15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

June 18, 2017 • 6 minute read • by Saeed


“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect.” ~ Unknown

Over the last couple of decades, numerous studies have shown a positive relationship between emotionally intelligent leadership and employee satisfaction, engagement, retention, and performance.

The higher up the ladder you are, the more people you impact. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates throughout the organization. They set the emotional tone for the organizational culture. Here are 15 traits that every leader should demonstrate that are indispensible to setting an atmosphere throughout the organization that is conducive to productivity and morale. They are also key milestones on your journey to emotional intelligence mastery.

1.    Encourage open communication: When you get ideas and suggestions from colleagues or your team, acknowledge them. Ten words or less, such as, “I appreciate the heads up,” or, “Thank you, that update helped me,” does a lot to encourage further information, whereas a ringing silence or lack of response telegraphs apathy, which tends to shut people down.

2.    Err on the side of over communicating: When you decide to ignore input or recommendations, certainly ones you solicited, take a moment to explain. Absent that, people will read their own story into your silence, which may be: s/he doesn’t want my input, so I’m not going to provide it.

3.    Invest in relationships: Over time, go a level deeper of getting to know your people by investing in some one-on-one time with them, outside of the context of immediate tasks or projects.

4.    Let people get to know you: People want to know you. Don’t hesitate to share a story or to talk about yourself in a way that shows something about your character, as context and time permit.

5.    Understand personalities and motivations: It’s good to know your colleagues. How much do you really know? Make sure to ask questions about others — both work-related and on a human level. Show caring and concern about others when it’s heartfelt.

6.    Attention is the currency of all relationships: Listen hard. Watch distractions, like doing other things while people are talking to you.

7.    Know when to use kid gloves: Consider making extra effort to be gentle with people who are easily intimidated, or less prone to go “toe to toe.”

8.    Have an open door: Leaders who sit behind a closed door all day long become cut off from those they lead. Their teams can become antsy because they rarely see their leader and feel like they’re imposing on him/her when they need to talk. Decide to have an open door when it comes to hearing out your team. Give them permission to approach at any time.

9.    Smile more: Facial expressions say a lot. A scowling or stone-faced leader does not say: “I’m approachable! Come, let me know what you need and what’s happening.” Rather it tells those you lead to stay away and don’t bother me. Make the choice to smile more often than not. Let your team know they can approach you by welcoming them with a smile.

10.  Share your mistakes and vulnerabilities: One thing exceptional leaders know is that mistakes need to be recognized. And they’re willing to go first with their mistakes. Approachable leaders open up about the mistakes they have made. They also let their team know where the mistakes have led. By being open about past mistakes, you encourage others to share their trials with you. Doing so allows you to help guide them through the tough times.

11. Know your team members’ names: Some leaders have large staffs. In these environments, it can be hard to learn team members names. Yet the best, and most approachable, leaders know that knowing the names of their teams make them more personable. When you begin to make the effort to learn names, people will see your willingness to get to know them. This makes them see you as a more effective leader.

12. Share the glory: You will find there are leaders who hog all of the glory for a job well done. You will also find that these leaders are rarely the ones that have credibility with their teams. Rather, the leaders who share the glory are the ones who are seen as fair leaders and people rally around them. Don’t hog the praise for yourself. Pass it around to the ones who really helped your organization get to where it’s trying to go.

13. Tell more stories: Stories have a great power. They draw people in and they help people remember details. Stories can also help make you a more effective communicator. People are drawn to stories. Stories click with others. And stories create community when done right. Tell stories that encourage your team to be a community.

14. Practice positive thinking: There are positive people and then there are negative people. Generally, people are drawn to those with a positive worldview rather than those who hold a negative worldview. Having a negative outlook will make others see you in a negative light. Change your perspective and begin to think positively. Share this with others and they will see you as a more positive and effective leader.

15. Initiate chit-chat: Effective leaders are willing to sit down and chat with those they lead. Whether it’s at the lunch table or at the front door or at a community event. When leaders initiate conversations with others they are seen as approachable. They open the doors to conversations They make the first move so others can feel more comfortable.

