Keep It Real with the Medicine Wheel

I went to an amazing education day earlier this week. It was about bringing “Culture in the Clinic”, particularly first nations culture from the aboriginals that first inhabited these lands. I live in British Columbia, in the Snunymuxw territory. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world to live I am certain.

Unfortunately much of the First Nations culture – with it’s strong connection to plants, animals, spirit, ceremony and community, was brutally devastated by colonization of Europeans and the creation of residential schools. These “schools” opened in the 1870’s by the new settling Europeans and families were forced to say goodbye to their kids usually at about the age of 5. At the schools, children were abused in every way. Many died and many are still unaccounted for.

When children arrived at the schools they were young and alone.  They were not allowed to contact family and they certainly were not allowed to practice any of their cultural ceremonies, or speak their own language. And their hair, which was traditionally kept long, was cut short. Could you imagine living through this? How might this affect your sense of self? How would it affect your mental health? Your physical health? Your spirit?

Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, apologized for this publicly in 2008, but in 2009 stated “we have no history of colonialism”. This ignorant statement basically erased his apology in the eyes of many.

It may seem as though all of this happened a long time ago, however the culture still suffers, with 50% of the children still in alternative care, whether it be foster homes or adopted families. First Nations people are now all of higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, addiction, poverty and many other health concerns.

This remains a current issue that needs to be recognized as a problem and needs compassionate attention.

One way to give compassionate attention is to learn about the culture. And what an amazing culture it is. Something that stood out for me in the learning of the day was the Medicine Wheel as a personal tool.

This is a tool that can be used, regardless of your history or your culture. Firstly, you must see your body as your house. Like any house, the foundation is key to keep it standing. Typically in First Nations culture they have ceremonies in a wooden, rectangle shaped long house. This house has four posts as part of the foundation, just as the wheel has four foundational sections.

holistic-medicine-wheel

Take a look at the wheel. It’s four pillars, or quadrants are Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual. In our culture, we are really great at the mental component – we put a lot of value on academic education and individuality. We are beginning to get better at the physical component, maybe, with more programs to build community and more awareness of healthy nutritional choices. We have much work to do to get our emotional and spiritual posts in order to find balance. (The First Nations culture could help us with these pieces…)

But now lets look at the medicine wheel as an individual, because really, we are all individuals first. We all can control only ourselves, and even that is harder than we would like most times.

The better we care for ourselves, the better our families, our communities and our towns/cities, and world will be. But it all starts with us as an individuals first.

For any of us to function at our highest capacity, all four of these sections need to be in balance. For example, A student who spends all his waking moments studying will be unbalanced and will be less productive than the person who is studying but also getting a full nights sleep, connecting with a higher power, and spending time feeding healthy relationships.

TASK:

I challenge you now to take a blank sheet of paper. Draw a big circle on it. Now draw two long lines on the circle, splitting it in 4. Now label each quadrant, one MENTAL, PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL, EMOTIONAL.

Write down one thing in each quadrant. It can be something you are already doing and want to continue to do, or it can be a goal. Don’t chose something you are already doing as a regular habit, but rather chose something that you are working to continue. Put your wheel somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis. Maybe a good place for it would be on the fridge or on your bedroom door.

Some basic examples;

MENTAL– Learn three new phrases in Spanish

PHYSICAL– Exercise for 30 minutes 3x this week

EMOTIONAL– Notice my self talk and how it affects my mood this week, spend five minutes at night recording my findings in a journal.

SPIRITUAL– Take time to walk slowly through the forest 3x this week

Now make your own. Look at it every day and begin to build your four pillars of a healthy home that is your body.

Enjoy :)

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become”
–Carl Jung

 

 

How to Boost Your Mood in 10 Seconds

Wanna know how to boost your mood in 10 seconds? Good, because I want to tell you. Let me give you the situation first.

You are at work, it’s crazy busy and you feel like you are drowning. You are somehow expected to be doing 10 things at once. You don’t feel you even one moment to stop and collect your thoughts.

Sound familiar?

I feel this way working on psychiatric unit sometimes and when I get overwhelmed with so many things to do I can end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off – and not getting anywhere fast.

Trick to Try:

“Shake it off”. We’ve all used the saying before, but have you tried it? Stop. Shrug your shoulders up and down five times and wiggle your whole body, like a dog shaking when it’s wet. You can do this in the bathroom if you don’t want the curious looks from your co-workers.

Why do such a silly thing?

Because, just like dogs, we can shake things off. Have you ever noticed that after you get your dog in trouble he will give a shake? Dogs literally shake things off, and we can too. I’ve tried it. It truly works! It is a quick re-charge, re-set, re-focusing tool that you can use anywhere, anytime.

If someone sees you doing it, even better. You can share a laugh and you can teach them this quick and effective tool. Any chance to be silly and laugh when you are feeling stressed is a great way to bring your self back down-to-earth so you can focus on the task(s) at hand. So it’s a double win. You not only will feel better, but also you will focus better and you can feel proud of getting your work done efficiently.

Go ahead, give it a try! RIGHT NOW! 

Shrug. Shrug. Shrug.Shrug.Shrug of the shoulders (quickly) and a full body Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle…

Feel better?… I know.
Cool right?

I thank my dog Maya for teaching me things great skill. She is so wise and teaches me so much every day.

