Friday, July 27, 2007

Is Stress Contagious?

The news has been aflutter with articles about a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine that indicates that Obesity is 'Contagious'.

I've been saying that about stress for quite some time. It's one of the core principles of my definition of stress - "A reaction that commonly occurs when your current situation doesn't match your ideal version of that situation"

The more common stress is in your life - the more it's seen as acceptable, beneficial, or natural - the more likely you are to choose it (and yes, unless your life is in immediate danger, you are choosing it).

So rather than congregate or interact with people whom "Stress Out" find another group (or create one) that values other modes of interacting and expressing themselves - maybe a group that tends to laugh rather than gripe.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The music of life

Yesterday I listened in on an interview with Tal Ben-Shahar (Harvard professor who lectures on Positive Psychology) talk about how goals are the means to enjoying the journey. Which goes right along with how I prefer to differentiate between living a life of purpose with high standards vs. a life towards goals with high expectations (I'll elaborate more on this soon).

Alan Watts has a simple comparison between the journey of life and how we listen to music, and the creators of South Park created a fun depiction to emphasize the message in Watt's speech.

(in case you can't see the video - see it directly on YouTube)

(Thanks to Maneu for the link)

Monday, July 23, 2007

?eil a ro ,hturt eht ti si (aka How to Catch a Liar)

(Is it the truth, or a lie?)

Lying can be hard, stressful work. It's been made more difficult by the research in Aldert Vrij's recently updated book - Detecting lies and deceit: The psychology of lying and the implications for professional practice (in press) - which states that a very effective method to detect a false story is to ask the person to tell it backwards.

Turns out that keeping your lies straight is harder when you're being asked to twist them around in your head.

[Thanks to Dan Goldstein for being on the pulse.]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How I always catch my train

The subway is my main form of transportation. As such, I see a lot of trains pulling out of the station*.

I often hear people cursing the train, their bad luck, or the elderly woman who was moving slowly down the stairs. These people have a very strong attachment to an imaginary life. I don’t know what kind of magic and wonders they expected to happen as a result of the recently departed train, but whatever it was is gone, and the sooner they accept that the better.

Imagine walking up to an ATM – would you get mad at the person ahead of you because they’re about to receive the $20 bill that you have big plans for? That $20 bill has pulled out of the “ATM station.” That $20 has a unique adventure ahead of it, but so does the one about to enter your pocket.

The same can be said of you and your train ride. Yes, you could have one set of adventures if you caught the earlier train, but you’re now faced with this set – the one the universe has given you the opportunity to take.

“Your train” is the one you actually end up riding, not the one you planned on taking.

Congratulations, now you’ll never miss your train again!

* At which point I think, “great, I’m early for the next one” (I actually feel that more and more often the trains are just arriving at the station).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Workshop: Improving Relationships Through Improv

(A communications workshop for non-improvisers)

Tuesday, July 17th from 7-9pm

Want to make a great relationship even better?

Whether you have been together for 3 dates, 3 months, or 3 years, there is always the opportunity to:

- Deepen your connection
- Add more playfulness to your relationship
- Enhance the excitement
- Express gratitude
- Deepen your trust
- Share more
- Create more openness
- Be willing to make mistakes
- Explore ways to say things that are hard to say
- Build the relationship together
- Support each others' development
- Take cooperation to a new level
- Be present
- Have fun

Why improv?

Improv is founded on the concepts of open communication, playfulness, boldness, sharing, agreement, and acceptance.

These are the core elements of the most successful and exciting relationships.

Learning improv games is the easiest, most light hearted way to hone these communications skills.

How it's taught:

This workshop is not about being fast and funny. Instead, we will walk you through some of the tools and theory of great improv, as well as play some games (like those on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?). In this safe environment, explore different ways to listen and express yourself.

Come be a part of it!
Register now!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I feel stronger already

Part of what I love about my work is that I get to learn and experience new tools to help my clients learn about themselves.

My friend Craig Jennings recommended I take the assessment that comes with the book Now, Discover Your Strengths.

I must say that I think it's very accurate, and I'm now working on leveraging them more in how I coach and build up my business.

Here are excerpts of the explanations of my 5 greatest strengths:
The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity.

Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You instinctively observe each person's style, each person's motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. Because you are such a keen observer of other people's strengths, you can draw out the best in each person.

Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling.

When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible.

You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people-in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends-but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours.