For some it’s already been a long winter and during these times, many people have to work harder at happiness. Here are nine practical and concise suggestions, as compiled by the Daily Express newspaper.
1- Help others: Humans are hard-wired for altruism, which is why it makes us happy. Our ancestors had to help each other to stay alive, and being kind strengthens our relationships and makes us feel good too.
Try it: Perform an act of kindness every day such as serving a loved one breakfast in bed, letting a stranger have your parking space or calling a sick friend.
2- Reach out: Those with strong relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
Try it: Ask a friend, relative or colleague about the best part of their day and listen intently to their answer.
It’s very reassuring when someone with serious experience as a senior business leader writes compellingly about the benefits of meditation. Bill George was a senior executive for about two decades, including six years as CEO of medical device company Medtronic. He is now a professor at the Harvard Business School.
Here are some excerpts from a recent article by Bill in the Huffington Post:
“…What is causing this shift to mindful leadership? In the stress-filled 24/7 world in which we live, leaders of all organizations need the opportunity for a “time out” period. It is their opportunity to relax, breathe deeply, de-stress and gain clarity about their work and the decisions they are facing. As I stressed at last week’s summit, mindfulness practices enable leaders to ensure the important issues are taking precedence over immediate pressures.”
“…This practice is the best thing I have done to calm my mind and my emotions, focus on what is most important while releasing trivial worries and think clearly about important decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, my most creative ideas have come from meditation.”
“…Of course, meditation is not for everyone. What is essential for all of us — as I share in my classes and lectures — is having a daily practice of taking twenty minutes to quiet your mind, reflect and be introspective. For you, it may come through prayer, journaling, reflecting in a beautiful place or taking a long walk or jog. The goal? To create more self-aware leaders who understand themselves, their motivations, their values and the purpose of their leadership.”
“…Becoming a mindful leaders requires daily practice. It is easy to say, as I did back in 1974, that you don’t have the time to fit this practice into your busy schedule. In fact, the opposite is true — you don’t have the time not to pursue it.
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“Character, what you are, is ultimately more important than competence, what you can do. Primary greatness is, at is base, a matter of character… It is foundational. All else builds on this cornerstone. Even the very best structure, system, style, and skills can’t compensate completely for deficiencies in character.” – Stephen R. Covey, Primary Greatness
There are 12 areas we can focus on to build our character and unleash primary greatness.
1. Integrity. Our first lever of primary greatness: To actually BE that which we aspire to be rather than merely
appear to be. This is the foundation of success.
2. Contribution. This is all about your legacy. How will you make a positive difference?
3. Priority. That which matters most must never be at the mercy of that which matters least. We must, as Covey taught in
7 Habits put “first things first.”
We all try to avoid suffering and in the process enlarge it and so make it worse, Malcolm Durham writes.
That’s because we don’t simply accept the thing which is making us suffer — say a complaint from a client — but enlarge it in a four-step process:
1. We ask questions: “How did this happen to me?”
2. We seek explanations: “It’s because I’m not good enough; because the world is against me.”
3. We heap on self blame: “I really need to perform better.”
4. We end up feeling desperate: “I’m not going to succeed because these bad things keep happening to me.”
Julia Edelstein has written a helpful article. Some highlights:
…Understand that you’re being played by programmers. A heavy social-media habit isn’t entirely your fault. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — they’ve all been designed to make you repeatedly use them and check back in…When you keep in mind that the technology is designed to hold you hostage, you might be motivated to set time limits. Think of it as buying a snack-size bag of chips instead of the party-size.
Set limits: Vow to stay off social media during meals with others, when you’re in the bathroom or in bed.
Buy an alarm clock: If you use your phone as an alarm, the last and first thing you’ll do each day is stare into that screen.
It bears repeating (again and again), a healthy mind lives inside a healthy brain, which in turn lives inside a healthy body.
Eat your greens – everyone has heard this but most people just don’t eat much, certainly not more than once per day, unless you count the one or two weeks per year in the summer when they are on holiday in a Mediterranean country.
There’s one relatively easy addition to your daily food routine that could have a big boost to your mental and physical health.
Children are always being forced to eat their greens. Ironically it’s much more important for adults – especially middle-agers – to eat these greens because middle-agers need to combat the effects of oxidization – young children don’t!
Fresh greens are super foods. During autumn and winter months they are best eaten “wilted” (i.e. lightly sautéed or steamed) in soups, curries, stews, etc. The absolute easiest way to “prepare” them is to put some soup in a big bowl, sprinkle two or three handfuls of greens onto the soup and heat in a microwave for about 4 minutes.
A simple recipe: