We Rise By Lifting Others Up and the Science of Happiness
Did you know giving is good for you?
A 2006 study by J. Moll at the National Institute for Health found that when people give to charities it lights up the brain in regions associated with pleasure, creating a “warm glow” effect.
We have known for quite a while that exercising is good for you and creates positive chemical changes in the brain. It’s encouraging to have hard data that altruistic behavior also has a similar effect. The old adage of helping others and you help yourself is scientific truth!
People can find happiness and STAY happy if they create the right mental playing field. It has become a goal of mine in my practice of helping others to achieve this state. Helping others can be one way to get there. We all have our gifts. If you use your talents to help others you would be surprised at all the benefits you get back.
Conversely being in a state of negativity begets more negativity
Neural pathways are created and then strengthened by repetition; emotionally the result is an inclination of our resting mental state.
Author of Psych Pedia, Steven Parton explains how these closer synapses result in a generally more pessimistic outlook: “Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your [negative] proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought…the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.” Gloom soon outraces positivity.
Anger, in a way can become a sickness, a brooding, a drug of the mind. I encourage my clients to work at reducing their anger and negativity. The more you work at it, the more happy thoughts you have, naturally.
“Life is Painful, Suffering is Optional”
We all have our devastating challenges, death, divorce, separations, diseases, and addictions; being human we are all subjected to such events. However the mind is a powerful tool that we can use for own good.
There is joy in lifting others up. I encourage you to think deeply on this. When you are open to helping others I have seen time and time again, providently provided, the right tool for the right job suddenly at your disposal.
Currently I am on trips to serve in Africa and Virginia. Traveling is naturally tiring in some respects, but it fuels me up as I am encouraged seeing others experience growth.
So for today, I encourage you think about what you could do to help others. And then go ahead and do it.
Steve Brand, LCSW, ACSW, MSW/MPH, PC
Steven D. Brand – Psychotherapy Atlanta / Roswell GA
981 Canton Street
Building 12, Suite 215
Roswell, GA 30075
You have a few hours left of 2015 to reflect upon the year you’ve had. If you are like most people, it has some good, some bad, some ups and some downs. Before 2016 has time to take off like a bullet, I suggest you take a minute to relax and think about how to make this upcoming year better.
‘Mindfulness’ was my word for 2015. For 2016, it’s ‘Affirmations’.
“You will always feel what you dwell on.”
In the book The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry he discusses how your emotional life dictates your day to day.
“Whatever you dwell upon becomes increasingly prominent in your own mind.”
It’s called the Law of Attention, according to Newberry. For example, the more attention you give your health, it gets better. The more attention you focus on your spouse, the closer your relationship will become.
Executive Coaching practice, I have seen progress when using the tool of mentoring because the focus is placed squarely on the person. It’s the Law of Attention. Coaching is not a simple recipe; it’s a whole mind approach, yes there is homework. Having someone to walk beside you and lift you up is invaluable. Yes, you can do this. It’s affirmation.
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2
The link between depression and ruminating on negative thoughts is documented. That is why using affirmations is a way to heal and excel.
Here are a few positive affirmations for every day, find your favorites and tape them to your bathroom mirror.
Today I will be happy.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I have a purpose.
I have the power within to affect today for my good and others.
I am divinely guided and will make right decisions for my life and business.
I am successful and will continue to attract success to me.
I am courageous, and I will make good choices.
Today I will visualize my future goals and imagine myself achieving them.
I hope this has helped you formulate your resolutions. If you are ready to grow your business and make 2016 the best year ever, let’s have a conversation.
Steven D. Brand
Roswell Therapist and Executive Coach
Are you a business professional? Visit Steven’s new site dedicated to executive coaching for Atlanta business professionals.
Which One Are You?
There are two main mindsets that we can cultivate internally.
If you are unsure as to where you stand, ask yourself these questions.
Suppose you are in traffic and a guy in front of your very obviously cuts you off.
How do you react?
- Do you yell and honk?
- Do you think to yourself, “Why is he so much more important than me?”
- Do you speed up and try to show him your frustration?
- Or do you take a deep breath and let it go.
- Maybe you tell yourself, “perhaps there is a true emergency”, “maybe that’s an old man and he doesn’t realize what he did?” or “maybe they are having a bad day, they got some bad news today”.
We can feel pressure, in our jobs, in our marriages. The daily ‘get it done’ can feel overwhelming to the point that we feel like we are walking cans of gasoline, a spark, any spark can set us to flame.
Why are our wicks so short?
And can we lengthen them?
Absolutely. But it is a purposeful mindset. And actually it doesn’t have to be that time consuming to change it.
Start Your Day Right!
Positive affirmations are extremely effective, even in short supply. In the morning, before you even throw back the duvet, say the following to yourself:
“I can handle today, I have the power within me. I am adequate enough. I can do all things that come at me today.”
Put it on a post it note, stick it to your bathroom mirror if have trouble remembering.
It may not seem like much but did you know the way you talk yourself determines your current mood? In fact self-talk good or bad is influential beyond today. There are long-term effects to both mindsets. Seriously! Try it a few days, change your inner syntax to a more positive encouraging tone and you will be amazed at how effective small changes can be.
If you struggle finding any good at all in the world to be encouraged about start with a gratitude list. You maybe surprised that writing in a daily journal, three things you are thankful for can yield big results. If you can read this post, you can be grateful for your education, an internet connection, a computer to read from and a bed to sleep on. A fun game to play with your family if you are struggling with attitudes is to play the Gratitude Alphabet game, go down the alphabet and choose 26 things, i.e. A is for the Apple I had at lunch, B is for the blanket on my bed that keeps me warm, C is for coffee that is hot and delicious in morning, D is for my dog that is always cheerful no matter how mad I am. Do you get the picture?
And mornings aren’t the only time to try this. Before you go to sleep at night try clearing your head with these statements:
“Today is done. I will let it go. I have done my best.
Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is going to be great. I know I will succeed.”
Norman Vincent Peale wrote a great book about positive thinking, which is chock full of mind expanding quotes, I highly recommend it if you would like to learn more about mindfulness.
“When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you.” ― Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking
Abundance vs scarcity consciousness are two vastly different mindsets.
Like it or not, we all have a daily decision to make.
Which radio station will you tune into mentally today?
Why Is Success So Difficult?
Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having, except as a result of hard work. Booker T Washington
Success can feel elusive when we try to pin it down.
There are times when your heart speaks to you and asks, “Why are we not there yet?”
You are intelligent and have these great ideas, but why does success stump you?
Success is first and foremost not an overnight story like our 15 minutes of fame (or is it shorter these days) culture would have you believe. It takes dedication and focus. Yet, why is it so hard for us to stay on track for our dreams?
I believe success is first a mindset. A singular focus, which in the day to day can easily be tossed for the in your face decision making that has to done. Think of how many times in one day that an email, a text, a deadline, throws your whole day off track.
Here is why it is hard.
Putting your dreams in the forefront of your mind when life’s daily pressures physically feel excessive and overwhelming can be nearly impossible.
Accountability is the solution
Who is the encouraging voice in your life, helping you map the destination?
Who calls you to the carpet to put your helmet back on and get back out there?
Who reminds you of the end game when the heat is on?
Executive success coaching is a way to achieve your dreams. I meet hundreds of people every year and I am astonished at how many fantastic visions are out there. But it is as if there is a piece missing to the puzzle of success.
What is this missing piece? You have the brains, you have chutzpah, and you have the dedication but why does the ship never make it into port?
Focus on the process. Focus on the steps. Focus on the affirmation that you are making progress. Falling into a puddle and giving up is too easy in our comfortable world. We pat each other on the back and give ourselves a pass, again and again. But that little dream is still in there. It’s like a constant negative low lying fog, that keeps swirling around your feet but you can never put your finger on.
I encourage you, if you are ready to take put on your cleats and get your “A Game” on, I am ready to stand by your side and bring light to your path.
You may not have as many obstacles to advancement as you imagine. I have helped many executives get a razor sharp focus so that they can not only successfully manage the present but make huge strides to their goals. And that is a feeling like no other, when you are fully transparent working in the moment and actually feeling hope because of tangible progress. You get an elevated consciousness because you finally have the internal confirmation of what you have always felt deep down; that you are special and you have amazing dreams to fulfill.
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell
Steven D Brand travels around the globe assisting executives using success coaching in a variety of settings including offices and mountaintops. Steven D Brand offices are located in Historic Roswell, Georgia.
Smoking 25 Cigarettes a Day is as Harmful as Loneliness?