As a leader, you must have a solid understanding of how your emotions and actions affect your team. Taking the time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills will pay off in dividends in the long run. In the meantime, if you practice the skills highlighted above, you will begin your journey towards emotional intelligence mastery.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

3 Most Important Deposits For Your Career Bank Account

June 16, 2017 •  4 minute read • by Saeed


“Learn from the past, live in the present, and create your future.”~  Joel Brown

We all know how a regular bank account works. We make deposits, save up money, and when we need that money later, we withdraw from it.

Your career bank account works the same way. You make certain investments in it and over time, you build up your career capital.

You can make career deposits or career withdrawals (toxic behaviors) and with each you either build or take away from your career capital.

Just like any investment, the building of your underlying value and fidelity as a professional helps you build career capital.

A recently conducted Accenture Survey found that more than 89 percent of professionals believe building their career capital is the key to success in the workplace.

Today’s worker has to dig deeper, much deeper to find his or her underlying value and to make daily deposits in his or her career bank account. Here are three of the most important investments you can make:

  1. Invest in your core competencies:

In a nutshell, competencies are the combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors.

  • Knowledge is information developed or learned through experience, study or inquiry. Increase your knowledge relentlessly.
  • Skill is the result of repeatedly applying knowledge or ability. Continually improve them to perfection.
  • Ability is an innate potential to perform mental and physical actions or tasks. Use these to your optimum advantage to achieve your goals.
  • Behavior is the observable reaction of an individual to a certain situation. Always keep these positive.

You are hired for your competencies. This is the gateway to achieve higher levels of performance. Knowledge, skills, abilities and behavior are the key ingredients of your career capital investment portfolio. You can achieve mastery over the market like Warren Buffet by blending these and channeling them towards your career goals.

  1. Invest in your relationships:

Your network is one of the most important career assets you have. If investment in real estate is all about location, location, location, then investment in your career may well be about relationships, relationships, relationships. Nurture them and they will nurture you. The surest way to burn career capital is to burn bridges. As a rule, try never to burn any.

  1. Invest in your brand:

If you watch a Nike commercial, the last thing you’ll see is a reference to shoe laces and leather. Apple commercials never boast about their monitors or keyboards. Rather, what you see is an association: great athletes in the case of Nike and great thinkers in the case of Apple. To develop your personal brand, you must ask yourself what you wish for people to associate with you when they think of your name. A strong personal brand is reliant upon a strong narrative. As an exercise, sit down and write your own story (your past and your future) and then align everything you do with that story.

Summary

Employees and jobseekers know that to advance, they must invest in the appropriate education, training, and skills. Employers know that training provides a return on their investment in retention and job satisfaction. But that is not nearly enough. As you go through your journey, you’ll find that the foremost rule of the road is that career tracks are no longer linear. If there was ever a yellow brick road, it has been replaced by interconnected webs of opportunity, exposure and experience where a willingness to learn, to grow and to adapt to a brave and yet uncharted new world gain the greatest returns on investment. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content and Photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

June 1, 2017 •  6 minute read • by Saeed


“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” ~ Don Vito Corleone

Negotiation plays a major role in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. Most people think negotiating is the same as compromising. They are wrong. Successful negotiation is an art form that comes naturally to some, but must be learned by most. Whether it’s a salary increase or where you’ll spend your next family vacation, if you want to get far in your career and in your life, you have to learn to master the art of negotiation.

A skilled negotiator needs to demonstrate at least 10 essential traits:

1.     Empathy

2.     Responsibility

3.     Respect

4.     Flexibility

5.     Fairness

6.     Personal Integrity

7.     Patience

8.     Self discipline

9.     Humor

10. Stamina

Now, let’s break down the essential skills you need that enhance or impede any negotiation process.

1.     Skilled negotiators are well prepared. Preparation is the single most important element to successful negotiations. Careful preparation prior to the discussion lays the foundation for the desired outcome. Understanding the issues prior to discussing them develops inner confidence. That is the key to developing a position of strength. It also provides a complete and inclusive bank of knowledge to support and reinforce your position.