The Road Less Traveled

This week, I offer you a book review and summary of “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck.

This book is another old classic, published in 1978. The author, Scott Peck, was a psychiatrist and best selling author in his time. He passed away in 2005; however, the concepts he outlines in this book are still relevant to our lives today.

This book is a great read for anyone interested in self development and spiritual growth; however, may be of particular interest in people who are interested in psychiatry specifically. Peck explores certain childhood experiences, parenting techniques and therapy tools as he has experienced them from his personal perspective and how he has seen experience and tools affect his clients.

Peck points out in the first page of his book that spiritual growth and mental health are one and the same. I couldn’t agree more.

He recognizes that life is a series of problems. Life is difficult. The first section of the book is titled “Problems and Pain” and suggests that discipline is one of the required tools to solve life’s problems. He states “Without discipline we can solve nothing.”

On the flip side, Peck recognizes that problems are what bring forth courage and wisdom. It is problems that help one to grow mentally and spiritually. Thus, if we avoid problems we contribute to our own mental illness.

Peck goes as far to say that “This tendency to avoid problems … is the primary basis of all human mental illness.” And in this of course, everyone is mentally ill to some degree. Our mental health, as I see it, is on a spectrum and where we are on the spectrum changes day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year etc. Whether we are contributing to mental health or to mental illness, I agree with Peck, depends on the ability to see life’s problems as hurdles, and recognizing that problems are opportunities for growth. 

The sooner you face your problems, the sooner you can gain the strength they have to offer you and use it to solve the next challenge you face.

Peck talks about the importance of parents as role models but also is sure to mention that “Ultimately love is everything”. The Beatles sing it loud and clear “All You Need is Love”… The message is all around and if we can listen and apply this truth we can transform our lives and experience on this planet. By giving love to people, you give them the feeling that they are valued and therefor treat themselves as if they are valuable. Feeling valuable, Peck states, is “essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline.” He also states it is a direct product of paternal love and is extremely difficult to acquire during adulthood. Being abandoned by one’s parents as a child, Peck states is equivalent to death, as children are dependent on their parents for survival.

Peck states “for children to develop the capacity to delay gratification, it is necessary for them to have [the following]:
1. Self-disciplined role models
2. A sense of self-worth, and
3. A degree of trust in the safety of their existence.”

So, we’ve established that problems are opportunities for growth. Next, we need to come to realize that “anyone who is not mentally defective can solve any problem if willing to take the time”.

Peck gives a great example his own experience, being busy in med school and having issues with the mechanics of his vehicle. Peck believed mechanics were something his brain just didn’t grasp; however, one day his neighbor suggested that the only reason he didn’t know how to fix his vehicle was because he had not taken the time to learn how. Peck realized the simplicity of this statement and soon found it to be absolutely true. Once he started to take the time, following wires and looking at the function of the parts, he was able to soon understand his vehicles mechanics.

It’s true. We live in a world of information. If you want to learn how do something, the only formula you need is:

the desire to acquire information + access to accurate facts +  time to investigate and apply the learned information to the current situation

If you sit and wait for problems to disappear on their own accord I will risk to assume you will not live a mood magnituded life.

Imagine your house was on fire. That is a problem. Do you sit and watch it burn to the ground? Or do you problem solve? Maybe you call the fire department, get the fire extinguisher, gather your loved ones and get out. There often are many ways to approach a problem. If one way isn’t working, try another way instead, or in addition to.

A balanced approach to problem solving-

1. Accept the problem, be grateful for the opportunity to gain courage
2. Go to war with the problem- tackle it from all possible angles

A major part of this process is accepting the responsibility of facing problems. Peck points out that saying “It’s not my problem”… is a problem. If something is getting in the way of your growth and is causing your grief in one way or another, it is your problem. It is your opportunity to grow.

Peck quotes a saying of the sixties (attributed to Eldridge Cleaver),

“If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

So, we’ve established that life is hard, it’s full of problems and problems are opportunities for growth. We are aware that anyone can solve a problem with time and effort. And, if we neglect to solve our problems we are contributing to mental illness rather than personal growth. The next topic to explore is dedication to truth.

Truth, similar to love, is challenging to define in it’s totality. Truth is exceptionally challenging to define because people see different truths and ones truth can change at any time.

What you can do is curious about the truth and open to all of it’s possibilities. Be a truth seeker. And as the truth changes, change with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think Yourself Out of Mental Illness

“This isn’t me, I’m actually a high functioning, smart person!”

This is something I hear people say when they are accessing mental health services. Stating this as if they are smart enough to think themselves out of mental illness.

Typically the person saying this is well-educated and, in our societies terms, an overall high functioning person. Having mental health challenges does not mean you’re not smart. This idea is bogus.  The fact that I hear it so often, shows the stigma- still stuck to like glue mental health challenges and the people who access mental health services. Many highly functional people do have mental health challenges at some point in their lives.

In fact, According to Stats Canada, one in four Canadians experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

17% of Canadians 15 and older perceived that they required mental health services in 2012.

In the US, 2.5% of the population have Bipolar and 1% have Schizophrenia.

All kinds of people access mental health services. No matter how smart you are, you can’t think yourself into mental health. In fact, often the opposite is necessary. Often one needs to stop thinking, slow the thoughts, and calm the mind. Doing this reduces anxiety and gives ease to the mind and body. These two things are the most common symptoms I see people accessing services for, followed by suicidal ideation which trots along shortly behind, if things aren’t dealt with.

In life all kinds of things can and will go wrong. Things will get hard and there will be times when you aren’t taking care of yourself as well as you could be. You might need help along the way from a mental health professional. If and when you do, understand that this is you in this moment. It’s not all that you are, but it’s a part of your experience of the now. This is  a part of your journey. It’s okay, it doesn’t mean that you’re not smart.

Smart people have mental health challenges. Famous people have mental health challenges too and slowly more of them are publicizing this aspect of themselves including the following:

Vincent Van Gogh, John Nash, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leiah), Kurt Cobain, Mel Gibson, Brooke Shields and of course Robin Williams.

In fact, researchers at the University of Toronto and at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital found a protein, called the neuronal calcium censor protein 1,  that is linked to curiosity and spacial memory. This protein is also linked to Bipolar and Schizophrenia.

They found is straight A students are more likely to have either of these disorders, more so for people who excel in humanities than people who excel in sciences. Another study found similar correlations between A grade students in music and language courses and a diagnosis Bipolar.

The correlations found have not been consistent enough to be used for anything further than interesting findings; however, they do provide one an appealling flavor of  food for thought.

 

Your mental health is never stagnant. It’s changing with every moment you live. You don’t know your future and that’s what makes life interesting. If you stumble across mental illness along your journey, it doesn’t mean you are not smart. It doesn’t mean that you are smart either. It simply means that you are a human going through an experience. Embrace it’s teachings.

***

RESOURCES

http://www.medicaldaily.com/why-smarter-people-are-more-likely-be-mentally-ill-270039

How to Win Friends and Influence People

I just finished reading this book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I had to summarize it and share with you the main principles in the book because they are tips that can help every person in all interactions they with people. How we interact with our world affects our moods greatly. If you are able to get your point across clearly, connect, build relationships and be taken seriously, I guarantee you will be in a better mood. Carnegie does an amazing job in this book of clearly outlining the principles and providing many examples for each of them. I summarized and used some of my own examples, along with my favorite examples of his. By summarizing the book, I am hoping to help you apply some of these principles without needing to buy or read the book in its entirety. You’re busy. Let me to do the reading and the writing; it will be up to you to apply the concepts. You’ll be happier for it if you do. Please don’t hesitate to comment on your opinions or experience. I look forward to hearing from you.  Happy reading.

:)

3 FUNDAMENTAL TECHNIQUES IN HANDLING PEOPLE

Principle 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

This principle is about trying to understand another persons point of view, instead of trying to change it. Carnegie quotes Benjamin Franklin who said “I will speak ill of no man, and speak all the good I know of everybody.” Carnegie adds to this point by writing “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving”.

Principle 2 – Give honest and sincere appreciation

I like this principle because I hate giving fake flattery to people just so they think I’m nice and I can sense the minute someone is doing it to me. Flattery is counter productive if there is no soul behind it. Carnegie explains the difference between appreciation and flattery is “One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”

It is easy to flatter someone but to truly show appreciation for someone requires more attention, which is what many of us fail to give. When you truly listen to someone, think of them and observe them, then you can offer true, sincere appreciation and they will feel your sincerity because it was thoughtful and based on specific observations.

Carnegie puts it nicely in quotes “be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise”.

Principle 3 – Arouse in the other person an eager want

In explaining this principle, Carnegie gives examples of letters written by a person looking for a job.

One person writes asking for a job position, expressing his desires, and requesting a timely response. This letter leaves the person receiving it feeling drained and frustrated that a stranger is asking for him to take time out of his already busy day and requesting him to reply to in a timely manner.

The next letter, in contrast, the person explained to the receiver what skills he could offer the company. He focused on what employer wanted and explained specifically how that he could help achieve those goals.

Next, Carnegie outlines

6 WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE YOU

Principle 1 – Become genuinely interested in other people

Carnegie gives many short stories to explain this principle. The one that spoke to me most, of course, involved a young student nurse.

Martin Ginsburg, a renowned taxation expert in the US, told Carnegie this story while attending one of his courses in Long Island, New York. When Ginsburg was a ten-year old boy, he was stuck in the hospital for surgery over Thanks Giving. None of his family was able to come to visit and he “became overwhelmed with the feeling of loneliness, despair, and fear.”He cried underneath his blanket to himself.

A student nurse noticed him crying and offered him comfort. She explained she was lonely too, having to work Thanks Giving. She found an extra tray of turkey dinner and ate with him.  She tried to calm his fears and she stayed with him seven hours after her shift had ended.

Ginsburg reports that her warmth and tenderness somehow made his pain at the time bearable. Not a Thanks Giving goes by that he isn’t reminded of this young nursing student and the kindness she offered him.

And as a side note, in this principle he encourages you to REMEMBER BIRTHDAYS :) Phone and sing the full song if you don’t send a card. If you are really on the ball, do both.

Principle 2 – Smile

This, of course, is one of my favorite principles and one that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Smiling is something that is mandatory if you want to be happy! Smile even if you aren’t happy- it will help you to feel more happy! It’s not a new concept, as this book was originally written in 1936!

Carnegie talks not only the effect of a smile when seeing strangers in public, but also over the phone because people can feel your smile through your words. One of my favorite quotes of the chapter is “it isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It’s what you think about.” Another favorite quote from this chapter is “Your smile is your messenger of your good will” and of course the wise Shakespeare makes an appearance in this chapter as Carnegie quotes his words “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” 

Principle 3 – Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

As you may have guessed. This principle is all about the importance of remembering names. There is no shortage of success stories that come from learning how to do this one simple task well. So throw out your excesses and start trying harder to remember names. If you need to hear it twice, ask someone to repeat it. If it’s a name you have never heard before, ask how to spell it. If you get the chance, write it down so you can look at it, remember it and throw the paper away.

Principle 4 – Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves

This is how to become a good conversationalist. People generally love talking about themselves and rarely can one find someone who is willing to truly listen. Ask questions and pay attention to the answers so you can ask more questions on the topic. Find something about the topic that is genuinely interesting to you. Every conversation is a learning opportunity and people are more than happy to tell you everything they know if you can lend an open ear and keen attitude. Whatever you do, never interrupt.

Carnegie sums this concept up beautifully in the second to last paragraph in this chapter when he writes “So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.”

Principle 5 – Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

Another simple concept – doing your homework. Carnegie suggests, If you are planning to go to someones place for dinner, or having a guest,or going for an interview, do your homework beforehand.

Know a little bit about a few topics your guests are interested in. It’s easy nowadays, all you need to do is a quick google search or scan of his or her Facebook page.

Principle 6 – Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

This is one of the main principles of the book that Carnegie repeats as a main theme throughout the book. He highlights the work of American philosopher and psychologist, John Dewey who has said “that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature.” and fellow psychologist/philosopher William James, agrees that “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Also, a quote Carnegie carries throughout the book, one which struck me right away and I was happy to see repeated,  are the eloquent words business man, Charles Schwab who says we want our friends and associates to be “hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise.”

Moving on to the next section,

HOW TO WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING

Principle 1 – The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it

The bring home point of this section is that you can’t win an argument because if you lose it you lose it and if win it, you lose it. Why? Because you have made someone feel inferior. Carnegie adds a little rhyme to remember

“A man convinced against his will, Is of the same opinion still.”

Highlighted again, is that people want to feel important. As long as your argue with someone she will find her importance by asserting her authority. But when the argument is halted, the ego can expand and she will be able to become again a “sympathetic and kind human being.”

Know that your opinions may need changing and always be open to hear another point of view and reflect on your own.

Principle 2 – Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”

More great quotes from major people in history appear in this chapter. Including the following:

“Be wiser than other people if you can ; but do not tell them so.” — Lord Chesterfield

“One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.” — Socrates

When entering a place where opinions may differ Carnegie encourages to start with the phrase “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.” He writes in this chapter that you will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong.

Listen to what people are trying to say, rather than getting stuck on the words they use. Try to understand where someone else is coming from.

Principle 3 – If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically

If you have made a mistake or broken a rule and find yourself getting in trouble for it, agree with the opposition you are met with.

An example Carnegie uses in this chapter is similar to getting caught with your dog off the leash when it is not allowed. The first time the person lets you go and tells you next time you will get a fine.  You follow the rule a couple times, but a couple weeks later you let your dog off the leash again. Sure enough, you get busted by the same fellow who let you off the first time.

Instead of engaging in an argument about why you should be allowed to have your dog off the leash, apologize and say every reason your dog should be on the leash before he has the chance.

By doing this, he as no reason to argue with you and instead, he may  feel understood and important.  Not only that, it’s nicer for you to condemn yourself than to hear it from someone else.

Own up to your mistakes as fast as you can.

Carnegie sums this chapter up nicely with this great quote “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”

Principle 4 – Begin in a friendly way

 

It’s important to be friendly in your approach with people. Highlighted in this chapter is the truth that you cannot change anyones mind by using force. You can however, lead someone in your direction if you are gentle and friendly, “ever so gentle and friendly”. Carnegie has several examples throughout the chapter, including short fable about the sun and the wind. T

The sun and the wind argued about who was stronger. Wind decided he would prove he was stronger by blowing of a mans coat. So wind blew as hard as he could almost to the point of a tornado, but the harder he blew, the tighter the man held onto his coat. He was unable to get the coat off. Next, it was sun’s turn. Sun came out from behind the could, and smiled kindly at the man. The man soon warmed up and pulled off his coat.

Carnegie also quotes Lincoln several times in this chapter, stating

“A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”

Principle 5 – Get the other person saying g”yes, yes” immediately

When talking to someone, begin talking about the things that you agree upon. Emphasize your commonalities. Get the person saying “yes” and try to avoid getting the person to say “no”. Carnegie explains that our responses create inertia and each time we answer with yes or no, we are like a bowling ball picking up speed in that direction. The same thing happens if you start saying no, resistance is built up in the body and there is more likely more no’s ahead.

Socrates used this method, he would desk questions with his opponent would have to agree and he kept doing so until they said yes a handful of times. After that, he would ask a question that brought his opponent to conclude something they would have disagreed with initially. Kind of a cool trick and I can understand how it could work too.

