Ted Talk Friday: Best-Self Activation

What a wonderful talk; this came out only a few days ago and it might be one the best talks I’ve seen in a while. Dan Cable, a new name to me, wove together a beautiful, complex, and persuasive story of what it means to “activate our best selves” and how we can do it more often.

I’ve completed the peer surveys for friends in the past and see it as such a valuable tool. Cable also mentioned a test to determine your values and positive character strengths–I highly recommend taking it. The survey is called the VIA and can be found here.

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When do you feel like your best self is activated?

A Day on Resilience at the Greater Good Science Center

I have heard about the Greater Good Science Center for quite some time now and I’ve been curious to check them out. I finally started looking at the schedule over the holiday season and wanted to go to all the seminars–so many amazing topics and amazing leaders! Kristin Neff taught a seminar on self-compassion in February, which I sadly couldn’t attend, but I was able to make it to “The Science and Practice of Resilience” by Rick Hanson. img_9992-1I left my apartment at the crack of dawn and caught the BART from my apartment to Berkeley; luckily it was a short hour long train ride where I people watched, read, and caught up on work emails.

I caught an Uber from the BART station to the event and serendipitously ended up sharing the ride with a few other attendees. One is a student at Georgia Tech (I went to Emory–coincidence!), whose name was Jalen, and he excitedly told me about his startup, which is an app from focused on emotional awareness and self-compassion. Jalen was such a kind person and I can’t wait to see how his startup, Mind Hack, grows. His companion is a coach at Heroic Voice Academy, which is an incredible company helping individuals develop their own brave, authentic voice whether they are giving a TED talk or interviewing for a new job.

The workshop was incredible; the day was broken down into sections of lecture, activity, and practice. We learned about the neurobiology of resilience, but also why that neurobiology matters so much in the clinical, real world setting.

One of my favorite exercises came near the beginning of the day when we discussed what we see as our own personal inner strengths that we draw on as our mental resources in difficult times. We paired up randomly, and my partner was a thoughtful, open psychiatrist grappling with his recent divorce. He shared his own strengths and my turn rolled around a few minutes later. At first I was drawing only blanks, but I suddenly tapped into this beautiful place of self-empowerment and reflection. Speaking my strengths out loud made me feel powerful, strong, worthy. As Dr. Hanson mentioned frequently during the day, humans naturally focus on the negative; we have an inherent negativity bias that we have to correct for. By focusing on my strengths, rather than the daily frustration I tend to perseverate over, I wasn’t just seeing the world, or myself through rose colored glasses, I was correcting for my own bias. This was definitely a light bulb moment for me.

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Beyond the course, I had the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful, kind people. I spent about an hour getting to know a woman with such a fascinating background who is now a therapist and shaman. She was so open in sharing her story and had such helpful insight into my own future goals.

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I feel so lucky to have gone to such a fascinating, educational event. It is such a privilege to be able to hit the pause button of life every once in a while and attend an event like this. I met so many like-minded people, learned more about the neurobiology of resilience, and developed tools to cultivate resilience.

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Have you heard of the Greater Good Science Center? What do you think are your inner strengths?

Ted Talk Friday: Are emotions contagious in the workplace?

I saw this talk in person in the Spring of 2016 and fell in love with Brandon Smith‘s work as the “Workplace Therapist.” I found his ideas fascinating before working in an office, but now that I work a regular 9 to 5 job I see his theory in action. I am lucky to work in an office that has contagious emotions, but contagious emotions of almost exclusively the good, productive kind. It is common knowledge that the mood and outlook your friends have rubs off on you, but the same goes for your coworkers. Choose wisely!

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Have you experienced contagious emotions in the workplace? How do you handle negative people?

How you view intention + how it shapes your interactions

I believe we construct so many detrimental stories about others and how they treat us. We assume they are trying to leave us out, trying to make us feel bad, or trying to ignore us. But what if we change that and instead assume they are oblivious, self-focused, or are struggling with their own issues? While this does not change the actions of others, it can help us feel better about the intention, about the why we so often struggle with.

When we frame others as humans who only want belonging and happiness, the negative assumptions we make often melt away. I don’t want to seem naive; sure, there are always those malicious people who are actively trying to hurt us, but they are far less common than we think. I know I would rather feel naive than bitter.

This way of thinking is self-protective and inherently positive; leaving the space for us to give others the benefit of the doubt where we often fill in the blanks with malintent.

I think of all the times someone made an off-hand comment or forgot to thank me when I assumed it must have been a purposeful, spiteful choice. In my experience, spite is the exception, not the rule. While it is not easy to cultivate a positive outlook on others, it can be easy to begin questioning assumptions–and even asking the person directly in some instances.

What if that guy who cut you off in the parking lot just lost his job or is worried about his ailing mother? Would you feel differently about how he stole your spot? Maybe you wouldn’t cuss him out or send over a death glare. Maybe you would instead feel compassion for him and his situation. I know feeling compassion always leaves me feeling happier and healthier than an expression of rage or frustration in moments like these.

Ted Talk Friday: Cracking the Grace Code

I used to associate the word “grace” with a specific religion, but in the past few years I have realized that this is not aways true. Grace is about gratitude, spirituality, and feelings of connection and wholeness, in my opinion, and none of these have to be religious in nature. Living with grace is about gratitude and self-compassion; Anne Barry Jolles’ does an amazing job of explaining how to use grace as a tool and way of being in the world. I hope you enjoy her talk.

 

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What do you think when you hear “grace”?

Ted Talk Friday: The #1 Public Health Issue Doctors Aren’t Talking About

I am on a Lissa Rankin kick! She has such a fresh perspective on wellbeing, and her engaging speaking style makes her so relatable. She does the perfect job of mixing scientific studies, anecdotes, and her own opinion to create a cohesive story. I have recently moved from a community-centered college and my home, where I am surrounded by family, to a totally new city on the West coast. I am consciously working to combat loneliness; I am prioritizing social events and opportunities not just for fun, but also for my health.

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Do you agree? Do you live in a community?

Ted Talk Friday: How Airbnb designs for trust

The idea of Airbnb sounds  horrifying at face value; you’re letting random strangers come into the most personal intimate space you have–your home. Yes, the strangers are paying to stay there, but it still sounds bizarre and generally surprising that so many of us take this leap of faith. Joe Gebbia does a great job explaining how the platform builds this trust:

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I’ve stayed at Airbnbs and have always had a great experience. Have you tried Airbnb?

Ted Talk Friday: The secret to creating the beloved community

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Doug Shipman give two keynote addresses and was enthralled by his engaging style. He is an alum of my own college and he speaks to values like community and social justice; this talk address the importance of building community physically, not just through social media or the façade of community. It saddens me to think that we might slowly be losing this sense of connection. I deeply appreciate this talk, especially the advice to lessen the fear associated with cultural differences; sometimes we will offend people, but it is worth it when we are pursuing open, deep connections. As an introvert, I can relate to why this might feel easier, but Shipman explains the problems that can, and will, arise as a result.

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Do you think we (as a society) have a problem with community?

Mindful Monday: A First

I’ve decided to introduce a new staple to my blog–Mindful Monday! This series will be focused on living mindfully and what that means day to day. Mindfulness is a huge buzzword, but what does it really mean? There are dozens of definitions out there…

According to google,

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Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center describes mindfulness as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” The site goes on to mention the importance of acceptance of self, thoughts, and feelings.

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Merriam-Webster defines it as ” 1. the quality or state of being mindful 2. the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also:  such a state of awareness.”

I think mindfulness can be achieved in almost any moment, yet it is still so challenging. I find it particularly challenging in that I have a mind that does not turn off, which is something I think many of us can relate to! I am always thinking about things on my to-do list, worries, or things in the future–which is certainly far from mindfulness. While I have not started a mindfulness meditation practice, I am working to incorporate mindfulness more naturally into my life.

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I take a shower mindfully, I try to practice mindfulness in bad traffic, I cook a meal mindfully. All of these moments, however small, punctuate my day and add a moment of calm and a sense of being even just slightly more centered. I think the key lies in taking baby steps. Adding a twenty minute mindfulness meditation every morning to start is just a little too ambitious for me and where I am in my life right now, but these little moments count. For me, it is more about sustainability and quality rather than going all out–and I am okay with that.

In an effort to share my practice, and hold myself accountable, I am going to begin a weekly series focusing on mindfulness and reflections of my mindfulness practice.

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Do you practice mindfulness? What does your practice look like?

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Ted Talk Friday: Good Boundaries Free You

I have found that boundaries are one of the most challenging things to maintain in relationships. We are not taught them, and they are often seen as cold, unkind, or distant. I love this talk because it highlights the real benefits of boundaries and how they can improve both your own life, but also your relationships. Boundaries in work, relationships, and with ourselves are crucial and I think Sarri GilmanSarri GilmanSarri Gilman does a great job explaining that.

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How do you practice good boundaries? Where do you find boundaries the most challenging?