There are always trade-offs in negotiations. It is essential that you clearly define your limits. Identify the intended objective and set limits to achieve the objective. Lack of preparation will most often result in unexpected outcomes that may be far less than anticipated and in some cases counter-productive to the goal and purpose of the negotiation process.

2.     Skilled negotiators are skilled communicators. Effective communication plays a fundamental role in any interaction and is essential to successful negotiations. Effective communication skills include: the ability to listen and understand the intended message of the sender, clearly expressing your own thoughts and ideas in a way that is easily followed and understood by others, and accurately interpreting the messages expressed through body language. Discuss the concept in an open, receptive manner that allows the other side to hear and understand the message and appropriately respond to that message in a constructive way. Clarity is key: Present the issues clearly and check for understanding.  Listen actively. Clear your mind of pre-judgment and distraction so you can actively listen to the other person.

Effective communication is not limited to what say and hear. It also includes body language – messages or responses sent through facial expressions, eyes and body. Correctly interpreting body language is challenging, yet necessary to accurately understand the message delivered by the sender. For your part, pay attention to your posture. Make sure that your body language does not signal closed reception. Make direct eye contact with the speaker so that they know they have your full attention.

3.     Skilled negotiators ask good questions. If you enter the conversation with assumptions about what you know, you’ll miss vital opportunities to turn the conversation to your advantage. Ask questions that can help to identify key issues of the discussion. Use the information that was acquired during pre-negotiation preparation to formulate questions that can narrow the issues of the discussion. Use well-crafted open-ended questions (“what,” “why,” “how”) that get the other party talking and revealing.

Follow-up with questions that will require a more specific answer when responses are too general. A good questioner sets the pace and direction of the conversation. Keep your responses short and very specific to the questions being asked of you. Avoid inserting information that may be interesting, but not necessarily specific to the subject.

4.     Skilled negotiators are emotionally neutral. Emotional control plays a pivotal role in successful negotiations. The higher the perceived stakes in a negotiating process, the greater the chance that emotions will play an important role in the final outcome. Techniques to regulate your emotions become an important asset to ensure an optimal outcome. Regulating your emotions starts with understanding your own personal strengths and weaknesses, then building on those strengths while minimizing weaknesses.

Regulating emotions and maintaining emotional distance is necessary to be effective. This helps to neutralize the situation and avoid conflict. There isn’t a single technique that can be effective in all scenarios for self control; however, one of the best tips to maintain control is the all-time favorite that we practice with our children: ‘time-out’. Seriously. If you find things are getting out of control, create an opportunity for a time out. Make an excuse to go to the bathroom, get a file or get more info from another source. It doesn’t matter. Just give yourself some mental space for a few moments. The ability to recognize when a time-out is necessary is an important skill to cultivate. This helps you create emotional distance to allow a recharging of self-confidence and self control.

5.     Skilled negotiators find pain points and solve them. It’s a simple formula. Solve their problems and people will be grateful. That’s just a fundamental rule of business and life. But an important point to remember is that some people can’t put their finger on the specific pain point or can’t comprehend the larger picture of what is ailing them immediately. So, be ready to break down a complicated concept into more manageable parts– working systematically from ideas that can be readily understood, then building on that knowledge to the more difficult, or complex issues.

Sometimes, you have to translate and compartmentalize the issue in ways others can comprehend. But remember that no matter how persuasive your argument, the other side will not agree to your proposal unless it solves their discontent. People make decisions in order to solve a problem. Understand their pain and then show how your approach will help alleviate it.

6.     Skilled negotiators close the deal. Closing a deal is the ultimate goal to any negotiating process; however, closing a deal is not always possible. It’s important for any successful negotiator to recognize agreement or impasse and bring the meeting to a close. The final closing of any negotiation, either as the result of reaching an agreement or recognizing an impasse, is an important skill to learn and practice. A win-win is achieved through honesty and respect from both parties. But remember that a ‘win-win’ outcome is based on the subjective perception of a ‘win’ as defined in the initial objectives established during the preparation process. That is to say, each side moves to their final limits defined prior to the negotiation process.