On the eve of my Mancation with some of friends of mine, a 7-day Timeless Trekker backpacking journey in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. I wanted to delve into how same sex friendships enhance mental and physical health. I believe that these friendships take “pressure” off the marriage to be “everything” because friends are meeting some of the social, psychological and spiritual needs.
Humans have been naturally social for thousands of years. Yet modern life has reduced the level of interaction between male friends in quality and quantity.
In the UK, according to a recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation, “10% of people often feel lonely, a third have a close friend or relative who they think is very lonely, and half think that people are getting lonelier in general.”
Massachusetts professors Olds and Schwartz in their writing, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century explains there is a current focus among adult men to build stronger marriages at the expense of other social connections. They point to a current tendency among adults to build stronger, more intimate marriages at the expense of almost all other social connections, (and) they observed a deep sense of loneliness. “Almost every father we spoke with explained that he had lost contact with most of his male friends,” they write. And lest you believe family is company enough, the 2005 Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging showed that family relationships have almost no impact on longevity. Friendships, by contrast, boosted life span as much as 22 percent.
Good friends are good for your health!
In 1988 a review of five studies showed that loneliness can be linked to an earlier death, “…people with fewer social relationships die earlier on average than those with more social relationships”
Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, in a study sponsored by Guinness, learned that to maintain a healthy level of interaction, men should hang out with other men, once or twice a week.
The report says that men, who maintain social groups are healthier, recover from illness more quickly and tend to be more generous. Despite the findings, two out of five men claim they manage to meet their friends only once a week and a further third struggle to catch up that frequently. Why is this?
Worldwide, the loneliest men are white American men. Is it because male friends are more acceptable in the other countries? Have we taken on the “that’s not manly to go hang out one on one with a guy friend”.
How many friends do you need?
About 4 or 5 male friends is a good start.
Dunbar explained, “Men, on average, spend just less than half of their social time with an inner circle of four to five close mates – and research suggests that this is linked directly to the banter that such a group inspires and its benefits.
Through empirical studies, it has been proven that laughter is much less likely to occur if a social circle becomes bigger than five – and, because of laughter’s ability to produce the endorphin surges that give a sense of well-being, men may be subconsciously drawn towards ‘hanging out’ in social circles of this size.”
And meeting often is a good way to ensure friendships. Once or twice a week is what Dunbar suggests, of course over drinks was probably Guinness’ hope. But think about it, how can you today take a step toward creating and maintaining guy friends.
Theme trips are one of them. Mancations or wilderness camping trips are great ways to connect with guy friends. Or goals, like a marathon that you can work out together and share some time.
Trust me it takes the pressure off the spouse to meet all your needs. Now go show this to your wife why its important for you to go camping!
If you supervise a difficult or toxic person, you know it holds a particular set of challenges. You are probably trying to walk the line between firmness and friendliness in your management and a challenging personality can easily knock your style off-kilter. Last month, we discussed suggestions for how to deal with a grumpy or negative coworker, this month, here are my suggestions for effective management styles for the dreaded office grouch.
- Pay Attention – Many times a person may act out because they feel helpless, bored or unheard. Listen to clues into how the person thinks, what problems he or she faces, and whether or not there is anything you can do about it. You may be able to adjust their responsibilities to keep them engaged and interested. Or they may just need someone to care enough to hear what they have to say.
- Be Firm – This means giving specific, constructive feedback when you see a performance or interpersonal problem that is affecting your company. Do not avoid conflict! Check out my blog from last year about how to effectively handle a confrontation.
- Set Consequences– Be clear about ramifications for destructive behavior and follow through. Avoid arbitrary punishments and inconsistent enforcement. Frame these conversations in a positive light, encouraging the employee to live up to the potential you see in them or they may miss out on certain privileges.
- Avoid Gossip – Talking to a fellow employee or subordinate about the difficult person will only create more strife in your office environment. Just. Don’t.
- Take Notes – Keep track of incidents and behaviors in your documentation. This will help you to be specific when you confront an employee. The notes will also be invaluable if you ever have the unfortunate task of letting a toxic employee go.
