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What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Years Ago…

There really is no “having it all.”  Wait, I take that back.  Maybe there is, but the “all” that you have has to include a little discontentment.  Everything in life requires choices, which means making tradeoffs.  Even if I’m deciding between two great options like a weekend at a spa with girlfriends, or a weekend at the beach with my husband, a tradeoff is required!  My twin sister has an amazing career, but she made the choice not to become a mother.  I could never parent the way I want to and support a job like hers.  (And certainly not without giving up much of everything else I love in my life, like spending time with friends or alone with my husband, doing philanthropy, yoga and exercise, and just the relaxed pace I’ve learned to love).

I guess it’s how you define the ALL in “having it all.”  Some days, I’m ok that my “all” includes awareness of the things I’m sacrificing and not doing.  That is, I have it all and having it all is not non-controversial!  Other days, I am dissatisfied with this “all” I have mapped out for myself, because I feel I’m wasting parts of my talent or not being productive enough or inadequately balancing the competing demands. Read more…

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Happy? It’s Your Choice.

Have you noticed there is a lot being written lately about the science of happiness?  Did you know there actually IS research on what makes us happy and how we can create more of it? Let’s explore one of the concepts in this new science:  increasing your happiness by OBSERVING instead of being DRIVEN by your thoughts, feelings, and reactions.

With all the stress of the economy and cultural pressures, it can seem harder now than ever to stay objective about our thoughts and reactions.

But here’s the cool tip:  understanding that just because these things HAPPEN (we react, flush, feel irritated, or have thoughts of guilt or self-beratement or “shoulds”)… doesn’t make those thoughts REAL or SIGNIFICANT.   Read more…

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Like Wine, Do We Improve With Age?

Kids are usually not allowed to enroll in contemporary dance class until they reach a certain age.  The thinking is that truly expressing emotion consciously through dance requires a maturity and development not found in very young dancers.  Isn’t is true?  Don’t you find yourself now better able to identify what you are feeling, and what creates or diminishes your happiness, than you were when you were younger?

So many of us these days are caught up in society’s preoccupation with youth and denying our aging process in every possible way.  So we sweat, inject, dye, and otherwise mold ourselves to race in the direction we think we need to go.

Yet, how many of us would want to go backward in what we know?  Particularly, in how we understand ourselves and appreciate what we truly value?  And how does rejecting ourselves physically as we age jive with the pleasure and appreciation we feel from reflecting on the lives we have built and the results we have sown from our choices?  We say we want to be happy, yet our concerns about this one area rob almost every woman I know of some of her happiness almost every day. Read more…

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A Simple System for Evaluating Options

Choices.  Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em, right?  We always want options and to feel we are in control, yet often selecting between alternatives brings anxiety and stress.  Here is a quick and dirty way to start evaluating whether a choice makes sense for you, based on the idea of AFFORDABILITY.

Affordability has to do with what something costs relative to the amount that you are willing/able to pay.

So in considering a choice or a change, ask yourself whether you can afford it in terms of 1) money, 2) emotional costs, 3) time commitment required.

Once you think through the amount of money something will cost (or money you have to give up for the new choice, such as quitting a job you don’t like), AND the emotional costs (such as managing the uncertainty or rejection you might feel in the face of others who think you are nuts for leaving your job!), and finally, the time commitment (hours you will have to spend looking for a new job, or cleaning your house if you can no longer pay someone else to do it, etc)… you may find a surprising sense of peace and clarity as to whether the choice makes sense for you or not. Read more…

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Release Flaws By Revealing Them?

Quick:  name the top 5 worst things about yourself.  Now, when was the last time you talked about any of them?

A muffin top or addiction to reality tv may be flaws you discuss with others, but are they really that big a deal?  What about the underlying issues or aspects of yourself that might REALLY be responsible… like believing you are lazy, or deserving of punishment, or racked by insecurity?  True or not (and usually NOT, or not nearly as much as we fear about ourselves!), these may be flaws you are almost unwilling to admit to yourself let alone discuss with someone else!

In fact, you may be exaggerating feelings of shame or worthlessness by NOT acknowledging the deeper issue.  Research suggests that “shedding light” on a normally hidden or ignored aspect of one’s self can be a pivotal tool for diminishing the feeling and the self judgement. Being willing to even open the door diminishes the guilt we layer on top of concerns that makes them loom so large. Read more…

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Tiger Moms, Sleepovers, and Skill Building

Which do you think is more challenging for teens and tweens:  memorizing math equations or successfully navigating the waters of girl friendship and peer pressure?

New York Times columnist David Brooks takes issue with author Amy Chua (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom) who denies her kids the “coddling” of playdates in favor or strict emphasis on studying and piano practice. Quite the opposite is true, says Brooks in his column “Amy Chua is a Wimp”.  He writes:

“Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.” Read more…

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Freedom from fear? Try faith [in yourself]!

Have you heard the statement:  ”You are either coming from fear or you are coming from faith”?

Like it or not, when coming from fear we are present mostly to negatives:  what can go wrong; the downside of actions or circumstances; a feeling of “high stakes” about what we are doing.  When coming from faith, on the other hand, a sense of calmness and clarity is present.  Without the static of worry, we can take action with optimism, purpose, and a clear sense of vision.

Author Cheney Moldano recently wrote an eye-opening article on fear and faith, and how attention to either inevitably shapes our actions and what we get in life.  He points out that what we fear, we often act to avoid.  Yet by dedicating much of our action and attention to what we DON’T want, the presence of that undesirable thing looms large!  Faith, he writes:

“…is the opposite of fear. It is a deep knowing that something is true although there may not be physical evidence or a way to prove it to others. It is beyond positive thinking. Faith carries action. If you truly believed that you were going to move, wouldn’t you start packing? If you truly believed that your significant other loves you, and you love them, wouldn’t you trust them?
Faith will guide your life, rather than control it (as fear can). Faith builds your confidence. If you walk in to an interview knowing that you will be hired, and if not the right job for you will come along, your confidence will be evident. Fear will take away from your confidence and cause doubts. Faith will encourage you to move forward.” Read more…

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What She Said Was Not What We Heard

Ah, the power of speech.  Words can have a huge impact… but what of the power of LISTENING?  When we speak, we all hope our intended meaning is the one perceived by our audience.  But is it?

Consider the recent uproar over author and law professor Amy Chua’s book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”   She says she was writing a memoir, offering an individual’s experience of anguish whether her traditional Chinese parenting approach was as effective as it could be and the judgments she had against the more lax Western models. Read more…

Making Mantras that Motivate YOU

Our culture is rife with short statements designed to spur action:  ”just do it”, “work hard, play hard”, “one day at a time”, “make it or break it”, “no pain, no gain” and so on.  Do any of these speak to you?  Why or why not?

In our last post we said we would be providing you with ideas for developing personal mantras according to your own challenges, talents, and ideas for turbo charging yourself!

Remember, effective mantras are short, positive, directive, and energetic.  One strategy is to stick with pairing a verb with an adjective or noun related to your desired feeling or end result.  Verbs get your blood and energy moving and nouns and adjectives tell you how to harness that impulse.  You might string two sets of verb/noun or verb/adjective together to tap into two dimensions of a challenge or opportunity.

Some verbs to consider:  be, think, live, feel, act, hold, embrace, notice, see, realize, honor, allow, explore.

And adjectives:  strong, fast, calm, fluid, present, powerful, flexible, capable, open, focused.

Or nouns: love, peace, tenacity, equanimity, control, patience, victory, possibility, change

Read more…