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Work-Life Balance With Achievement And Enjoyment

Finding work-life balance in today’s fast paced world is not a simple task.  If you are spending more time at work than at home, you could likely miss out on rewarding personal life moments.  Then again, when you face challenges in your personal life, such as caring for a young child or managing marital situations, concentrating on your job can be difficult.  If your job is overwhelming and exposes you to potential stress, then you may begin to feel pulled between the emotional needs of work and the emotional needs of home.  Whether the issue is too much focus on work or too little, when your work life and your personal life feel out of balance, stress – along with it’s harmful effects – is the result.

Work-life balanace does not mean an equal balance.  Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for each of your various work and personal activities is usually unrealistic.  Life is and should be more fluid and flexible than that.  Your best individual work-life balance for you today will probably be different for you tomorrow, as our priorities and goals shift and change.  The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you are married, and/or if you have children; also when you start a new career verses when you are retiring.  There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for.  The best work-life is different for each of us because we all have different lives.

The first step to help create work-life balance is to recognize those people or activities that you value the most.  At the core of an effective work-life balance definition are two concepts – achievement and enjoyment.  Most of us what to achieve so that we move up the ladder of whatever we are working on.  Most of us also want to have enjoyment of life, which does not just mean happiness but also a sense of well-being and love.   Look at achievement and enjoyment as the front and back of a coin – you cannot have one side without the other.

How To Have Achievement and Enjoyment 

1. Identify Your Life Values – Create a list of what you find most valuable in your life.  This list could be a wide range of valuables from your partner, children, and family, the time you spend alone mediation or taking a yoga class, dinner with friends, to a special project at work that you a working on.

2. Evaluate The Importance Of Your Values – Compare what is on your list.  Some things will have a higher demand than others depending on the time and situation.  Know that this list will likely shift throughout different phases of your life.

3. Schedule In Your Values – Begin to work what you value into your daily or weekly schedule.  If it is scheduled into you calendar, it will likely be achieved with the added bonus of being enjoyed!

Focusing on achievement and enjoyment in every day life will help with balancing and getting the most out of your experiences.

 

 

How Self-Aware Are You?

 

Self-awareness refers to both awareness of your body – meaning the heartbeat or respiration rate and the feeling of what is on your skin – as well as what you feel emotionally.   Have you ever had someone say to you “you seem angry?” and your response was “no, I’m not angry.”?  Or vice verse? It could very well be true that you or the other person was indeed angry and giving off the energy, yet not aware. Many of us at times have bouts of failure of self-awareness, which comes from the insula.  The insula has what is called a viscerotropic mass – viscero refers to the interior organs and tropic refers to the placement, the representation of those organs.

People with a very active insula seem to be extremely self-aware, both emotionally and physically. When  we discussed positive outlook and the ability to bounce back from a setback (being resilient), it sounds as if only one of the ends of this spectrum is the place to be as who would not want to be happy and ore resilient, right? However, this is not necessarily the case and with self-awareness you tend see where you may need to improve on yourself even more.

Self-awareness starts with just that – awareness.   When you begin to analyze and pay attention to your mind (thoughts) and body (heartbeat, touch, etc.) you become more self-aware. Once one becomes even slightly self-aware, especially when analyzing where they currently are in their lives, they will likely try to change if they feel that it would improve their life. This is a great step towards a better life and better relationships.

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Changing Negative Beliefs or Patterns

The first emotional styles we have is resilience to adversity. The adversity can be a wide range of so-called setbacks – from the most trivial things such as someone cutting you off in traffic to the more significant setbacks such as the passing of a loved one. The second emotional styles is outlook – meaning whether you have a positive or negative view on life.  The emotional styles of I’m discussing here is how our patterns persist or change.

With brain patterns, these questions may come to mind: How long have they been there? It is a brain pattern that existed (or that was established) during childhood as the brain develops? Was it present at birth? Can it be changed?

When Dr. Davidson did research on day-old infants, in the experiments he found that even at birth, there were clear individual differences and left/right asymmetry in terms of activation. Everyone’s genetic makeup is different, but the big question is do these differences persist? Dr. Davidson helped discover that what you are born with is not necessarily what you are dealt with as the brain and behavior can change.

Neuroplasticity is the idea that the brain can change – either for better or worse. The brain has the ability to change in both structure and function. Consider learning and memory – these are constant examples of how our brains are able to change form. When you learn something new and also when a new experience enters your memory, this is the brain changing – expanding and retaining.

Brain structure and function can change in response to two forces:

  1. The life you lead
  2. Thinking yourself into a different brain.

The life you lead, meaning the experiences you have – physical as well as emotional or mental – are signals from the outside world. This is similar to your brain collecting memories and learning new information. The other way the brain can change structure and function is in response to purely mental activity. This is similar to the second brain emotional style of outlook. Higher left activity is associated with a more positive outlook; higher right activity is associated with more negative outlook.  To change the brain grooves, you can think yourself into a different brain by working on a more positive outlook (or negative, as the door does swing both ways).

 

Photo courtesy of sattva and www.freedigitalphotos.net

Is Your Outlook on Life Positive or Negative?

Your outlook on situations and experiences can be broken down to be defined as either a positive outlook or a negative outlook. The left prefrontal cortex in a resilient person can be 30 times that of someone who is not as resilient – this means that there is a a pretty big difference in brain activity within people who are clinically depressed and those who are not clinically depressed. For people who suffer from depression, activity in the right prefrontal is much higher. For people who are healthier and have an overall positive outlook on life, activity is the left prefrontal is greater. In other words, left side activity equals positive and right side equals negative.

