A list.

I was reading a list of seven things a boss should never say to an employee, and I thought “Wow” that is a great idea for a post, “Seven things we should never say to ourselves.” 

So I started writing a list of them, and gosh, it was so depressing I decided this would be better.

Seven things we should say to ourselves:

  1. I did a really good job on that.
  2. Wow, I look great.
  3. I am proud of myself for figuring out a way to handle that.
  4. I am good at this (whatever this is at the moment.)
  5. I love . . .
  6. I am happy (when the awareness hits you.)
  7. Mmm, I feel great.

Simple list, big results.  Try working them all in today or this weekend. 

They are seven great reminders of just how wonderful, capable, and beautiful you really are.

Do you have any personal favorites to add to the list?  Comment away. It would be great if we could get the list to 100.  “100 wonderful things to say to ourselves.”

Have a great weekend.

Mmm, I feel great.  I did a really good job on that. I am so happy.  I am proud of myself for figuring out a way to handle today’s post.  I am good at this. (OMG, cannot believe I said that publicly. Hmm, the world has not ended, nothing bad happened just because I said I was good at something in public.  Whew.)

 I love it when it works.

Six down, one to go and it is not even 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning. I really am good at this.

Enjoy.

“Reader’s Digest” version

Since we are all short of time and the weather is getting nicer, I will be brief.

WHO: 

Big organization in UK

WHAT:

Really cool comprehensive report about well-being

WHEN: 

Published 2008

WHERE:

UK

WHY:

To review worldwide scientific literature about well-being, so citizens of the UK could live their best lives. (Told you it was cool.)

And the well-being winners are . . . 

  • Connecting:

              Care about others, develop relationships. Understand they are the foundation for your well-being.

  • Being active:

               Move, and keep moving.  Find exercise and activities you like and do them.

  • Taking notice:

              Develop awareness of the moment, beauty, the unusual and the not so unusual, the simple and the complex.

              Relish and reflect on above.

              Be curious, it might have killed the cat, but it will keep you engaged and engaging.

  • Learning:

               Try new things; explore what makes them, you and the world tick.

  • Giving:

               Gratitude, kindness, support, time, effort, a smile and a hug. 

There you have it: Simple, free stuff we can all do.

317 pages condensed to 175 words – hope I didn’t leave anything out.

Thank you to the folks at Foresight for caring enough to do the work.

PS Reading this post counts as “Learning;” sharing it could be connecting; take a deep breath and you are on your way to awareness; now stretch –mmm that feels good –you moved, then smile while writing someone a thank you email and you are on your way to a weekend filled with well being.

Have a good one.

Gentle Irish words

For at least a year I have been saying the first line of this Irish blessing to myself when trying something new or doing something I find a bit scary.

I do not know why it makes me feel so good.  

Perhaps it is because when I picture the road rising to meet my footsteps I am reminded that if I let go, chances are things will fall gently into place.

Surprisingly, today was the first time I looked up the full blessing. I thought it was just a one or two-line saying.  

I am glad I did.  The last line evokes such a feeling of warmth and safety, not so much for the reference to God, but for being held in the hollow of one’s hand. Mmm, that is just so nice.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This is my wish for you:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Have a wonderful day.

I hear you.

At the YWCA Women’s Leadership Conference I attended yesterday in Cleveland, Ohio – thank you, Marci – two of the speakers shared some valuable insights:

Being right is not a right, nor a necessity, nor even a good idea most of the time.

And hard as it is, the best response is usually a simple friendly:

Ah huh.   I hear you.   Wow.   Okay.   Really? 

These responses do not necessarily imply consent, just respect – for the person I am listening to and their right to think differently than me.

I was reminded that my opinion is just that, mine, and not sharing it is a perfectly valid option. (Ouch.)

It doesn’t mean the world or life as I know it will end.  I will not disappear, and the world will keep spinning on its slightly altered axis.  Great reminders from Marianne Ford.

Later, I was reminded how cool I am – thank you DeLores Pressley – and my personal power was raised to high! 

