them in the mailboxes of your neighborhood
  • Write a positive review about a restaurant or a bar you liked
  • Donate old sheets and towels to an animal shelter

I am pretty sure you have many more beautiful ideas!
More inspiration can be found under the Hashtag #randomactsofkindness.

By the way, do you already know the initiative “Suspended Coffee”? Meanwhile over 300 cafés in Germany, Austria and Switzerland take part in it (suspendedcoffee.de). You simply buy a coffee or another product, which you don’t use, but donate. The donation is noted as “to pass on” – and given to a person who cannot afford it. All they have to do is go to the shop and ask for the “passed-on item”.
Maybe you would like to encourage your favourite café to take part in this initiative?

How about one RAOK day every week?
A day on which you consciously do something good?

Pass it on!

Sincerely,

Your Birgit

PS: and don’t forget to include yourself in the circle of people to whom you regularly do something good 🙂

Your Inner Driver

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Some days my To Do List seems to be endless – and at the end of these days I have easily achieved a lot and feel good. And then there are those days when I seem to stand in my way. Actually, I don’t have a lot to do, and yet I feel kind of stressed. Which brings up the question: how much of my stress do I actually make myself? What are the origins of my expectations? Are these expectations my colleagues or my boss have explicitly communicated or is it me putting pressure on myself?

In my case the answers to these questions are pretty clear: in most situations I put myself under pressure. With my expectations on my commitment and the quality of my work. I feel driven, from the inside out. My “inner discipliner”, as I love to call him, has taken over completely.
Psychology calls this phenomenon the inner driver. Inner drivers are beliefs we have established in the course of our development – most of them already in childhood. However, we did not learn these beliefs to be drivers, but discovered them as positive qualities that – when shown – made us be loved and recognized. These qualities are characteristics like

  1. Accuracy
  2. Friendliness
  3. Perseverance
  4. Independence
  5. Promptness

If we weight these qualities adequately, they are helpful motivators. However, problems arise when we link them to our self-esteem and thus i.e. feel bad when we are not able to show them. Then these qualities turn to be the so-called inner drivers:

  1. Be perfect! = I must not make any mistakes
  2. Please others! = I am only valuable if everyone likes me.
  3. Try hard! = Only a maximum effort will secure success!
  4. Be strong! = Grit your teeth!
  5. Hurry up! = I must be fast, otherwise I will not finish

If stressed like this, our beliefs work against us and put us under pressure. Funny paradox: when under stress, our ability to fulfill them decreases dramatically. Sometimes it is even the other way round: especially when under stress, we run the risk that a well-intentioned approach (e.g. to do something as quickly as possible) becomes an inner driver.

Imagine, for example, that accuracy is important to you. You have just started in a new job and you are working on a project your boss delegated to you. You can now do everything to the best of your knowledge and belief, ask questions if necessary – and then deliver the best result possible under the given circumstances. Or you are not able to be satisfied. The belief that you have to avoid mistakes is your driver, which is why you ask again and again, improve, consider, think it over. New aspects that have to be taken into consideration continue to pop up in your mind – you want to make a good impression – and finally you don’t get into action at all or only very late.

How can you tell whether a well-intentioned quality becomes an inner driver?

When feeling pressure in a specific situation, check where the pressure comes from. Do you feel driven by an inner voice to fulfill expectations you consider important? Or do you have full control over whether you act upon the quality or not? Are you for example able to say no without feeling bad? Or to not smile friendly – because you don’t feel like it? Or to let go and consider 80% to be perfect enough?

If you feel repeatedly put under pressure by your inner driver, it is time to start an inner dialogue. Remember: you yourself have created this pressure, so only you can dissolve it – e.g. by formulating relief phrases for yourself. These are the opposite perspectives to the inner driver. For “I must be perfect” this can be e.g. “mistakes are chances to learn” or “80% are perfectly fine”. (and my experience has shown that the remaining 20% usually do not make any recognizable difference. Often your 80% are regarded as 100% by others – try it out – and feel the relief.)

So whenever your inner driver stresses you out, stop and start an inner dialogue. This can sound like this:

“Dear Inner Driver, I know that you have good intentions. Many thanks for that! With you at my side I have come a long way. But at the moment you are exaggerating and that stresses me. That is why I would like to tell you that you can lean back now, because … (relief sentence)”.

You can have this dialogue just in your mind. However it turned out to be very effective to write down the relief phrases.

What would you like to allow yourself more in the future to feel relief?

Yours,

Birgit

Dancing Smurfs

Photo: Pixabay

The day before yesterday I walked the dog in the morning. It was raining. So I put on my rain jacket and set off. While walking, I thought: “How nice, finally the plants get water again. What a saturated green allover!” I took a deep breath and enjoyed the moistured air, which seemed to intensify all the scents. I smiled, satisfied.

Yesterday I walked the dog in the morning. It was raining. So I put on my rain jacket and set off. While walking, I thought: “Great, now the time to go jogging in the morning is probably over. I guess I’ll have to go back to the stuffy gym. What a waste of time! And will I manage to get up and do it regularly? And how grey this sky is today! Clouds all over. Well, it fits the mood.”
A moment later I had to smile – because the following thought came to my mind: “Well, I guess Grouchy is in charge again today!

Grouchy is a Smurfs that is always in a bad mood and always finds a reason to complain or grumble. Simply grouchy.

I don’t know where it originated, but I liked the idea of the Smurfs. Somehow moods are like this cohort of Smurfs. They all live in their village – simply belong together, each with their own tick. Everyone contributes, but not every contribution is appropriate or helpful in every situation. Nevertheless, accepting them and regarding them with favour and with a smile (like Papa Smurf does) is reconciliatory. On the above mentioned day it also placated my Grouchy. The rest of the day he whined a little in the background, but otherwise held back. I had decided to rather go into dialogue with the wise Papa Schlumpf again :-))

So – be kind to your Smurfs – they are a part of you. Get to know them with all their special effects – from the know-it-all Brainy Smurf to the scared Scaredy to the lazy Sleepy. Invite them, listen to them – and then decide who you want to have at your side to have a good time.

Which is your favourite Smurf?

A smurfy week to you,

Birgit

A break is not a bonus

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Breaks are not a reward for what has been achieved but the basic prerequisite for being able to perform at all.

How often do you say to yourself: “I’ll take a break once I have finished xyz, …” The break should not be the last point on your to-do list, but should be scheduled regularly, so your body and mind can regenerate and you remain fit. The “if then attitude” is like driving to Spain, running out of gas in the middle of France and saying: “Once I’ve arrived in Spain, I’ll refuel”.

Breaks are like pit-stops.

Breaks are like pit-stops – they refuel you. Without pauses, our brain is also not able to process recorded information. This does not happen during recording, but during a rest. In addition, when pausing, we do not lose but gain time. Those who regularly skip breaks do less and less in the same time and run the risk of making more mistakes – which then have to be corrected – time that could be saved.

Time for a break?

In everyday life you should take a short break every 60-120 minutes. A few minutes are enough! If you pay attention to your body signals, it’s quite clear when it is time for a break:

  • You feel like eating a snack (usually something sweet).
  • You’re starting to yawn.
  • You feel the need to loll and stretch.
  • Your thoughts wander off
  • You’re more easily distracted.

Flow or fanatic?

Sometimes it can happen that we are completely absorbed by a task. As long as we do it with ease and joyful focus, it is very likely that we are in the flow. This state of being pleasantly challenged in a task we love and find meaningful is usually enriching and not exhausting.

If, however, you observe yourself “sticking” more and more to a task, blinking less and less, breathing flatter and adopting a tense and quite static posture, you are not in flow but you are getting your teeth into it. You lose contact with yourself and with time and you are stressed out. If this seems familiar to you, I recommend the “Pomodoro Technique”. This time management method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. It was named after the kitchen stopwatch in tomato form. As with spaghetti cooking, you set your kitchen clock (or alternatively the alarm clock of your mobile phone – which you can then keep in your pocket on vibration alarm) to 30 or 60 minutes. Take a break as soon as it rings – this way you stay al-dente the day ;-))

Variety is king

The regular breaks do not have to last long, 2-5 minutes are enough. Everything that is the opposite to you previous activity contributes to your recovery.

For example, if you working on a desk with a screen …

  • Look through the window of your office and let your thoughts wander. (break for the eyes)
  • Take a few steps – preferably in the fresh air (break for the body)
  • let your thoughts wander (pause for the spirit)
  • Drink a glass of water
  • No need to switch from PC screen to mobile screen

When you work standing up or in the midst of a lot of people:

  • look for a quiet place – best in nature with fresh air, sit upright and close your eyes. Perhaps you even meditate briefly
  • drink a glass of water or make yourself a cup of tea

No matter in which activity, a change of location makes it easier for us to switch off and enjoy the break time (from the desk to the kitchenette, from the sales room to the door, etc.).

So, take a break and stay al-dente!

All the best,

Birgit

Curious beginner’s mind – the raisin exercise

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The raisin exercise originates in mindfulness training. It is also a nice first step to start meditation.
But this exercise is also excellent for training your beginner’s mind and perception. Do you still remember your first raisin? Or the first bite of a fruit you have never eaten before? When we experience something for the first time, our perception is more diverse and intense. Body and mind are adjusted to learning, our senses sharpened, we are full of open curiosity.

Today I would like to invite you to consciously activate this open curiosity – to enrich your perception and focus your mind. This finally enables you to switch off and relax more easily.

In the exercise you will consciously look at something that has become a matter of course in your everyday life and that your mind routinely takes for granted in a new way – which is with the eyes of a beginner.

Today we will use a raisin for the exercise- but it also can be pracitised with other food items (e.g. a fig) or transferred to everyday routine situations, such as opening a door.

Prepare a raisin, make sure you will not be interrupted for about 10 minutes, and then proceed as follows:

  1. Watching – Put the raisin between your fingers or place it in the palm of your hand and look at it from all sides as if it were the first raisin in your life.
    What does it look like when you hold it against the light? What do you notice? What details? What thoughts come up?
  2. Feeling – Touch the raisin and move it with your fingers in the palm of your hand. Place it between your fingers, press it a little, feel it consciously. What do you feel?
  3. Smelling -Place the rasin close to your nose, close your eyes and smell it. Focus on the aroma. What does it remind you of?
  4. Hearing – Place the the raisin close to your ear and move it between your fingers. Press it a little or put it in your closed hand and shake it. What kind of noise does it make?
  5. Taste and Feel – put the raisin on your tongue and concentrate on how it feels before you take the first bite. Move it in your mouth. What do you perceive? What do you taste?
  6. Eat and Taste – take a first bite and be aware of how the texture of the raisin changes and what taste spreads in your mouth. Chew slowly, taste, feel, swallow consciously.
  7. Reflection – What do you perceive now? Would you like another raisin or rather not? How would you describe the experience of eating a raisin like that?

A week full of open curiosity, awareness and enrichment.

Warm regards,

Birgit