Who’s The Real Boss Of You?

Who’s The Real Boss Of You?

Everyday Mindfulness Kindness Self Compassion Thoughts

Today I asked my boss if I could take a sun day for gardening.  In winter we take powder days for skiing, seems only logical!  My boss thought that was a good idea.  My boss isn’t perfect, she’s overly judgmental of herself and good at “shoulding(1)” herself; she always tries to do more than is realistically possible; and isn’t great at having the hard conversations that affect her, even though she can listen to others hard conversations all day!  But, I like her. She works hard, always working on improving her abilities and she really cares about me and others.

[Just in case anyone doesn’t know – my boss is me.]
Spring flowers
Spring flowers are so cheerful!

Today, as I was gardening, and actively working on letting go of the guilt of not sitting at my desk, I flashed back to a turning point in my life, a conversation I’ll always remember.  One day when I was running a Distance Education department at a community college and getting my PhD, I sat down to tell my boss that I had to finish writing this dissertation and I wouldn’t be staying past 5 PM until I had finished, I had to make it a priority.  I assured him I’d still get my work done.  I remember clearly the look he gave me filled with kindness and caring, and there was no irony in his voice as he quietly said to me, “I never asked you to stay past 5PM Christine.”  I just took that in.  My husband used to always joke that I expected more of myself than anyone else could possibly expect of me, but this quiet comment from the best mentor and boss I’d ever had struck deep.

This memory made me think about the knowledge I’ve gained about Mindfulness of thought and mind.  There’s a reason I call my mind a trouble maker.  It doesn’t often seem to be on my side, although I know it’s just trying to watch out for me and make sure I don’t forget anything.  And this memory has me contemplating who my boss is these days?  Do I:  A) Let my mind run things without paying much attention to it; or B) Does someone else make my decisions for me; or C) Do I mindfully act and react to each moment thoughtfully?  To be honest, some combination of A and C, but there is more C than there used to be!

These thoughts make me wonder how many of you are in that same boat that I was, creating habits of judging and “shoulding” yourself?  I hope not many.  I’d love to be the only one!  Do you expect more of yourself than you expect of others?  Is your mind always busy reminding you what you “should” be doing or what you aren’t doing well enough?

View
A reminder to look up from weeding.

Does anyone really care if I choose to pull weeds all day in the sun when I don’t have meetings today and I’m not missing anything?  No, and yet there’s guilt to work through, to acknowledge.  In Mindfulness we just keep trying to be aware and curious about each moment.  Paying attention to our mind, and noticing without judgment, what the mind is doing.  After spending so much of my life creating these patterns, I don’t expect them to magically disappear, but it’s nice to recognize them sooner rather than later, to laugh at myself or at the least give myself that little internal smile, and follow the exhale, letting go of the tension and returning my attention to whatever I’m choosing to do in that moment.  And, sometimes I have to return and do that over and over again, before it takes hold, but it’s better than beating myself up for a whole day and not even realizing I’m doing it!

I invite you to think about this.  What are the areas of your life where you forget to notice the joy, or where you forget to realize the next moment is your decision?  Are you pushing harder and faster for yourself, or someone else, without taking in your accomplishments and the days around you?  Of course I know that many really do have a boss, but taking this thought in, is your own internal boss harder on you than your work boss ever could be?

I invite you to continuously ask yourself, “What’s happening now?”  My answer this morning, “Ah, judging myself instead of finding joy in this miraculous, sunny day without trainings or meetings.  Good to know!”

(1) – Definition: Shoulding, (verb) To continuously tell yourself that you should be doing something else, something more.

A picture of view and shadows.
Evening light in the mountains.

My 2016 Wish For The World

Everyday Mindfulness Inspiration Kindness

I hope you’ll allow me to begin 2016 out on a serious note.

There are things happening in the world, in this country, which sadden me greatly.  This need many have to hate, to view other people by their political views, religious beliefs, culture, or color and to judge them outright without knowing them, to determine they are the “other side” and therefore not worthy.  I am of the view that most of the hate stems from people who practice seeing other people as the “other side”, instead of fellow humans.  We are faced with this every day in the news through shootings, war, and violence that takes many forms.  Just the other day, I saw an example of this in my amazing little town, were someone felt the need to have a huge “Hippie Hater” sticker that covered the whole back window of their truck.  I admit my first reaction to that sticker was aversion and dislike, and my second reaction was sadness.  The question of “why” just hung in the air.

Why do we feel the need to hate other people?

Why do we need everyone to be like us?why

Why do we automatically fear people that are different from us?

Why can’t all types of people, just be?  Is the hippie hurting the cowboy hat wearing rancher – or vice versa?  Please note, this is an example taken from that one instance.  I know many, many cowboy hat wearing ranchers that are awesome, open minded people.

