Check out the research i refer to in the video here:
Norman Cousins, an MD, was diagnosed with a potentially fatal autoimmune disease in the 1970s and he wrote a book called Anatomy of an Illness documenting his full recovery. He attributed his recovery to two particular interventions. One was massive doses of vitamin c and the other is laughter. Through his work he is credited with being one of the originators of the mind-body concept. He clearly demonstrated the importance of laughter in the healing process.
Since then the impact of laughter has been investigated by other scientists including a Dr Beck, a psychoneuroimmunology researcher from Loma Linda University in California. He demonstrated the powerful positive impacts of laughter on our immune system; he found that repetitious GENUINE laughter, which he calls Laughercise, causes the body to respond in a way similar to moderate physical exercise – enhancing your mood, decreasing stress hormones, enhance immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol (HDL).
So if for whatever reason you cannot exercise today then just spend 20 to 30 minutes having a good belly laugh. This of course reminds us to not take ourselves or life too seriously…to have an attitude of mild amusement with the possibility of bursting into deep raucous laughter at a moment’s notice…to be able to laugh at yourself (in a respectful and compassionate way) is a real sign of emotional maturity and inner security.
Also research shows that mums who laugh before breastfeeding produce milk with higher levels of melatonin which enhances relaxation and builds the baby’s immune system against eczema and other allergic reactions
To be authentic requires self-awareness and self acceptance when we are adults. As babies and very young children we are naturally authentic, it is the only way we can be, it is our natural state. Through our conditioning and social expectations we compromise ourselves and dilute this authenticity to please others and to fit in. However, the real You is still inside and can be brought back out into the world unconditionally at any time if you so choose.
What does it mean to be authentic? It means not lying, not blaming, being personally responsible for You. Relating to yourself in a positive and healthy way. Believing in yourself; opening your heart to those around you. It means being present, strong, open, honest, genuine, sincere, able to challenge appropriately, encouraging others to be themselves and be the best they can be. You are not faking it or wearing a mask, not trying to impress, to be right, to prove yourself to anyone or trying to be something else; you are just being who you are – and if you do not really know who that is then make it your sole priority to sort that out as all else is limited by your inability to be authentic.
You want to show up fully in this life on a daily basis and you can do that only to the extent that you accept and know yourself. Being real demands that you be present which demands that you trust yourself to be able to handle whatever life has to offer you. The alternative to being authentic is to be ruled by your ego which is always self destructive. So, in the words of William Shakespeare “to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
We all know how good it is for the body and our health to smile, I mean really smile and some people say if you don’t feel like smiling then force yourself to so that sooner or later it will turn into a real smile.
Michigan State University have done research on the impact smiling has on our physiology. They have found that a fake or insincere smile can actually worsen our already low mood. So if you cannot smile for real then don’t bother smiling at all. They examined the effects of fake smiling or what they called ‘surface acting’, and compared it with ‘deep acting’, or genuine smiling by recalling pleasant memories or positive self talk. In their research they found that those who engaged in surface acting or “Smiling for the sake of smiling” experienced greater emotional exhaustion and withdrawal, while those who smiled as a result of cultivating positive thoughts improved their mood and withdrew less.
A simple conclusion here is to endeavour to deep act, to be sincere, smile because you mean it…..you can create that smile from within by how you focus your thinking and consequently your feelings.
There is a caveat here; while deep acting seemed to improve mood in the short-term, the researchers did note that there is a risk of feeling inauthentic if you, over a long period of time, are trying to cultivate positive feelings at the expense of feeling what is already there within you. Denial of your true state is never a clever long term strategy! Click on the links to get more detail on the research.
Our fears and fantasies are all in the head. Wishing or dreaming for a better future, having dreams and hopes are no guarantee of them being realised. Dreaming and thinking about what you would love to be doing is no guarantee that it will happen, if you stay in the head then little changes. To manifest your dreams or anything like them you need to be brave, bold, and step into the unknown i.e. you need to open up, be present and engage with life from the heart, only then are you in the now where all your creativity and power is and where the right action can be taken, the action that is fuelled and informed by the heart which is the very essence of your true nature, your very being.
When you do this you are on the path of the heart and you are in the process of realising your hearts desire, your dreams or something even better that the head could not or would not conceive of.
Dreaming about the future is no more productive than regretting the past or fearing the future, as it is all still head based. To create, change, or transform our situations we need to do things differently, we need to operate and act from a different level i.e. the heart. From here all is revealed, bit by bit as and when it is appropriate and not when the head dictates or demands. In the heart space, which is unflinching, strong, compassionate and powerful, the truth of any situation is unavoidable and things get resolved one way or another.