The thing to remember about these specific findings is that everyone has ups and downs in their lives, so the left and/or right asymmetry can change. This relates back to the first style – adversity – under certain difficult periods of people’s lives, they may behave and/or react differently during these times. This is simply just part of the ebb and flow of life as a human.

Dr. Richard Davidson has been doing research on the emotional styles of the brain for over twenty years. Dr. Davidson’s research has been on all kinds of walks of life, including everyday hard-working Americans, undergraduate volunteers, children and infants, and also a Tibetan monk community. These monks lent their time and brains to science by having Dr. Davidson run MRI’s and EEG’s on them. In his findings, Dr. Davidson has found that these monk’s left prefrontals were off the chart compared to his other findings making this evidence for the stark difference in the brain activity that underlie emotional and personality differences. The monks are constantly smiling, people of good will and constantly help one another. And their brains can prove it.

Photo courtesy of Ambro and www.freedigitalphotos.net

Having Holiday Self-Compassion

During the holiday season, we sometimes find ourselves emotionally distraught, distressed or just run down due to the overwhelming amount of events going on.  We likely will turn to others (partners, friends, parents, children) for comfort and guidance, and visa versa as the relationships we have with one another are one of our most important sources of well-being.  A great way to navigate dealing with any holiday stress is to have compassion.  Not only compassion for others and the situation, but compassion for yourself.

Self-compassion is when you are aware and honest, with a willingness to be non-judgemental, towards yourself.  No one in the world knows your feelings as well as you do. Because of this, you are the one most qualified person to bring compassion to yourself, which includes care, sensitivity, warmth, awareness, and kindness.  Having compassion for yourself will help you to bring compassion to others and your relationships with acceptance, unconditional love, and understanding.

Having Self-Compassion During The Holidays

Remind yourself to slow down.  
Take notice of when you become irritable or angry, maybe at a large line in the toy story or in rush hour mall traffic.  Especially take notice if you are angry towards yourself.  Meeting yourself where you are in the moment will help to you to accept the situation, calm yourself, and slow down.  Also remember to breathe!

Ask yourself how can you be happy right now.  
Enjoy what you want for the fact that you like it or the activity of it.  This brings in self-compassion by helping bring more awareness about yourself and what makes you happy.  Counting the things that you are grateful for is also another wonderful way to stay present.

Keep a sense of humor.  
Remember that all of the holiday stress you are under now will likely lighten up as soon as the holidays are over, and back to your more regular schedule.  If things go a little awry, try to laugh with it and keep it light.

Learn to generate a kind voice in your own head.  
Think of something that you do not like about yourself – as if you have a critic.  What is the critic saying and what emotions are rising as you hear them?   Invite and acknowledge all of these feelings and emotions, whatever they are – anger, sadness, fear, resentment, envy.  Try not to judge any of it as they are simply just thoughts and feelings moving through you. It is neither bad nor good, just awareness.  The compassionate self must be built – this is a great awareness exercise for building it up.

During this holiday season as you practice self-compassion, you will likely discover the awareness of being present.  You will feel more freedom to show up as you are and a greater sense of well-being, for yourself, your work, and  your relationships – which will benefit everyone involved.

Positive Psychology in Relationships

Relationships, no matter what level they are on, can have ups and downs. They can make you happy and at times sad. We are all looking for ways to enhance our relationships and make them better. When the relationships in our life are in unison, everything seems in sync.

One new view when it comes to enhancing a relationship is that of positive psychology. Many people think that psychology mainly focuses on the mental aspects of things. While it does, positive psychology has a different view. Positive psychology doesn’t focus on what’s wrong, but looks more at promoting a sense of well-being. It looks at how to get the life and relationships you want. It’s about your life experiences having a sense of happiness and pleasure – and ensuring that it all has meaning to you.

So how can you use positive psychology to enhance your life and your relationships? By utilizing these positive psychology techniques, you will become a better person and thus be better when it comes to the relationships in your life. These techniques include:

  •  Enjoy the moments in life by being aware of the things that give you pleasure. It’s OK to feel a sense of pleasure when something good happens. Enhance that pleasure by sharing it with others. Let them know about your experience and how great it was. Sharing a positive experience allows you to share the experience with others and assists in enhancing your communication skills with one another.
  • Try to avoid repetitive behaviors and experiences. It’s common knowledge that anytime you share an experience with someone, the first time you experience it is typically the best time. If you try to keep repeating that experience, it will never be as good as the first time. Try new experiences as often as you can. By introducing new experiences, you’re giving your relationship a chance to experience something new and thus creating a new bond with each experience.
  • Invest time in your friends and family. Building strong personal relationships has proven to enhance a person’s well-being.
  • Let go of any anger and resentment in your relationships. While it may feel like you’re doing something good, you’re actually hindering your happiness and adversely affecting the relationship when you hold onto these feelings. Try ridding yourself of the anger and resentment by writing it all down.

Developing a strong bond in your relationships needs to happen on all levels. A relationship that has a strong bond and sense of well-being in the good times has the foundation already built to get through the bad times as well.

Positive psychology is becoming more popular as time goes by. While the techniques look simple – and in a sense they are – there needs to be focus on the techniques to make them work. If you don’t give them your full attention, then they won’t be beneficial in the relationship or in your life. Relationships are a large portion of our lives. So making them the best that they can be is important. Use these techniques, and you are on your way to achieving a greater sense of well-being in your life.