Suffering is Optional

sufferingoptional“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

                                       Suffering = Change x Resistance
According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

© 2017 Maureen Weisner

Are Cell Phones the New Cigarettes at the Table?

formal-settingI haven’t smoked a cigarette in years, but I still remember the “companionship” they provided. Quitting was a huge challenge and it took a long time to unravel the behaviors that accompanied the habit. The entire process of digging around in my purse or pockets to unearth a pack and matches followed by extracting one and inhaling that first deep breath took time. It could be dramatic. It took my full focus, if I chose.

Whether waiting for a friend or the bus or your meal, lighting up almost meant that you weren’t alone…you had an instant companion. Wouldn’t  leave home without them. You could busy your hands with the act and your thoughts could wander or even focus on the progress of your cigarette as it burned down. It afforded instant, albeit unhealthy entertainment and even a conversation starter if someone needed a light. More than anything, I suppose it supplied either an invitation to connect or a smoky barrier to engagement.

Fortunately those days are long gone and smokers are relegated to specific areas that are far from the rest of us. It’s no longer an activity to be copied or glamorized but I wonder if we haven’t taken on a new way to never be alone and simultaneously occupied. Last week I was waiting for a friend at a large bar/restaurant and rather than cigarettes, almost everyone had a cell phone in hand or resting in front of them, ready to be united in action. It’s not part of the place setting! Even people seated together at tables were often on their phones rather than conversing with their companions. I saw one person dining solo with a book and it was so out of the ordinary that he looked like a throwback to another era.

So, what’s really happening? Can we never be still and present in the moment either by ourselves or with other people? Is the cell phone an impediment to communication or is it just another tool that we’ve added to a potentially unhealthy set of behaviors or is that a grim and superficial observation? Actually, the whole scene was a reminder to me to check-in with myself and monitor how to make better use of my alone time. Reaching for the phone as a distraction from being slightly uncomfortable is certainly preferable to grabbing a cigarette, but in those moments, it’s also an opportunity to just be.

©MWeisner2016

Hope is NOT a Strategy for Change

imagesCAGH4OS8What are you hoping to achieve, change, fix, alter or revise in the next year? What makes this “wish” to change have any greater likelihood of follow through now than before?

What prompts change as delineated by the 4 stages that we all enter and exit at different speeds? In pre-contemplation the seed of a possible notion to perhaps shift something occurs. If there is enough interest, we then move to contemplation where the thought takes on added importance. This is followed by preparation for the big step and lastly moving on to the actual change.

Where are the battle lines drawn? Who will win…the old habit or the new behavior? Unless we traverse the process and internalize the stages, the truth is that it’s not happening. Too often it is much easier to skip along, falling back on old behaviors like “wishing, hoping and praying” for divine intervention and the magical solution to reveal itself.

What’s at stake? Improved health and/or appearance, stronger relationships, financial stability or an uncluttered desk may all be goals we set for ourselves. What’s the reward? More time, a new wardrobe, clearer boundaries and a cleaner work area are all tremendous benefits. Most importantly is the personal satisfaction of seeing ourselves as a number one priority; capable of change and deserving of attention, love and care.

What does your call to action look like?

• Select 1 action you will take in the next 24 hours
• Share your plan
• Select an accountability partner when you have completed your action
• Celebrate your success!

What did you learn about yourself from the experience?

©2016 Maureen Weisner

Managing E-mails

imagesCA83X7I0Most of us cringe at the mention of managing e-mail, save for the occasional person who claims to have it completely under control and with a ZERO inbox. To those outliers, I marvel at their organizational skills and raise a glass to toast this accomplishment.

According to Jocelyn Glei, author of Unsubscribe, the rest of us generally fall into two categories; reactors or batchers. The former constantly monitors messages, whole the latter sets aside specific time to power through them. Because reactors will interrupt the work flow to check messages and respond to e-mails, their other work suffers. Glei suggests devoting 2 or 3 daily time blocks to your inbox and otherwise, keep it closed.