A highlighted quote that sums up this chapter is the Chinese proverb,  “He who treads softly goes far”

Principle 6 – Let the other person do a great deal of the talking

People like to talk about their experiences and themselves. By asking questions about someones experiences and point of view and actively listening to her responses you can get an understanding of why she sees the world the way she does. Also by listening actively to someone as they speak you will be able to ask the right questions. A key piece to this is never to interrupt, no matter the temptation. A person will not be able to listen to you if you interrupt because they are trying to remember what they were going to say when you interrupted them. By asking questions and allowing others to do more of the talking you make them feel important. Allow your friends to excel you. Don’t brag about your own accomplishments or make yourself seem superior. What’s important is that the other person feels good during and leaving the interaction. And when that happens, you can feel good too!

Principle 7- Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

When someone becomes a part of a process, they become invested in it. If someone regularly doesn’t like your work, perhaps ask them to add to it what they would like to see. If someone participates in the process they are more likely to enjoy the finished product. Ask for specific feedback and make the product fit that persons needs or desires.

Carnegie uses an example of an artist who was trying to sell his sketches. He had a client who would look over his work weekly for three years but never bought anything. One day the artist brought some unfinished sketches to the man and asked him how he could finish them in such a way that the man could use them. The customer gave his advice and when the sketches were completed with his suggestions incorporated, he bought them.

It’s important to ask for feedback and input and involve people in the process when possible.

Principle 8 – Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view

From a spiritual perspective, in which I see the world, we are all part of the same organism, and that’s what this principle is about. Carnegie quotes Dr. Gerald S. Nirenberg in his books “Getting Through to People” when he writes “cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other persons ideas and feelings as important as your own. Starting your conversation by giving the other person the purpose or direction of your conversation, governing what you say by what you would want to hear if you were the listener, and accepting his or her viewpoint will encourage the listener to have an open mind to your ideas.”

Another valuable point is made in this chapter. Sometimes, in key moments one can be “so eager to do the right thing, that he does the wrong thing”. When something fires you up with anger and rage, it means you have passion and strong views around it. When feeling these emotions it is integral that we keep our cool and apply these principles. If you lose your cool, you lose any argument immediately.

Emphasized also is the following paragraph “I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a person’s office for two hours before an interview than step into that office without a perfectly clear e of what I was going to say and what that person-from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives was likely to answer”. Carnegie asks that if you get one thing from reading the book that you get an “increased tendency to think always in terms of the other person’s point of view”.

Principle 9 – Be sympathetic with the other person ideas and desires

Some examples in this chapter are about dealing with conflict. If someone presents you with being upset about something you have done, apologize immediately with sincerity, politeness and kindness. Admit that what you did was wrong and agree with their points, and if possible, even add some of your own.

An example given in this chapter is a student learning piano and her teacher. Student has long, well manicured fingernails that the teacher knows will impede on her ability to play the piano to her greatest potential. Instead of telling the student directly to trim her nails, the teacher instead complimented the student on how nice her nails looked and suggested that if she wanted her piano playing to improve faster, trimming her fingernails would help.” Of course, the student showed up for her next lesson with trimmed nails. Not because she was told to do it, but because she wanted to improve her piano playing.

Principle 10 – Appeal to the nobler motives

Carnegie writes that people usually have to reasons for doing a thing – a real reason and one that sounds good. He advises that in relations with people, to appeal to the nobler motives. Assume that people are sincere, honest, truthful.

An example used in this chapter is a celebrity who doesn’t want a certain picture in the press writes a request, not stating “Please don’t use that photo, I don’t like it,” but rather “Please don’t use that photo, my mother doesn’t like it”. Doing this, appealed to the nobler motive that people have – the respect and love for motherhood.

Principle 11 – Dramatize your ideas

It’s interesting, this book written in 1936, Carnegie writes “This is the day of dramatization.”… I guess that’s  been a truth throughout the times, and certainly continues to be true today. So, instead of doing the same thing everyone else is doing, use actions or lives examples for greater effect. Instead of writing a report and coming in with graphs and statistics, come in with a visual to show what it is you are expressing.

For example, say you want to have more garbage cans on the street because of large amounts of litter. Instead of telling people how much litter there is on the street per block, collect the garbage and bring the bag that you collected on that block. This dramatizes the idea and this, Carnegie states, is what will make all of the difference in how effectively you influence people.

Principle 12 – Throw down a challenge

If you are looking to stimulate people to work a little harder, Carnegie suggests, if nothing else works, throw down a challenge. Doing this stimulates competition in people and increases their interest. People generally have a desire to excel and some friendly competition can be what is necessary to put the into action. When faced with a challenge many people to wish to face the challenge and it encourages them to try their best.

BE A LEADER: HOW TO CHANGE PEOPLE WITHOUT GIVING OFFENCE OR AROUSING RESENTMENT

Principle 1 – Begin with praise and appreciation

You’ll never convince anyone to change a behaviour by berating them for it. So, if you are looking to suggest someone do something differently, first let them know that you appreciate them and what they do. Carnegie has some fun analogies for this in the chapter. He notes that “a barber lathers a man before he shaves him.” He sums the chapter up nicely with a simile “Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is pain-killing.”