When we choose to be present, to be in our bodies and heart, we have access to our power and our creativity, we let our hearts lead us into the next move every time and in this way we are living in complete trust and openness, which is the most liberating, inspiring, empowering and challenging experience there is. In this way we achieve our deepest desires and or true passions in life.
Following on the last post I wanted to explore the issue of trust in the workplace and how this can be easily built across all levels of an organisation. Too often trust is assumed. Little more than lip service is paid to the importance of trust in the workplace. This is the result of people not feeling safe or comfortable enough to be themselves at work. They wear a mask or front appearing to be what they believe others expect of them or simply to hide a self-perceived weakness or insecurity (this is portrayed brilliantly by Ricky Gervais as the office manager in the sitcom The Office). Their lack of trust in themselves creates a barrier between them and their team. While this is obvious stuff, it is far more prevalent than many care to admit. Much of it is very subtle and goes unnoticed by management. The consequences of this include low grade tension, minor conflicts, cliques, territorial thinking, poor or limited collaboration, gossip and politicking, right up to bullying, emotional and physical abuse, underperformance, excessive absenteeism, stress and related legal consequences.
The above is a small sample of the price an organisation can pay for poor management and leadership. The amazing thing is that such incidents can be minimised, if not eradicated, by taking a few simple steps across the organisation. As usual real change rests with people at the top, if they do not model the change they wish to see in their people throughout the organisation then no lasting positive change will happen. Trust is such a fundamental element in the smooth and effective performance of any organisation that without it no entity can survive long-term. This is true for a marriage as it is for a multinational.
So what are the simple steps any good manager or leader will take to encourage a trusting environment:
First, know thyself. The first rule of leadership and good management is know your primary resource inside out i.e. You. You will only be able to manage and lead others to the extent that you are doing this for yourself. Raise and passionately work on your self awareness. You only ever have control over what you are aware of, so to expand your area of influence and depth of impact, enhance your awareness.
Second, talk less, do more. Talk is cheap and easy. You need to not only say the right thing but also do it, and be seen to do it. Your actions must be aligned to your message. If you have to preach, then make sure you practice it every day.
Third, never react. As a manager or leader you need to demonstrate real presence and poise. This requires self-awareness and emotional maturity or as coined by Harvard Psychologist Daniel Goleman ‘emotional intelligence’. Without this you are basically still the spotty insecure, hypersensitive 16 year old in an expensive suit trying to fake it in the adult realm.
Fourth, demonstrate trust through your words and actions. This can only be done effectively if you are practicing the first three steps and is dealt with comprehensively in the previous post (No one to Trust). This final step states that you have to embody trust; be open with people, be genuine in your interactions, express yourself honestly and respectfully, listen to others, seek feedback, make it your intention to build others irrespective of their position, in other words what people see and how they experience you is really who you are. People feel you are being genuine whenever you interact with them.
These steps require you as a manager or leader to have confidence in yourself to be able to process whatever others present to you without taking it personally. Of course you are still required to make tough decisions, challenge others when needed and keep others accountable, including yourself. But such actions become easier and more accepted by the team when they are part of the overall approach outlined above.
As a leader or manager in a family or in company, you owe it to yourself and those around you to employ these steps with heart and make them your raison detre.
For more on this topic check out http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/trust-the-new-workplace-currency/201110/5-things-your-staff-wants-you-know
We all seek in our own way through recognition, success, wealth, secure relationships, creative expression, the celebrity lifestyle, finding our purpose in life, religion or being spiritually connected. Ultimately, we are all are seeking the same things; love, peace, acceptance, security. The seeker is present in each of us and drives us incessantly, never content and never at peace.
It is like the game of hide and seek children play. We still play this game everyday. We invest so much energy in seeking out happiness, love, security in the drama and noise of life. Many believe they need to find themselves, as if they were lost and living in some parallel universe. This constant searching is draining and frustrating. All the time we are looking in the wrong places, ensuring that what we seek remains hidden.
Regardless of how we seek, be it through money or power etc, what we seek is and always has been right in front of us. Well, more accurately right inside us, closer to us than anything outside of us could ever be. What we seek is in us. We are what we seek. Somehow we forgot this and got caught up in the game of life trying to find what we thought we had lost. So what can we do to end the incessant seeking? Just STOP!
Stop searching, stop seeking, just stop, drop anchor and be still. Begin to observe yourself and notice how dominant the urges or voices in the head are. This is the ego. The seeker is an aspect of the ego and is designed to keep the ego strong. The seeker does not want us to drop anchor and be still. It wants to keep travelling, keep on keeping on!