On the other hand, batching all communication doesn’t always work if there are individuals who must be responded to immediately. You can set special alerts on g-mail or your iphone for priority contacts enabling you to concentrate on your work and be responsive as you’ve prioritized your contact list.

E-mail can be a powerful and productive tool while also a distraction and an easy way to get lost and caught up in a feeling of making progress. With a goal of maintaining a zero inbox, you may believe that you are closer to an ongoing accomplishment. Should that be your goal or is it really the completion of tasks that lead to the successful conclusion of a meaningful work project?

If you are a reactor, old habits die hard. This is akin to a Pavlovian response
• Turn off audible alerts to incoming messages (except your VIPs)
• Block 3 times daily for checking e-mails
• Note the difference in your level of anxiety when you are not in responsive mode

©MWeisner2016

Strengthen Your Core

Strong-CourageousOver 40% of our behaviors are habits. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Some practices are good, like tooth brushing for healthy oral hygiene and some are even fundamental to our ability to function. But there are those things we do that are far from mindful as we react to the initial cue to engage, knowing the end result will make us feel better in some way, if only for the short term. Habits, good or bad, make us who we are. The key is controlling them. If you know how to modify your habits, then even a small effort can create significant changes. Eating what’s convenient vs. what you know is healthier or watching TV because you are too tired to take a walk are the default behaviors that can be changed when you have a plan to short-circuit the familiar cause/effect patterns.

We all learned early on that the “Three Little Pigs” had some construction challenges and that the house built on the strongest foundation was most resilient. If you attempt to drive a golf ball far down the fairway with your feet together, you will get mixed outcomes ranging from losing your balance to not connecting with the ball at all. Taking a wider stance puts you in a far better position to maintain your stability which will likely result in better shots.

So how is this image transferable to behaviors that we have placed on auto-pilot like gym workouts? In my case, I feel better after my 60-minute program is over, but I know it is one that could use some updating by scheduling a session with a trainer to plan and review my current goals. I love doing sit-ups, hundreds of them, and not even break a sweat in the process. However, as soon as I moved from the bench to an exercise ball; not so easy, and in fact, not only was it harder, but my attention was now completely focused on each sit-up. I could not zone out and just go through the motions and when light weights were added, I quickly went from being stable to shaky as new muscles were engaged.

It takes practice to make a change and with the specific goal in mind of getting stronger by building my core, I am looking forward to hitting better golf shots and recording those favorite TV shows for post-gym workouts. An added benefit is that with a sturdier mid-section, my posture is improving and I feel more confident and energetic. Yes, a simple change in process can indeed yield broader results than expected.

How will you strengthen your core?

• Identify 1 activity that focuses on your core
• Plan it
• Do it!

© 2016 Maureen Weisner

Suffering is Always Optional

Nervous Business Woman Cringing As She Bites Her Nails“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

Suffering = Change x Resistance

According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

©MWeisner2016

 

Lighten Up to Slow Down

imagesCAB9JRCQA young woman steps into the elevator moments before her boss does. Earlier that day, she had presented what she thought was a well received presentation to her team. No acknowledgement is made on the ride to the lobby. Our junior executive jump-starts the following silent dialogue enroute:
• I blew the talk
• I embarrassed myself and my team
• I shouldn’t have volunteered to present
• I’ll never be promoted
• I hate this job
• I should have gone to medical school
• I’m too old now
• My husband never supported my dream
• I’m asking for a divorce when I get home

An extreme reaction? Perhaps, and yet how many times have we had an over the top response to the perceived behavior of someone else? If so, you are not alone and while we can snicker at the very detailed internal responses in the previous example, this negative self-talk took mere seconds from beginning to end. How many times in the course of the day do you engage in other sorts of negative thinking that in the long term is like a slow, toxic drip? Keep in mind that the average person has over 10,000 thoughts in the course of a single day.

There is no evidence in this encounter that her boss’s behavior could have been attributed to a poor performance by our presenter. In fact, she was preoccupied with other pressing issues and completely unaware of her fellow elevator riders. According to Ben Battner, author of The Blame Game, “For most people, the fear of being blamed looms larger than the hope of getting credit. This means that in an attempt to avoid risk, people often make the wrong choice- or no choice at all.”

So, how can mini dramas like this be short circuited in the future? We can take deliberate steps to prevent our minds from getting hijacked by pessimism, muffle the inner naysayer and identify the source.
• Slow down…you are not powerless
• Ask yourself why you are feeling so sensitive at that moment
• Is your reaction reasonable based on the facts or a fall back habit?
• Identify someone you can share this with for reliable feedback
• Slow down…you can change your self-talk

©MWeisner2015

Achieve Your 2015 Fitness Goals

girls-starting-lineWill this be another year of half-hearted attempts at getting fit, or will this really be the year begun with a new attitude? Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit gives us hope and a way to make changes that can break-up the old routines. The following is a mini-plan to begin.

1. Create a Routine: Teach your brain that it’s time to exercise by devising a cue, like putting your sneakers next to the door, or packing your lunch the night before. “A routine gives your brain something to latch onto,” says Duhigg.

2. Set Small Goals: You want to run 5 miles 3 x weekly? Week one, wear your workout gear. Week two, walk around the block. Increase slowly until you reach your goal. “Habit formation is built on small wins, according to the author.

3. Choose a Reward: When you reach your daily goal, regardless of what it is, treat yourself to a piece of chocolate, 20-minutes of Web browsing or whatever you genuinely like. “This works because you are training yourself to associate a behavior with something you actually enjoy,” states Duhigg.

4. Write it Down: List your cues and rewards: “Monday- put on workout clothes + one square of dark chocolate.” This works because by identifying your routine, you significantly increase the chance that the habit will take hold,” according to the author.

Change require discipline, patience and your personal buy-in. Think back to times when you have been able to consciously shift your thinking, modify or eliminate a behavior. Redirect your focus into replacing old actions with new behaviors for success!

Suffering is Optional

imagesCAKC7FR7“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

Suffering = Change x Resistance

According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

© 2015 Maureen Weisner

Strengthen Your Core

habitOver 40% of our behaviors are habits. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Some practices are good, like tooth brushing for healthy oral hygiene and some are even fundamental to our ability to function. But there are those things we do that are far from mindful as we react to the initial cue to engage, knowing the end result will make us feel better in some way, if only for the short term. Habits, good or bad, make us who we are. The key is controlling them. If you know how to modify your habits, then even a small effort can create significant changes. Eating what’s convenient vs. what you know is healthier or watching TV because you are too tired to take a walk are the default behaviors that can be changed when you have a plan to short-circuit the familiar cause/effect patterns.

We all learned early on that the “Three Little Pigs” had some construction challenges and that the house built on the strongest foundation was most resilient. If you attempt to drive a golf ball far down the fairway with your feet together, you will get mixed outcomes ranging from losing your balance to not connecting with the ball at all. Taking a wider stance puts you in a far better position to maintain your stability which will likely result in better shots.

So how is this image transferable to behaviors that we have placed on auto-pilot like gym workouts? In my case, I feel better after my 60-minute program is over, but I know it is one that could use some updating by scheduling a session with a trainer to plan and review my current goals. I love doing sit-ups, hundreds of them, and not even break a sweat in the process. However, as soon as I moved from the bench to an exercise ball; not so easy, and in fact, not only was it harder, but my attention was now completely focused on each sit-up. I could not zone out and just go through the motions and when light weights were added, I quickly went from being stable to shaky as new muscles were engaged.

It takes practice to make a change and with the specific goal in mind of getting stronger by building my core, I am looking forward to hitting better golf shots and recording those favorite TV shows for post-gym workouts. An added benefit is that with a sturdier mid-section, my posture is improving and I feel more confident and energetic. Yes, a simple change in process can indeed yield broader results than expected.

How will you strengthen your core?

• Identify 1 activity that focuses on your core
• Plan it
• Do it!

© 2014 Maureen Weisner