Every workplace has them. When I say “difficult coworker,” I bet a person immediately comes to mind. (If not… that difficult person may be you!) In this two part blog series, I will discuss different strategies for both employees and managers to handle toxic, negative, and irritable people. Next month, I’ll focus on managing a difficult people, but what if you are on the same level? Here are some strategies for dealing with an unpleasant co-worker:
- Manage your reaction. More than likely, you are not going to be able to change this person’s behavior, but you can control your own. A calm response, a pleasant disposition, an awareness of your thoughts and a peaceful attitude will neutralize an emotional, negative or mean actions by a coworker. You can easily take away their power by counteracting it with kindness.
- Establish boundaries. Negative thinkers, complainers and reactive people are usually determined to drag you down too. Be proactive, find healthy ways to keep your distance, like changing your lunch hour to avoid long interactions. Or set boundaries of what you will and will not discuss with that person, and clearly and kindly letting them know if the topic comes up.
- Be empathetic. Even if you disagree with the behavior of a co-worker, you are less likely to lose your cool if you try to imagine where they are coming from. They may have a difficult family situation, a traumatic past, or a current health problem that is producing stress. Understanding will help you be kind when kindness does not seem merited.
These are just a few of the ways you can make your work with a difficult person more manageable. In my role as an Executive Success Coach, I can train you and your employees to foster a great environment in your workplace. Email me to get started, firstname.lastname@example.org
Workplace issues require complex problem-solving skills because they involve multiple people, systems and ultimately a company’s bottom line. Here are my suggestions for effective problem solving in the workplace:
1. Meet. Find out who the problem and potential solutions will effect and include each party in the solution making process. Try to include the out-of-the box thinkers in your organization.
2. State. Before you begin to solve the problem, everyone involved in creating a solution needs to have a clear understanding of the issue and its ramifications for your company.
3. List. As a group, make a list of possible solutions. Be sure to include ideas that seem off the wall, they may open the door to innovation. Do not discuss the merits of each at this point just get them on the table.
4. Evaluate. This step may be the most crucial and laborious. It may require a second meeting to allow each party to research possible solutions, discuss ideas with experts or research case studies other companies with similar issues. For more complex problems, a consultant or research firm might be contacted.
5. Select, Document and Implement. Whether you put it to a vote or leave it up to a manager to decide, a good evaluation has already paved the way for a great decision. Be sure to put the decision in writing and give all parties access. After that, it is time to get to work!
6. Review. Your decision should include a timeline for evaluation and modification of the original goal. The best problem-solvers are the ones who can recognize when they have made a less favorable decision and are willing to go back and modify it.
If you have reached an impasse in your organization, my experience in executive coaching, group dynamics, and professional personnel training will be a valuable asset for your team problem-solving process. Contact me at 770-641-8726 to get started.
“Mindfulness” seems to be a buzzword in the media lately. It is given credit for everything from weight loss to stress reduction. It is the subject of numerous studies, including one released this month that indicates mindfulness has a positive effect on physical health. So, what is it?
It is simply the idea of observing the present, including your inner thoughts and your outer surroundings. As a spiritual and psychological concept – mindfulness is nothing new! People often plow through the day reacting to external stimuli or a mental hamster wheel. Awareness of this can be a tremendous help in personal growth, relationships, and stress reduction.
Here are a few ways to train your brain to be more mindful:
1. Develop a quiet discipline. Begin your day with a few minutes of silent meditation, journaling, or prayer. Go for a run, walk in the park, or just sit in your car on a lunch break. During these breaks, begin observing your thought patterns and triggers and mentally prepare for stressful stimuli.
2. Focus. Observe colors, flavors, sounds and surfaces. Try it tonight at the dinner table. Don’t just shovel in your food, take notice of every aspect of that steak and sweet potato I hope you are having for dinner– the juices, the aromas, the textures, the sweetness, the temperature. (Sorry… am I making you hungry?) Take notice how they influence your thoughts.
3. Count to Five. An important aspect of mindfulness is to be a conscious observer, instead of a participant, in your feelings. For example, if something makes you angry, instead of succumbing to the anger, take a moment to observe it. Notice your heart rate, your thoughts, or your clenched fist. I admit, this may not come easily at first, but if you begin this practice in simple situations, eventually you will advance.
While mindfulness is effective, it will not resolve major mental health problems or complicated family issues. If you would like to begin a deeper counseling or coaching journey, contact me for an appointment at (770) 641-8726.
Thanks for reading,
Steven D Brand
Psychotherapist and Life Coach