Principle 2 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

I like the example Carnegie uses in this chapter – A few employees are smoking inside an area at work where they aren’t supposed to be smoking. The boss sees them and approaches them with a couple cigars. He gives the men the cigars and says “I’ll appreciate it, boys if you will smoke these on the outside” He looks up at the no smoking sign and walks away. The men got the hint. They appreciated the man for being kind and generous; therefore, they were happy to follow his direction and smoke on the outside next time they needed a break.

Another main point in this chapter is the use and “and” verses “but”. An example – Your son comes home with a report card. He got all A’s and B’s except for a C in math. You can say “Good job! I’m proud of you, you must have worked hard, but it looks like you need to work harder on your math.” Or you can say “Good job! I’m proud of you, you must have worked hard! And I bet if you keep working hard you can get that math mark up to meet the rest of them!” Which is more encouraging? Which would you like to hear?

Principle 3 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

We all make mistakes and we are all hard on ourselves when we do it. This points out that before criticizing others we need to look at ourselves and know that we are no closer to being perfect than anyone. If you do have a suggestion to offer someone that would help them improve, start by saying “I did the same thing as you but I found it works better if you do…” Or you could say, “I know, this part is tricky… ” acknowledge that whatever the person is struggling with is challenging and acknowledge your own struggles before commenting on anyone else’s.

Principle 4 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

Instead of telling someone to do something  a certain way, be like Socrates and ask suggestive questions that can lead them to make the decision themselves. Carnegie states “Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have and a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

Principle 5 – Let the other person save face

If someone does something that lets you down, allow them the opportunity to save face and try again. Carnegie gives a few examples, the following being one of them. A woman is hired to do a survey and presentation for a business meeting. It is her first presentation for the company and she made a mistake in her planning. Her mistake meant that she didn’t have the information she needed to do the presentation and she didn’t have time to warn her boss ahead of time. When it came time to present, she admitted that she made a mistake and did not have the information she needed to present. Instead of getting upset with her, her boss thanked her for her honesty. She told her that it was not unusual for an error to be made on a new project, and that she had confidence that her repeat survey would be accurate and meaningful. The new employee left feeling excited to have a second chance to prove herself and motivated to do so.

Principle 6 – Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Give praise often. Give sincere, and specific praise. Carnegie emphasizes that each of us have many powers that we “habitually fail to use”. He recognizes that one of these probably include the “magic ability to praise people and inspire them with a realization of their latent possibilities”. And to sum it up he ends the chapter noting that just as “our abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.”

Principle 7 – Give the person a fine reputation to live up to

If someone thinks highly of you, you want to prove them right to think such good things of you. That is why it’s important to trust people will do their best and hold people in a positive regard.

Carnegie quotes Shakespeare who said “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” He goes on to say “And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want  them to develop.”

Principle 8 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct

Naturally, people have strengths and challenges. The challenges can seem like major burdens at times, however with encouragement they can be small hurdles that, when jumped, allow one to excel beyond expectations. If someone has a challenge, use kind encouragement to make that challenge seem like a small bump in the road that must be past to continue forward. You might say something like “Come on, it won’t be so hard I know you can do it.”

Principle 9 – Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Carnegie gives a fun and playful example in this final chapter. A woman working at a grocery store had a habit of failing to label products with their proper price. This was beginning to cause confusion and customer complaints. So what did the manager do? He called her into his office to speak with her. He needed her help. He appointed her “Supervisor of Price Tag Posting” for the store. Now that she had that title and felt important, she paid attention to the very thing she was initially blind to notice. And the best part, she was happy to do it.

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And that’s it! Now pick a principle and start using it today! Please feel free to share your experience or your thoughts by commenting!

Here is a link to purchase the book from amazon:

http://www.amazon.ca/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0671027034

 

New Year, New Beginnings

Happy New Year!

The New Year is about making positive change. We have new beginnings all the time. Every Monday is a new beginning, every birthday, every new month, every new moon…

But the new year, I suppose because it comes less often than those mentioned above, we seem to have some big expectations for ourselves.

One day you woke up and decided that you were going to learn how to walk. You didn’t get it the first time or the second time you tried. You fell many times. But, you always got back up.

And now look at you, you’re walking, talking, chewing gum, thinking about all the things that you need to do next, and carrying five bags of groceries all at the same time!

When looking to form new habits, be ready to slip and get back up.

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

1. PLAN – As always, you need a plan. Put it on paper and put it somewhere you will see it regularly. Instead of labelling it your goals, label it something like “Things I’m doing this Year/month/week/today” This frames your goals as things you are doing, and not things you hope to do.

2) BE REAL – Your plan needs to be  realistic. Don’t expect to become a new person overnight. Accept yourself and make small manageable changes so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

3) START SMALL – Even if you want big changes, start with small ones so you can build a stable foundation of habits.

4) BREAK YOUR NEW HABIT – There will be times where you have taken on too much or something in life happens. Be ready for this. If you fall off the wagon, it’s okay, just jump back on. Don’t beat yourself up, instead pick yourself up and continue.

5) PLAY X’s and O’s – Jerry Seinfeld has a theory called the chain theory. You get a calendar and put an X on the day every day you complete your new habit/goal. This means if you can’t do it one day then you “break the chain”. This is a great method for some, but I’ve added an extension. If you break the chain, circle that day. Write in the circle what happened and what you change so you don’t break the chain next month.