And, I learned that fear – you know the thing that keeps us in our place – is usually:  False   Evidence   Appearing   Real

(Not to worry, my Courage Diet is nearby.)

DeLores also shared that we are our best business cards.  I like that.  

So this weekend, I will keep my opinions to myself (promise), make sure fear isn’t stopping me from doing what I really want (cross my heart) and take time to remember just how cool I am!

Hope you do the same.  Have a great weekend.

Becoming a virtuoso

Okay, I’m tad geeky and nerdy, I admit it, but I was reading and really enjoying Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D.’s  book, “Authentic Happiness”, and guess what I found out.

There are six universal (as in world-wide and throughout time) – virtues.

Want to know what they are?

Guess.

(Sorry, middle-child syndrome, anything for attention.)

Okay, before I tell you what they are, here is the really cool part.  Since these virtues are traits not talents, you can grow them.  You can become a “virtuoso”.

You, your family and friends, your neighbors, the folks across town and halfway around the world can develop:

  • wisdom
  • courage
  • humanity
  • justice
  • temperance
  • transcendence (fancy way of saying spirituality)

At this time, research shows that developing these virtues is the key to authentic happiness.  Science and Mom agree, doing good makes you feel better and it can help you live positive, rewarding life.

Seligman refers to these virtues as “psychological capital” (sort-of like money-in-bank in the pursuit of happiness) they are the building blocks of fulfillment; the seeds of contentment.

And, unlike pleasure, which feels good but is fleeting in nature (even the most delicious and expensive bottle of wine empties and every chocolate melts (hopefully on your tongue) and every sweet kiss and great vacation ends) virtues are the gift that keep on giving. Their benefits are long-lasting.

Exercising this six-pack is good for your heart and your soul, and it’s free.

But here is the thing I really love about all this. Every culture values the same things. Not that we all act like we do all the time, but somewhere deep inside our collective psyches we agree that having and developing wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence is valuable. That it is worthwhile. We all agree, on something.

I think that is a good thing. And, that becoming a virtuoso is well-worth the effort.

Have a great day.

“Twenty Questions,” well, sort-of.

Have you ever been to a Rotary meeting? 

Some of you may already be drifting off . . . but honestly, attending  just one meeting of the Brandon ’86 self-proclaimed “Greatest Rotary Club in the World” could wash away all of your mid-winter blues. 

I was a proud member of this great club, but grad school, then Peace Corps and now traveling keep me from their doors on a regular basis, but when I do go, something wonderful always happens.  

The magic starts when a large group of people gather and greet each other warmly at 7:00 a.m. on a Friday morning.

Yup, 7:00 a.m., Friday morning, friendly faces!   

Folks select their seats and the magic begins to spread as laughter and gentle joking fills the room.

By 7:15 you are feeling great and no longer sorry you rose, showered and drove a bit out of your way to attend. 

Just before you eat, everyone rises, and among other things, recites the Rotary “Four Way Test.” 

Are you still with me? Good, hang in there.

(Something about hearing fifty or so folks say this in unison always gets to me.)

First – Is it the TRUTH?

Second – Is it FAIR to all concerned?

Third – Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIP?

Fourth – Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?  

These questions were the musings of Herbert J. Taylor, a businessman and Rotary member, who in 1932 penned them to help himself deal with a business crisis.

I think Taylor was a wise man to take this approach, because questions are truly transformational.

We wouldn’t ask questions, if we did not believe we had a choice or a future.

My favorite question, and one I wish I would remember to ask myself  every single time I face a dilemma or stressful situation, is:  

Is there any other way to look at this situation then the way I am looking at it right now? 

Twenty words that can change your life, because – I truly believe – the answer is always:

 “Yes” there is another way, and probably more than one.

It takes courage, openness, patience and hope to ask and answer this question.

But the rewards are great.

Just like getting up early to hang-out with old friends on a Friday morning.

This is my version of the Twenty Questions game.

Have a great weekend.

Oh, and just for fun here is the Rotary “Four Way Test” in French and German:

Le critère des quatre questions:

  1. Est-ce conforme à la vérité ?
  2. Est-ce loyal de part et d’autre ?
  3. Est-ce susceptible de stimuler la bonne volonté réciproque et de créer de meilleures relations amicales ?
  4. Est-ce profitable à tous les intéressés?”

