There is so much I am grateful for as I approach Thanksgiving. At a workshop this weekend, I asked people to write a thank you note to see how the experience of triggering feelings of gratitude impacted them. There were tears, smiles, laughter, and joy, followed by increased engagement in the workshop. After you read this newsletter, take a moment to pull out a piece of paper or stationery and write a thank you note; observe how you feel. Then, take the next step and deliver it.
I was excited to be invited to be a speaker this week at SPINCON15 in Chicago!
Be Happy - Keeping Your Head and Your Heart Where Your Feet Are
It seems to me that "busy" has become the standard response to the question of "how are you?" And, many of us are.
According to a new Pew Research Center study, four in ten full time working mothers always feel rushed. I can see my friends who are parents rolling their eyes, "ya think?"
For many of us, busy often means that we want to be in multiple places at one time. When we are home, we are distracted by emails coming in from work and when we are at work we are worried about a sick child, an aging parent, or the long list of errands still to be done. This is often amplified by being overtired from a poor or insufficient nightâ€™s sleep.
I have been pondering whether alignment of our heads, hearts, and feet could help with the epidemic of busyness. When we have our heads, hearts and feet aligned:
We sleep. Our bed is the place for sleep (and sex) and nothing else. Recognizing the need for 7-8 hours of sleep a night and taking steps to achieve that need actually reduces our busyness as we can be more effective in our waking hours. This increases our alignment, as we are not distracted by exhaustion.
We pay attention when we respond to others via email, phone, text or in person. I have not found a good study that looks at lost time and dollars due to inattentive communications, but I have no doubt it is huge. A quick, thoughtless aside in a conversation, an email that inadvertently excludes the word "not", or a phone conversation with a distracted driver can be immensely expensive and emotionally painful. Being present in a conversation is not only more authentic, but is a significant reduction in the "busy" burden.
We are clear on our priorities. To align our feet, head and heart, we often first have to ensure that our feet are in the right place for us for now. So often distraction, multi-tasking, and lack of focus occur when our feet are not where we want them to be. Try this Circle of Life exercise to see if the various aspects of your life are where you want them to be.
There was a great line in the book "Cheaper by the Dozen." You might recall that the father was obsessed with creating time saving devices and was often asked what the point of saving all of that time was. His response was "for whatever you want." Be mindful of how you use your time, we all have exactly 24 hours in a day (give or take). By aligning our heads, our hearts, and our feet, we can make that most of that time. Choose wisely, because one day we do, in fact, run out.
An article in the Huffington Post entitled, "Science by the Chemical Industry, for the Chemical Industry Must Stop" got me thinking about how hard it is to know when to trust scientific studies. In this article, the author talks about fabricated data about hypoallergenic baby formula; EPA making decisions on Roundup based on research provided by Monsanto - the manufacturer of Roundup; and studies about BPA based on industry-friendly computer modeling.
It is challenging to know whom to trust and how to be best informed. For myself, I plan to take chemistry and biology at our local community college this spring. I need to be able to read these studies and understand enough to know if I find the research to be compelling. Here are some suggestions on how to make informed choices about how to spend our money, live our lives, and nourish our bodies.
Find sources that you trust. For the most part, I consider the Environmental Working Group to be extremely reliable and their apps that help me to evaluate personal care products, cleaning products, and foods are beneficial.
Look at what other countries are doing. A number of countries have banned GMOs. The European Union bans more than 1,300 chemicals in personal care products; the U.S. barely bans 10. There are also a number of food ingredients banned in Europe that are allowed in the U.S. In fact, many companies reconstitute products for U.S. distribution -- adding in food dye or other chemical additives. Two quick tips: minimize processed foods and avoid products with fragrance listed as one of the ingredients.
Make choices that work for you and your family. I believe in moderation. Consider the evidence, make the healthiest choices that work for you, and then move on. Having too much stress about all of this is not a good solution as stress is a significant toxin. Many of the choices like having plants in your house, minimizing indoor air pollution, not breathing toxic fumes when you can avoid it, and avoiding artificial fragrances can be very easy and even pleasant to implement.
Be an informed consumer. Learn a lot, read a lot, talk to people, and try to verify information and its source. The Huffington Post article indicates that scientific studies cannot always be accepted at face value, leading to a need to look widely and to examine who authored a study or the website where it is located.
Be Flexible. It may well be that what we believe to be the best answer today turns out to be wrong tomorrow, requiring a change in our behavior. While Charles Darwin did not actually say: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change," his research and writings certainly indicated the importance of being adaptable and able to change as a survival mechanism.
Take a few steps today towards a less toxic more informed life and as that starts to work for you, take a few more.
As the president of Break Through Academy, I work with individuals and groups to help them achieve their life goals through making choices to eat well, avoid toxins and be happy. As a strategic planning consultant, I work with organizations to improve performance through incorporating health and wellness into the fabric of their culture.