6) STICK WITH POSITIVE STATEMENTS – Instead of making your goal “spend less money”, make it “save more money”. You will be more effective if you can keep your goals and your thoughts (and ideally your bank account) in the positive.

7) PRIORITIZE – You know what I mean. Most important things goes on top (kinda like how the most important part of the dessert goes on time, like whipped cream, mmm my favorite). Do your new habit first, preferably in the morning before anything else if possible. Getter done. (Kinda like how when I go out for dinner, I like to order dessert first to make sure I have room for it. I can always take my leftover dinner home).

8) MAKE ‘EM MEASURABLE – You need to check if have you completed your goal. So instead of making the goal to “smile more” chose something that is more specific and measurable like “smile to three strangers per day every day this month”. Have a date that you are going to have this done by and a box that you get to check off when you’ve completed it.

9) CHOOSE GOALS THAT EXCITE YOU – If you hate going to the gym, don’t make your goal to go to the gym 3 times a week, you probably won’t do it. Find things that you like to do, maybe you like swimming or running or gymnastics… Why would you make a goal to spend your time doing something you don’t like to do? That goes against everything moodmagnitude promotes.

10) FOCUS ON THE BIGGER PICTURE – Maybe your little manageable goal is to eat a salad for dinner three times a week. When you are eating your salad for the third time this week and dreaming about a pepperoni pizza, think to the big picture. Think about why you made this your plan in the first place, maybe it’s about being healthy and having more energy. Remember that accomplishing your goal will taste way better than any piece of pizza and the feeling will be better than the feeling that will left in your gut after overindulging in a greasy pizza.

Hope some of these tips help!

If you are looking for any further resources, tips or have any further comments please don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

My 2015 starts this monday when I move back to my little cabin on Lasqueti Island. I am so excited to get back to my own little home! Once I am there I plan to get my internet hooked up so I can continue blogging, a little more seriously.

Go to Vipassana in February

I will continue doing yoga regularly, on a daily basis. I will start teaching yoga on Lasqueti and continue to volunteer teaching on the psyc unit in Nanaimo on Sundays through to the end of March and then re-assess.

I’m focused on connecting with people, growing a garden and moving forward with my self and career development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Ways to get Happy for the Holidays

The holidays supposed to be merry, so here are some tips to help you endure, and maybe even enjoy these special times.

1) Keep up your routine – Instead of saying “oh it’s the holidays…I’ll get back to it after Christmas” try to keep on track throughout Christmas and you won’t have to spend the first two weeks of a new year just catching up to things you let go over Christmas break. You will be ahead of the game and start the new year off happier for it.

2) Practice gratitude – Isn’t that really what the holidays are all about? Being grateful for what we have? So even if it isn’t much, be grateful for what you have in your life. If you are living in abundance, be grateful and share with those who may have less. This is the time for giving, any receiving is simply a side effect of all the giving going on.

3) Have a plan – Of course things over the holidays are not expected to always go as planned, but it’s still good to have an outline. In your plan include the things that you are doing for sure. Know the things you need to do and say no to things that are unnecessary. The holidays are for relaxing, not for stressing about the things your supposed to be doing.

4) Be self-aware – How are you feeling about the holidays? How are you taking care of yourself? How are you treating others? The better you care for yourself over these last few weeks of the year, the better you can extend kindness and patience to your family, loved ones, and strangers. Be as kind as possible to yourself and extend that kindness to those around you.

5) Move your body – Do some dancing, yoga, active gaming, a sporting tournament, whatever it is get moving over the holidays. Studies show that starting to exercise regularly is equally effective as an anti-depressant for some people. If the holidays have you blue, get moving and watch your colour shine through.

6) Avoid the urge to over-indulge – Maybe a plan to stick to your routine includes your diet. There are many temptations to over-indulge over the holidays. Sometimes it’s okay to give in and this might be one of those times for you. Maybe pick one day over the holidays where you can eat as much as you want/can. We all know that being so full it hurts isn’t actually an enjoyable sensation. Have a treat here or there and find moderation. If moderation is not a word in your world, then abstinence is your ticket.

7) Smile and laugh your way through it – Our minds and bodies are one. If you smile and laugh, messages are sent to your brain that stimulate the release of endorphins. So, when your dad starts with his lame puns and stupid jokes, smile and laugh not only will it make him feel witty, but you will receive the health benefits and your mood will be magnituded 😉

Good luck!

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga! 

What the heck is that?!

It’s awesome! And it has nothing to do with yoga poses, although it does join the breathing or pranayama practice of yoga.

Laughing yoga was started by a doctor by the name of Madan Kataria in India. He started in a park with some friends telling jokes to receive the health benefits of laughter. Once they ran out of jokes they decided to skip the jokes and go straight to the laughing and the results astounded them!

By fake laughing with people you eventually end up real laughing that is contagious and leaves one feeling fantastic after the session.

Laugher yoga has started up all over the world in over 62 countries and there are now over 6000 laughing clubs that get together for the primary purpose to laugh!

There are other aspects of laughing yoga too such as clapping,  playfulness, eye contact, and breathing exercises.

Why would one do such a ridiculous seeming thing?

… to feel happy of course!

