Using Prosocial Emotions to Lift Us Up!

We are learning, stretching, growing even if it feels that we are isolating and folding in on ourselves. The global pandemic is creating a new normal in the world that includes social distancing and voluntary isolation. Many of us feel some anxiety and potentially the beginnings of depression as we are uncertain about our future and cut off from our fellow humans. 

To combat these feelings, we can cultivate positive and prosocial emotions. Prosocial emotions provide a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and offer us a way to connect and lift each other up.  These emotions include curiosity, surprise, amusement, gratitude, kindness and awe. Interestingly, these emotional states also spark creativity and lift us out of boredom which may be feeding the depression settling in.  Try some of these action items to boost your mood and lift others up!

  1. Look for acts of moral elevation.  What are people doing right now that is inspiring you. I have seen people sewing masks for healthcare workers, donating time in food drives, live streaming yoga and meditation sessions, and shopping for elderly neighbors.
  2. Create small rituals at home and throughout your community. Rituals help to ground us in the present and can foster a sense of belonging in a community. Community rituals lead to collective effervescence where the energy in one person bubbles up and inspires another person to shine. In my neighborhood people have been going outside their homes at 8pm to “howl in support” of our healthcare workers. The neighborhood becomes alive with collective effervescent howling washing over everyone listening!
  3. Control what you are able to control right now, the amount of news that you consume, what you eat, how you are exercising and sleeping.  These small acts of self-care really do go a long way!
  4. Practice gratitude. Write down or share with your family the things that you are grateful for each day. You will begin to start looking for things that you appreciate and that are going well.  We need gratitude practice now more than ever as we walk this unknown path together.
  5. Be kind and share compassion…especially with your teenagers at home. Everyone is effected by our shelter in place practice and some more than others. Having a compassionate heart will help you relate to another’s experience and find solutions in a creative way. Sometimes the solution is doing nothing, but listening to another without judgement.

And remember to reach out if you are able to help someone or lift someone up!


Everyday Awe

In the wake of some recent tragic deaths I have been doing some soul searching about my place here on this beautiful planet we inhabit. I am also about to turn 50 and realize that I have been blessed to live an abundant life thus far and plan on experiencing and participating in so much more! I am struck by how, during these times of contemplation, we can feel small and understand how precious life really is. I learned recently that this feeling is actually associated with the emotion of Awe and that experiencing Awe can make us feel more connected to one another and the natural world.

Awe experiences are self-transcendent. They shift our attention away from ourselves, make us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, and make us more generous toward others.

Dacher Keltner

What exactly is Awe?  It is a complex emotion that gives you a feeling of vastness and connection at the same time.

Read More

For every two parts happiness add one part meaning

If you want to find more fulfillment in your work follow this equation
 
Passion projects aside, the search for fulfilling work does not need to center around your personal happiness. It is important to feel good while in your work environment and for your work to be in alignment with your values, but happiness as a goal for work may be leaving you a bit shortchanged. Here’s why, happiness is found in the present whereas meaning transcends time to include past/present/future.

Meaningfulness is something we invest energy in without expecting a return.

Read More

Bringing your retreat home

WHY DO WE RETREAT?  

We retreat to get away from it all and collect our energy that is otherwise spread out in multiple directions for inner growth. All the stress, noise, responsibilities and distractions of everyday life melt away and we are able to get back in touch with who we are and what is important to us. We use the fresh perspective that a new environment provides to reconnect with ourselves and find our flow. Sometimes we learn something new or understand a situation that has been troubling us. Sometimes we meet someone who inspires us. Most often we are simply reset and reinvigorated and return home hoping to keep this fresh perspective alive.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE RETURN HOME?

Read More

Accessing Passion is Tricky Business

Passion has been a buzzword in the field of coaching for a long time, yet very rarely does a client show up at my door brimming with passion, ready to put it into action. A direct question about passion is often met with a blank stare from my clients who struggle to find something, anything that lights them up.

Most of us feel overwhelmed when asked about our passion. We may also feel stuck, trapped or anxious. Our creative brain can literally freeze and shut down due to the complexity of the passion question. It just feels too big to answer. Moreover, most people think there is something wrong with them if they do not know what they are passionate about or what their purpose is.

So how do we turn our creative brain back on and find some possibilities for a passion-filled life? Here are four ways to start:

Read More

Are you a Multipotentialite?

This morning I was having a conversation with my daughter about college classes as some of her older cousins are going off to college in the Fall. She was wondering how many different classes you could take each semester and suggested that you could take classes in your major and your minor. I suggested the idea of taking a class just because you may be interested in the subject and she informed me that this was not allowed…she is eleven.

How does my daughter at age eleven already feel that you have to choose a course of study in college and follow that course into the world of work?

Cultural norms support the idea that we have one purpose; that we are meant to do one important thing here on this earth over and over again until we achieve mastery. This general cultural bias towards specialization leaves out the opportunity for one to experience a broad range of possibilities.

In some of us, it creates anxiety over the consequences of choosing the wrong major, or taking the wrong job, or wanting to switch career paths in midlife. What if you want to study many subjects or have many careers or would like to pursue many interests? 

What if you’re an e-Ticket kind of person who just wants to do it all!! 

Well, you may be a Multipotentialite: A person with many interests and creative pursuits. And for you, there are likely many paths.

Read More

Unstuck

I know I’m stuck when I have no answer for the simple question, what’s going on?  My honest answer would be, not much and everything at the same time…I am exhausted and not getting anything done!  But to be more PC, I give a standard answer about the usual life stuff: work, kid, travel, house, etc.

Does this sound familiar?

Read More

Have You Met the New You? Updating Your Operating System for the New Year

A new operating system comes out and we rush to update our devices, but what about ourselves?  Are we integrating the newest version of us? This holiday season with all of the rushing around, try to take some time out to update yourself before jumping into a New Year.

Now, you may be one who waits to install the update until you see how it works for others or until the bugs are all worked out. Or maybe you feel you have always been doing something the same way and it is working out for you, like that old chocolate chip cookie recipe that makes everyone happy.  If this is sincerely the case, then keep on doing it the same way! But if you want to do something different or want a different result, you have to update your data to the new you. You have new life experience, new information, new preferences and even new values.  You may wish to work with new people or in a new environment.

Don’t bring the old you to a new situation. Update your operating system before the New Year!

Read More

Transitions are Supposed to be Uncomfortable

Transitions are challenging for most of us and the truth is that they should be. A transition is like a chemistry experiment where you are moving from one state to another and along the way there is turbulence. A transition creates an internal state of chaos so that you can reorganize the patterns in your life and get rid of what is no longer working.

Read More

Unplug

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”  -Anne Lamott

Most of us need to make a conscious effort to take a break from technology as our electronic devices are just too addictive to put down. For me, the best break from technology is to be without a WiFi connection. This forced break brings my focus back to the present and allows me to be in touch with my inner self. I recently returned from a backpacking trip into the heart of the North Cascades National Park where I was without a WiFi and cellular connection for five days. At first, it was tough to let go of my desire  to be entertained, distracted and generally attached to my phone. My phone feels like an extension of me and when I cannot find it I can experience a mini panic attack. I was experiencing this panic-like feeling for about the first 24 hours of the trip and then something wonderful happened….I forgot about my phone and I began to interact in an authentic way with my surroundings.

Read More