If you are always looking and searching, hoping things will be better so that you can then be happy, seeking the perfect partner, career, body or home then you will always be at the mercy of your deep seated insecurities i.e. the ego. When you begin to pay close attention to how the ego influences you, you see how you have been controlled by the ego, who is so mad and insecure you wouldn’t let it take care of a dead rat.
So what does it mean to drop anchor? Your anchor is your presence and you drop it by being in your heart, like a pebble falling into a clear, still pond. Bring your attention to your heart space, breath into it and let go of all doing and thinking as you step into your heart, as you drop anchor and be still. The ego does not and cannot influence you when you are anchored in the heart, you are beyond ego and have access to all you truly desire.
Dropping anchor gives you the space to see the truth of who you are. Slow down and really see. Look from the inside out, all you are searching for is and always has been inside you. I mean this in a very practical way. It may be you are afraid to stop in case you feel the fear or hurt you have been trying to escape from. But know this, such fears and hurts are the very doorways back home, back to your roots, the love and peace all of us crave. We need to go through our own ego created shit to get to the diamond that we are. It is there, waiting for us to stop, turn inside and show up.
You may think this is all a bit too deep or mad, either way you owe it to yourself to test it out. So shut up, relax, focus inwards, feel the feelings and sensations inside the body, focus on your heart-space in the centre of your chest, feel without judgement and trust in whatever comes up and allow this space to expand, be present to it, with practice and patience this way of being with yourself will bring greater peace and clarity inside which will be reflected in your life outside. A simple way to remember all this and to stay closer to your heart is to regularly tell your ego-mind to “Drop It”, no more worrying, analysing, obsessing, etc…..just drop it!
A recent documentary on BBC 2 called Horizon: The Nine Months That Made You highlighted some fascinating research on how some chronic diseases that strongly influence lifespan in humans, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, can be determined by birth weight. This research shows that “early development in the womb establishes our constitution for the rest of our lives, including our ability to cope with negative situations and illnesses” (www.thebarkertheory.org)
In other words that mars bar you ate today or the miso soup you had for breakfast (how sad are you!) have less impact on your long term health than you may have thought. So maybe we should forget about the gym and the treadmill, throw out the skipping rope and that feckin giant exercise ball, burn the trampoline and shred the diet plans, relax and have another full fat latte with a piece of pecan pie (nice!).
I am not saying give up and let your self develop into a human walrus, what I think we can take from this research is the fact that to obsess about physical well being, (most of us do obsess about this stuff in some way, often in subtle ways – it couldn’t just be me!) body image and how others perceive our physicality is not only stressful, but detrimental to our long term mental health, which in turn only exacerbates our impending health issues. All good news so far!
We may have known smokers who lived a relatively healthy life well into their 70s and 80s, and others who died of a stroke or heart attack in their mid-fifties and sixties in spite of living a seemingly healthy and disciplined life, regularly exercising and watching what they ate. I am no scientist (well actually I am but it is agricultural science, and I don’t think the eating habits of cows and pigs are of much help here!) but even I know that our bodies are intuitively aware of what is good to eat. When we listen to our bodies closely we are more successful at living healthy and fit lives.
There are massive industries built on manipulating and managing our insecurities about our physicality. Pushing creams and pills that promise to transform our bodies. Much of what they say and sell is of limited value if any. The fact is we are all going to die and we have little, if any, control on how and when that will happen. Our genetic makeup and the quality of our life in the womb largely determine the quality and length of our post-birth life. This is all good news by the way!
You may be thinking “anything I do is pointless, my health is pre-determined before I can do anything about it so why bother jogging or eating tonnes of broccoli?!”…..and you are right. You should only go jogging if you enjoy it, swim if you love it, eat broccoli if you like the stuff, after-all life is not an endurance test, it is not about starving yourself or driving yourself on a treadmill to feel and look good at some distant point in the future (which never actually arrives anyway). This research is telling us to focus on what we can influence and embrace our lives with real passion and appreciation. Realise how vulnerable and precious you really are, how amazing this life is, and that you manage to get born and grow at all!
Spot the magic in you and the wonder of your body that it can take so much hardship on a daily basis and still serve you beautifully. Knowing that you are not your body, that it is a vessel through which to experience life, allows you to detach from it and learn to accept the body as a gift, a tool, a flawed and precious vase that holds your essence, your soul, as you experience life. We need the body to live and to experience life.
If we can have a relationship with the body that not only honours it, but celebrates it, appreciates it and genuinely accepts it for what it was intended then our fears, insecurities and obsessions around looking and feeling good will lessen, enabling us to be very present in the body and therefore, in life………..so that when we inevitably die, we can do so with a smile on our face, a cigarette in one hand (menthol of course!) and a half eaten mars bar in the other.