Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mastering The Art Of Gratitude

Mastering the Art of Gratitude

Are you hearing and reading a lot about gratitude lately? How do you feel when you hear "be grateful"? Grateful for the small things in life, thankful for the chance for growth from painful experience - does hearing that irritate you sometimes?

My mom has not been a good cook, to put it mildly. When I did not empty my plate, she used to say: "The people in the third world would be grateful for the food." And how often did grown-ups tell you to say "thank you" when you were still a kid. 

The Case Of Fake Gratitude

I am convinced that manners are a great cultural technology and helpful to get along with each other. But saying "thank you" automatically, as a reflex makes the word an empty shell. 

Why should people not express when they don´t like a present? Shouldn´t the goal be to express your emotions without fear of hurting someone else? 

And how about non-verbal expression? When my eyes light up, isn´t that enough?

Many people had internalized the reflex of "thank you" so much that they even say it when they did something for someone else or a person has been rude. 

The true gratitude challenge

The first step is to observe all of the times you thank someone. In which situation do you say "thank you"? For what do you thank people? Do you MEAN it?

For a week, you could only thank people when you mean it, not because it is expected. I will admit, that you might come across a bit anti-social. I will say that I enjoyed the task (:

We do not like to be told what to do. It creates resistance. That is normal, for nobody wants to follow orders.

He alone is free who lives with free consent under the entire guidance of reason. - Baruch Spinoza

Why we like good manners

What do we like about manners? If I do something polite for someone, I might get a smile in return or a "thank you." I feel acknowledged. My good manners and politeness create an echo. I thank you and you, smile at me. You will have a better opinion of me.

Am I polite because I am feeling grateful or to create an echo and motivate you to a positive response?

What if someone is in a rush or rude and just ignores me? Will I be disappointed? Will I become judgemental and think something along the line of
  • This person has bad manners
  • What did I do to that person to react like this?

When you analyze these thoughts, you will come to the conclusion that you need that "thank you" to feel good and acknowledged. If I exaggerated I little bit, I could say: Your self-esteem depends on it. 

What if nobody acknowledges your good manners and politeness for a whole day? Or week? Would you question yourself?

If it´s a good idea to depend on this kind of social acknowledgment is a question for another day.

What it is not is gratitude. 

Gratitude is an attitude

Gratitude is crucial. It´s an essential component of happiness. Positive thoughts attract positive outcomes. Happy people achieve more.

In my life, gratitude is of paramount importance.

Manners are not gratitude. Doing something to get something in return is not gratitude. Gratitude is without expectation. It is not a reflex, a meaningless automatism

Gratitude is the way you face the world and how you connect with it.

To me, gratitude is related to not taking things for granted.

You probably never suffered from hunger in your life. Or thirst. Clean water is available through the taps in your bathroom, kitchen and in your shower. You probably were never homeless and always had a roof over your head.

Throughout your life, there was probably always someone who loved you.

We can be grateful for what we have, even though we have it every day. I could never relate to the quote: "You only know how much something means to you when you have lost it."

I am grateful every day for things that I always had. 

Gratitude for pain

Yes, we learn a lot from painful experiences. Through them, we became who we are now. Still, I would never tell people to be grateful for pain. That would be a bit cynical.

The feeling of gratefulness for negative experiences only manifests in retrospective. 

Mindfulness and gratitude

I have a fantastic exercise for you. This exercise is also a mindfulness practice. 

Exercise: Gift of Gratitude 

During the two weeks, analyze in which moments are fully "there." Maybe a flower (or cool car) catches your eye? Or is your lunch tasty? Or perhaps when you look into the face of someone you love?

Each time, pause for 30 seconds and explore it with all of your senses. Be only at the moment and experience your emotions, breathing and "it." 

Before you go to sleep, let the day pass in front of your eyes. Retrieve the memories, relive them. You will be amazed that you will be able to recall moments that did not stand out. Enjoy the bath in the abundance of the memories of the day. 

After two weeks, reflect. What has changed since you started the exercise? What did you learn about yourself? What was the impact?

Did you feel gratitude? How does gratitude feel for you?

Maybe you decide that you will continue this exercise. Or you might want to come back to it from time to time. 

I feel grateful for my loyal community!

New Article about Empathy Misconceptions

My newest article can be found in the Emotional Intelligence Hub

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Myth Of Multitasking

Why multitasking is not working

Why Multitasking Is Not WorkingYou are on the phone with your client when you get the notification that your boss just sent a time-critical e-mail. You don't want to keep your boss waiting, so you reply to his e-mail while you're still in the conversation with your client.