Die 4-Fragen-Probe

Bezüglich der Dinge, die wir denken, sagen oder tun:

  1. Ist es wahr?
  2. Ist es fair für alle Beteiligten?
  3. Wird es Freundschaft und guten Willen fördern?
  4. Wird es dem Wohl aller Beteiligten dienen?

Ciao, “Au Revoir”, “Auf Wiedersehen”

Valentine’s Day 2011

 

A good friend of mine, Heather, who is still serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the same city I did, Bitola, Macedonia, posted a comment after reading my recent Valentine’s Day post  . . .

“Patrice, this sounds really wonderful. Do you remember last Valentine’s Day? We spent it facilitating an exciting workshop for Roma women in Skopje, and it was such an empowering thing for all of us as well. Maybe a nice Valentine’s tradition is forming?”

The workshop was part of our work as Peace Corps Volunteers in Macedonia and one of my favorite Peace Corps memories.  (Please note: In many parts of the world, the Romani people are known as Roma, and also unfortunately as “gypsies” or “travelers.” Terms which are often used in a derogatory manner.)

The focus of the weekend workshop was domestic abuse: identifying and addressing it. Heather and I were asked to participate on Saturday to provide more support for the women involved.

We decided to focus our sessions and activities on building self-esteem and helping the women realize their personal and collective value. My most vivid memories of the workshop are not what we taught them, but what I learned from them.

I learned about courage and the deep, rich bravery a mother or grandmother must develop to find a better life for her children while living in a tiny shack open to the elements on a dusty, dirty road ascending a garbage-covered hill, knowing her children’s educational and economic outlooks are as bleak as their neighborhood and physical and emotional abuse and cultural alienation are common.

I will never forget the message the Romani women shared with me that day: courage and happiness are choices.  Somehow, they had found ways to be happy, if even for fleeting moments, and to bloom in an environment that did little, if anything, to encourage their growth.

The one exception to their negative neighborhood environment was Sumnal, one of the sponsors of the workshop and a local non-governmental organization (similar to a not-for-profit in the States). Sumnal offered classes, programs and much more; it was a safe and supportive place for the women and their children.

The Sumnal coordinator of the workshop, a young, intelligent and very professional Romani woman arranged a pre-planning meeting with Heather and me to make sure our presentations matched their needs and the spirit of their workshop. At her request, I explained what my plans were for my session. After listening intently to what I thought was really good information (mine), she leaned forward and said to me (in perfect English – I could not explain my plans in the Macedonian I knew and did not speak Romani at all):

“Patrice, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about or why you think that it will work.” Her eyes met mine when she said, “We have never done anything like this before, I do not understand.”

I felt a bit deflated (understatement), paused, lowered my eyes and was mentally preparing my response, when she put her hand on mine and said,

“I do not understand, but I am going to trust you. It will be fine, I am sure.”

I was stunned. How many people, after just meeting someone, are open and confident enough to leap across a cultural divide as wide as ours was in that moment, and respond with such grace and trust?

I realized immediately it wasn’t me she trusted, but rather Jessica, her colleague and the wonderful Peace Corps volunteer she worked with, who had invited us to participate. She respected Jessica, and therefore, Jessica’s choices. It was Jessica, who had built the cultural bridge I was being allowed to cross.

Thankfully, the workshop was a huge success, and the women really enjoyed our sessions. After that amazing Valentine’s Day experience and the one I had this year “Exciting, healthy day”, I decided Heather was right, it is time to start a new tradition. I want to celebrate every Valentine’s Day working with and learning from other women.

To make sure that happens, if you or your not-for-profit organization would like to plan a Valentine’s Day workshop for women – especially women, who might not get to attend workshops very often, I am in. My services are free. I know my rewards will be priceless.

If you are interested, contact me at wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com, it is never too early to get started planning a good thing.

(I will repeat this offer annually.  And, Heather you are always invited!)

 

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