It turns out that there are many great health benefits of laughter such as

  • Laughing lowers blood pressure. People who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will cut their risk of strokes and heart attacks. …
  • Reduces stress hormone levels. …
  • Fun ab workout. …
  • Improves cardiac health. …
  • Boosts T cells. …
  • Triggers the release of endorphins. …
  • Produces a general sense of well-being.

All you need to do is laugh! And just like anything that you practice, it gets easier to laugh the more you do it. Have you ever tried laughing when something is bothering you? Laugher immediately lightens our mood and helps give feelings of contentment. So go ahead, laugh it up or laugh it off, whatever you do and for whatever reason or none at all – laugh.

Check it out and see if there is a laughter club near you!

I recently became a Certified Laughing Yoga Teacher, so if you are looking for some help starting a Laughing Club near you, let me know!

 

Self Love / Joy Meditation

I just completed this for my yoga homework and figured I would share it for anyone who may stumble across it and possibly enjoy it. :)

Find yourself in a comfortable position, close your eyes if that is a desirable option for you. Begin to notice your breath. Don’t try to change it, but instead just observe it’s qualities. Where is your breath reaching right now? Are you breathing into your chest? Your ribs? Into your belly? How fast or how slow are you breathing? How long is your inhale? How smooth is your exhale? Is there space in-between? Are you breathing through you mouth or through your nose? Are you congested, are your sinuses clear? Just notice. Just breathe. 
Now take notice of your thoughts. Where are your thoughts? Are they stuck somewhere in the past, or are they worrying about something in the future? You have survived everything in the past thus far, which means that in everything is going to be okay in the future. So you may as well relax, and be here, now. Trust yourself. Make this moment your everything.
Breathe. 
Take a moment to notice how you feel. 
Are you holding on to any tension?  If so, where is it? Notice it, send it love, and allow it to release. And then allow it to release again. Scan your body as you release and relax and allow yourself to sink into your mat. You are safe and supported here. You are safe. You are supported.
Take a moment, now, to smile. You’re smiling for no reason at all. Know that you can do this at any time in your day and in fact, the more you manage to do this, the more reason you will have to continue.
Actually there is something to smile about. You are loved and you are love, so take a second here to love yourself… Like really love yourself. Love yourself right now like you love whatever it is in your life that you love the most… Maybe it’s your child or your children, your partner, maybe its another family member, a pet, a friend, a plant, a place. Whatever it is, give yourself the love you give it, and store this love for yourself in your heart to access absolutely whenever you need. Breathe it, feel it, soak it into your every vein and artery.
Possibly your thoughts have calmed. If thoughts continue to arise, watch them with kindness as they transform and conform into the shape of a dandelion going to seed, and then watch the wind of your breath blow its particles into flight. You may notice some of them return and that’s okay, just watch them with admiration as they float on by. 
By calming your mind and taking a break from your thoughts, you are allowing magic to flow in. You are absorbing the wiseness of the earth. Feel as you fill with magic and feel as you fill yourself with all of the qualities you already have, that you tell yourself you lack. You know, what makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful. So, take all of your imagined short comings and use your imagination to make another ball of dandelion seeds. Take a look at this ball and cherish it’s beauty. Can you love every piece of it? Again, allow your breath to blow it’s particles into flight. Watch them fly. Fly. F.L.Y. First Love Yourself.
Steve Ross, author of Happy Yoga says, “If you can’t approve of yourself, then all is lost. The whole world can be on your side, but it you’re not on your side, then what’s the point”.. And he has a point.
Today our yoga class is about producing self love, and joy. So allow yourself, again, to smile. Allow yourself to laugh. Allow yourself to have fun. Do whatever it is in this next hour that makes you feel the most magnificent. If you need an hour of Savasana, please by all means, take it. Spend this time asking yourself, what would give me the greatest amount of joy? And listen to whatever directions come to you. 
If are looking to plant any further seeds of intention, or sankulpas for this class other than producing joy and self love, now is the time to plant that seed. Your body is the garden of your own design. And you get to harvest the fruits of your labour. 
Please take about three more deep, cozy, cleansing breaths here before rolling to your left side. 
(When your ready press your top hand into the floor to push yourself up and find yourself in a seated position….)

Space to Respond

In any situation, there are many different ways to respond. Most often we chose the quickest route, which is reacting without thinking, following old brain pathways and emotional patterns.

If you want things to stay as they are, then keep doing exactly what you’re doing. If you want things to get better, if you want to live a happier life, then you need to change some things.

The one thing in life that is the easiest and most accessible to change is yourself. You can’t change anyone else but you can change yourself. Making changes to how you respond to situations can begin to change what situations arise. The first step is to begin to understand why you react or respond to situations the way you do.

By finding a way to create space between stimuli and how you respond to it, you begin to understand yourself and your environment more clearly. It’s a powerful tool and is falls under many categories. It is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness, becoming your own observer… Whatever you want to call it, this practice gives you space to see yourself as an outsider and give yourself the chance to respond with reason instead of reacting without self-awareness or understanding.

Following is a link to a record sheet to use to understand your response in any situation. This tool helps not only to understand your response to something, but also to begin to understand where it is coming from and why. The more you can understand why you are responding to something the way you are the more freedom you have to respond in a way that is most effective.

ThoughtRecordSheet

REFERENCES

http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/ThoughtRecordSheet.pdf