Soon you receive another e-mail from your boss. Only this time he sounds impatient.  Apparently, you were only addressing two of the three points of his message. Then you realize that you forgot what the client said about his deadlines.  You will have to call your client again and ask him to repeat the information.

Or maybe you are the boss. Good for you because in that case, people will likely only complain behind your back.

You and me, we've all been in similar situations.

For the longest time, we have been told that as highly efficient human beings we have to be able to multitask and adapt to the demands of an increasingly stressful work environment and new technologies.

Multitasking does not describe a situation when we are idling. For instance, it does not apply if we are on hold and we check our e-mail inbox while we are waiting for our conversation partner

But does multitasking really lead to an increase in productiveness?

1. Multitasking leads to more mistakes

In general, multitasking leads to making more mistakes. Correcting those mistakes often takes more time than focusing on a task in the first place.

A current example is Pokémon Go. Recent studies suggest that the cognitive abilities of people who are hunting monsters while driving their cars are comparable to those of a 10 to 30 year older person.

The problem increases when we are trying to do tasks that use the same cognitive resources. This is why it is legal to use hands-free devices while driving. Studies have shown that people who are engaged in a phone conversation overlook more than double the amount of traffic signs than individuals who are not talking on the phone. They also react slower in critical situations.

In the example of the multitasker that is talking to his client and tries to read it or even answer his e-mails at the same time, it is likely that he will miss part of the conversation. Potentially important parts.

It is highly frustrating when someone replies to your message and obviously has read only half of your e-mail. The same applies to the person on the phone.  Your client will likely not be happy if they have to repeat information they´ve already given you.

In a conversation, the most important information are often not the facts but the emotion of your conversation partner. The things that are not being said. It is more than unlikely that you would be able to understand the emotions of the person you are talking to if you are reading and replying to e-mails at the same time.

2. Multitasking leads to stress

Not only is job burnout a huge problem that is on the rise and presents a huge health threat. Stress is also the happiness killer number one.

You can read my detailed article about job burnout, consequences, and remedies here. AVOIDING JOB BURNOUT

Stress can lead to severe mental and physical issues. If you are stressed at your workplace it will sooner or later also result in problems in your personal relationships.

Unhappy, stressed out people do not deliver great results.

3. Scientific proof and multitasking

What has been proven is that automatic tasks run smooth in multitasking mode. The reason for that is that our frontal lobe is not required to fulfill these duties and therefore does not require resources needed for creative thinking.

Psychologists of the renowned Standford University show in the Clifford Nass study that multitaskers have a hard to time to separate relevant from irrelevant facts. Apparently, they spread their attention to all information alike and lose the ability to focus on the important points.

Some go as far as saying that multitasking can damage your career. I tend to agree.


Multitasking is inefficient. You will achieve the best results if you do one thing at a time and you do it properly. Giving the task at hand your full attention helps you to avoid unnecessary and time costly mistakes.

Communication and relationships benefit from undivided attention as well.

Naturally, this is not always possible in these times that require us to focus on several sources of information at once.

But even small changes can bring relief. For instance, turn off push notifications and check your e-mails manually every 15 or 30 minutes. Shut off your phone while you are working on an important task that requires your cognitive abilities.

Todo lists help to focus on important tasks - most of the time notifications from social networks are not one of them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interview with Don Kerr

"The person, not the persona". 

Canadian Writer, Don Kerr, asked me for an interview to learn about the private person Aurorasa. If, and only if, you want to learn more about me, you can read the interview here.

About Don Kerr

A brand creation, development, and marketing communication consultant with 30-years of relevant experience to creating powerful connections between corporations and their customers. His work is founded upon establishing a compelling emotional connection between a brand and its stakeholders revolving around three principles of effective brand expression: Clarity. Simplicity. Wit.

Leading branding efforts include organizations such as Wal-Mart, Château des Charmes, Kraft, Pep Boys Auto, McDonald’s and Disney.

He is also the creator of the Brand Clarity™ workshop and has been a brand leader for companies in North America, the UK, South America, and Asia. 

A copywriter by craft, he also creates effective written communication for clients in all media including advertising, packaging, social media, and web. 

Clients on this front include Tim Horton’s, Fuji Film, Astro Yogurt, General Electric and Irving Paper. He was also instrumental in introducing the first-known use of QR coding on alcohol packaging in North America.

I recommend you check out his other work, he is a gifted writer and touches some delicate issues.

Please consider supporting the crowdfunding campaign for his new book.

Twitter @dkridingshotgun