Instead of being disdainful of someone else’s views, why can’t we find it interesting that the person at the next table thinks a different way and just have a conversation about why they think that way?  It wouldn’t mean we had to change our mind, but it would mean that we had some respect for that person’s take on life; some understanding that we are all raised differently and have had different experiences that shape us; some regard for the fact that through our actions, our speech, and our stickers we are passing this hate on to our kids and we are hurting other innocent children.  What happens when a child sees that sticker and realizes his parents may be considered hippies, and begins to feel fear, begins to understand that for no specific reason this person could cause him or his family harm?  That's the beginning of raising someone that knows fear and then begins to hate...

This morning I was reading a story on Nelson Mandela from Daily Good, and in it they were talking about what made him a lifelong learner and how he learned from others.  Dr. Peter Rule researched Mandela and he determined that dialogue with others was crucial for Mandela.  He says, “A striking thing about Nelson Mandela’s story is how he refused to dehumanise ‘the other’. Whether the person was an opponent or enemy – even prison wardens or Afrikaner politicians – he insisted on seeing ‘the other’ as a person who he could acknowledge, understand, interact with and learn from.

It is a dangerous path of hate this world is following.  We must figure out a way to stop dehumanizing each other.  Even if what we learn is that we fundamentally disagree with someone, they are still a person and perhaps by talking to them we’ve clarified why we disagree with their viewpoint, while still understanding why they have that viewpoint.

This week I’ve had another reminder of how life is too short and very precious.  A reminder of how important it is to live each moment.  It makes me wonder why some think their life is any more important than someone else’s.  It makes me wonder why we’d waste our moments on fear, hatred, and dislike.

Each of us has one life.  My wish for the world is that in this one life we realize:

  • Hate is a wasted sentiment.
  • As humans we are more alike than not.
  • It doesn’t matter what our views are, we all want to be happy.
  • We all want our family and friends to be happy and healthy.
  • We all feel pain and fear.
  • Causing pain and fear are never the way to happiness.
  • But, most of all I hope people start to realize that we create our own fear.    The “other” people we are scared of aren’t causing that fear; our view of those people is causing the fear.

If there is to be any hope, we must start to treat every human as an individual, a person to be respected, someone who deserves a smile and a little understanding, someone who has as much right to happiness as we do.

to do: respect for others

Kindness Rules …. And Makes You Happy!

Kindness Self Compassion

When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.

- The 14th Dalai Lama –

 

The Dalai Lama is talking about feeling kindness toward others, but this isn’t just a pithy saying. The research shows that we can improve our own happiness by being kind to others and giving others our time and/or resources.

I’ll just mention a few of the studies completed. In one 2010 study published in The Journal of Social Psychology, authors Kathryn E. Buchanan and Anat Bardi, found that people who performed a daily act of kindness for 10 days received boosts of happiness.  In 2012, another study was published in the online Journal of Happiness Studies demonstrated that people who thought about the last time they spent money on someone else were happier than people who thought about the last time they spent money on themselves.  In early 2014, a study was published that was discussed in an article by Lauren Klein.  People in the study were on a waitlist to participate in Psychotherapy for issues “ranging from depression to anxiety and substance abuse.” They were asked to journal for two weeks about kindness or gratitude.  Those that completed the journal entries about gratitude and kindness, “enjoyed a higher percent of happy days, where they felt optimistic and expected the best.  They were also more satisfied with their lives, which they perceived to be meaningful, and they felt more connected with others each day.”

Based on this information, who wouldn’t want to take just a little time to be kinder to others?  While there are always plenty of people and places to donate money, we aren’t necessarily talking about giving.  I am talking about acting.  Very simple acts that one might take for granted.  For example, smiling back at the grocery store clerk, even if they didn’t smile at you, looking them in the eye and saying “Hi, how has your day been?”  I encourage you not to underestimate the power of a simple smile and a minute of your time to touch base with another human being.

Kids hugging
Kids hugging

There are a couple more bonuses to these actions.

Often when we make kind acts a part of your lives, we become more present.  What do I mean by this?  By taking the time to not dismiss the people who surround us every day, but to look for ways to help by holding a door or helping someone across the ice with their groceries, we become more aware of every present moment.  We pay more attention to the now, which means we live a little less in the past and future.  Note – the past and future are mostly focused on worry anyway!  We'll be talking a lot about living in the present on this blog!

Also, kind acts aren’t just for strangers.  They can also be a way to reconnect positively with kids and partners, families and friends.  Maybe offering someone a ride before they ask or taking the time to remember how they like their coffee or tea.

Are you inspired yet?  For parents it can be a great way to lead by example! Share with me below your recent act of kindness.  If you need some more inspiration, enjoy this Daily Good post which focuses on the heartwarming images of humanity, 34 Examples of Heart-Warming Humanity.

References

Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W. & Norton, M. I. (April 2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies. 13(2), 347-355.

Buchanan, K. E. & Bardi, A. (2010). Acts of kindness and acts of novelty affect life satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology. 150(3), 235-237.

Klein, L. (July 7, 2014). Can’t get therapy? Try gratitude and kindness? University of California Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/cant_get_therapy_try_gratitude_and_kindness.