Closing the deal means knowing when all elements of the objectives have been met and all that remains is to finalize the process to implement the plan. If an agreement has been reached, it is important that all elements of that agreement be briefly summarized prior to the conclusion of the meeting. If an agreement cannot be reached, it is essential that the outstanding issues be briefly summarized to assure that both parties agree that no further movement is possible. Like everything that is done well, a great negotiator will systematically demonstrate skills that can enhance the final outcome of a negotiation process. Using the skills outlined above, you will significantly increase your chances of closing the deal with a favorable outcome and avoiding a ‘lose-lose.’

Summary

In the real world, we win some battles and lose others. It’s important that we learn to deal with the frustration and discouragement associated with the lost battles to become more effective in the battles of tomorrow. Perhaps one of life’s most important lessons is the realization that not all people are agreeable and easy to deal with. There are difficult people in the world and our ability to recognize and deal with the many personalities we encounter can help us to be more successful in any interactions we may attempt. Unfortunately, people demonstrate traits, even as adults, that may be considered counterproductive or even childish.

Any discussion that requires a decision at some level with an expected or unexpected outcome involves and requires negotiating skills. Whether you’re building support or overcoming resistance, you’re negotiating. In the workplace you negotiate with colleagues and clients to obtain consensus and buy-in and in your personal life you negotiate with your neighbors, your family and your friends. The above set of skills and traits will help you be a stronger negotiator in the most challenging situations and with the most difficult people.

Unless you’re ‘negotiating’ with a toddler who is having a temper tantrum in the middle of the super market isle to the horror of standers by. In that case, I have no advice to offer. You’re on your own.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

May 18, 2017 •  6 minute read • by Saeed


“Emotional intelligence, more than any other factor, more than I.Q. or expertise, accounts for 85% to 90% of success at work…I.Q. is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional intelligence can.” ~ Warren Bennis, Author and Pioneer of Leadership Studies.

Daniel Goldman’s seminal work on Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence reveals the surprisingly deep impact of our relationships on our personal and professional lives.

Social Intelligence (SI) is the ability to successfully build relationships and navigate social environments.

Certain things leaders do—specifically, exhibit empathy and become attuned to others’ feelings and motivations—literally affect both their own brain chemistry and that of their followers. The good news is that social and emotional literacy is not fixed early in life. If you have a growth mindset and you are willing to put a few simple things in practice every day, you’ll seen reap the rewards of authentic connection with the people with whom you work. Here are 10 ways to enhance your social intelligence.

1.     Recognize that attention is the currency of all relationships: Giving people your attention tell them you respect their opinion and feedback. We live in a highly distracted world. How often do you find yourself talking to someone scrolling through their email on their phone. How do you feel? Lock eyes, listen hard. Give the gift of attention. Be mindful. Be present.

2.     Invest in relationships: Get to know people, really know them, and let people get to know you, really know you. Don’t hesitate to share a story or to talk about yourself in a way that shows something about your character, as context and time permit. Over time, go a level deeper of getting to know your people by investing in some one-on-one time with them, outside of the context of immediate tasks or projects. Understand personalities and motivations. Show heartfelt caring and concern about others.

3.     Smile more often: Facial expressions say a lot. A scowling or stone-faced leader does not say: “I’m approachable! Come, let me know what you need and what’s happening.” Rather it tells those you lead to stay away and don’t bother me. Make the choice to smile more often than not. Let your team know they can approach you by welcoming them with a smile.

4.     Share your mistakes and vulnerabilities: One thing exceptional leaders know is that mistakes need to be recognized. And they’re willing to go first with their mistakes. Approachable leaders open up about the mistakes they have made. They also let their team know where the mistakes have led. By being open about past mistakes, you encourage others to share their trials with you. Doing so allows you to help guide them through the tough times.

5.     Tell more stories: Stories have a great power. They draw people in and they help people remember details. Stories can also help make you a more effective communicator. People are drawn to stories. Stories click with others. And stories create community when done right. Tell stories that encourage your team to be a community.

6.     Get good at chit-chat: Effective leaders are willing to sit down and chat with those they lead. Whether it’s at the lunch table or at the front door or at a community event. When leaders initiate conversations with others they are seen as approachable. They open the doors to conversations. They make the first move so others can feel more comfortable.

7.     Share the glory: You will find there are leaders who hog all of the glory for a job well done. You will also find that these leaders are rarely the ones that have credibility with their teams. Rather, the leaders who share the glory are the ones who are seen as fair leaders and people rally around them. Don’t hog the praise for yourself. Pass it around to the ones who really helped your organization get to where it’s trying to go.

8.     Be relentlessly positive: There are positive people and then there are negative people. Generally, people are drawn to those with a positive worldview rather than those who hold a negative worldview. Having a negative outlook will make others see you in a negative light. Change your perspective and begin to think positively. Share this positivity and others will see you as a more positive and effective leader.

9.     Show your interest in who they are: Heart-Tree-Star, developed by a Microsoft manager who ran training and development for senior executives, is one structured way to think through and communicate about what motivates people. The three-part model goes through three lines of discussion around current passion and enthusiasm, growth and skill development, and personal definitions of progress and achievement:

  • Heart: What do you love doing? What are you good at?
  • Tree: What do want to develop? How do you want to grow? Where do you want to end up in the future?
  • Star: How do you feel rewarded?

10. Communicate like your life depends on it: When you get ideas and suggestions from colleagues or your team, acknowledge them. Ten words or less, such as, “I appreciate the heads up,” or, “Thank you, that update helped me,” does a lot to encourage further information, whereas a ringing silence or lack of response telegraphs apathy, which tends to shut people down. When you decide to ignore input or recommendations, certainly ones you solicited, take a moment to explain. Absent that, people will read their own story into your silence, which may be: s/he doesn’t want my input, so I’m not going to provide it. Consider making extra effort to be gentle with people who are easily intimidated, or less prone to go “toe to toe.” Attention is the currency of relationships but communication is the grease that keeps the wheels moving.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent post on what babies can teach us about employee engagement.

Best,

Saeed

How Do I Live a Good Life?

April 16, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Saeed


“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”Carl Rogers, American psychologist and one of the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology.

Johnny Depp likes to tell the story of when he met Marlon Brando before the filming of the 1994 romantic comedy-drama Don Juan DeMarco. Over dinner at Brando’s house, Depp began to recite the prologue to the William Saroyan play ‘The Time of Your Life,’ which he considered a road map for how one should live life. Halfway through, Brando finished the soliloquy for him verbatim. Depp then pulled out a dog-eared version which he’d carried around in his wallet for years to show him. At this point Brando got up to show Depp his own framed copy which he had also carried around for years in his wallet.

Go here to hear Depp telling the story. In the meantime, below is the prologue that guided the lives of two of the finest thesps the silver screen has seen. Enjoy!


The Time of Your Life (prologue) –  by William Saroyan

“In the time of your life, live — so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches.

Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed.

Place in matter and in flesh the least of values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away.

Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world.

Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.

Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart.

Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand.

Have no shame in being kindly and gentle, but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.

In the time of your life, live — so that in that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”

Citation. Prologue from the play in three acts. Copyright ©1939 by William Saroyan.

The Upward Spiral, Karma, and the Science of Gratitude

April 14, 2017 • 3 minute read • by Saeed


Stop searching for life’s big kahuna burger to make you happy.  As I made the case in my previous post, success in life is measured in increments.

In Upward Spiral, UCLA neuroscientist Alex Korb writes about how happiness and depression aren’t as hardwired as you may think. Little things you do habitually can create an upward spiral of positive feelings in the brain.

There’s science to prove it.

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine.

Gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable.

Everything is interconnected:

Gratitude improves sleep.

Sleep reduces pain.

Reduced pain improves your mood.

Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning.

Focus and planning help with decision making.

Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment.

Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going.

Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

To a Buddhist, Karma is the law of causation and is dependent on the interconnectedness of phenomena. Karma does not deal with any notion of justice. Karma states that all the actions a person undertakes have consequences.

If you recognize these simple truths, you will have uncovered the key secret to a good life backed by ancient wisdom and scientific research.

Start today. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. It’s simple (though not always easy).

What do you have to lose?

What do you have to gain?

 

The Wisdom of the Little Tramp

April 10, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Charlie Chaplin


In a career spanning more than 75 years, Charlie Chaplin is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of all time. Beyond acting, Chaplin was a humanist who believed ardently in the power of laughter and tears as an antidote to hatred and terror. The iconic actor of the silent film era was also a deeply reflective man. Few people know just how insightful and intelligent the he really was was. Even though he passed away almost 50 years ago, he continues to inspire. His movies were great but one of his greatest works is as this poem he penned which offers his unique and perceptive understanding of life and self-love.

Charlie Chaplin – as I began to love myself

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!

Charlie Chaplin

5 Strategies to Deal with The Pain of Divorce

December 14, 2014 • 8 minute read • by Saeed


“I don’t see divorce as a failure. I see it as the end to a story. In a story, everything has an end and a beginning. “

– Olga Kurylenko –

Let go. That’s the advice we often receive when dealing with difficult break-ups. Easier said than done. This advice does not usually come with any strategies to support the process of letting go. Unlike fine wine, divorce does not get better with age. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Inventory is a list of 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness. Number one on the list is Death of a Spouse. Number two? Divorce.

Getting over a divorce involves two overlapping processes—recovery from grief and restructuring your life. Experts say most people should give themselves a good two years to recover from an emotional trauma. In addition to the financial and emotional upheaval of an acrimonious divorce, the time that it takes to drudge the misery of your relationship through the courts can take a serious toll on your health, job and even social status. To counterbalance that effect and help you deal with the pain, you need a survival plan based on daily routines and strategies that establish a foundation for your new future. You need to implement that plan and pace yourself so you can sustain it for the life of the divorce, and thereafter. While only you can design the specifics of your plan, there are 5 key areas that it should encompass:

 

  1. The Social Strategy: Humans are social animals – there is no way around it and time and again researchers have found this to be the single most effective strategy to cope with divorce and the accompanying effects of isolation and loneliness that go with it. So tap into your social network and if you don’t have one, prioritize developing one. This strategy is particularly important for men to adopt since men are more prone to socially isolate themselves.
  1. The Physical Strategy: You need the right nutrition, sleep, and exercise to look and feel your best. Period. All three are common stress busters but the secret is to routinize them in your life. If you are a parent, you know the importance of routines in children’s lives. Routines give a sense of stability, continuity, reliance, and consistency. This is counter to the realities of divorce: change, instability, fear, and uncertainty. So develop personal self-care routines and stick to them – no matter what.
  1. The Mental Strategy: Therapy works but only if you visit the right kind of therapist with the right kind of therapy. Shop around and find the right fit for you and then invest in this strategy wholeheartedly. To get the most out of it, be honest and do the work it takes to heal. The process itself will help keep your depression at bay and give you perspective when you need it. Whether male or female, make sure you find someone who is going to be in your corner: non-judgmental and compassionate. Most importantly, remember: therapy is not just an intellectual exercise. You have to feel your own pain. You have to go to war with it to overcome it. One stress reducer common across all history and every culture is the simple mechanism of releasing salt water from our tear ducts.
  1. The Spiritual Strategy: This is about getting in touch with your core self and whatever method you use to do it, be it prayer, meditation, yoga or trimming your Bonsai tree, just do it. Develop a routine and stick to it. Hard core Yogis devote a minimum of three hours a day to their yoga and meditation practice. You may not have that kind of time, but it’s the routine that matters most. It’s the routine that will ultimately anchor you and give you a platform from which to start your life anew.
  1. The Financial Strategy: The longer your divorce takes the deeper the financial ditch you will find yourself in so it’s imperative that you stay on top of your finances, which include vigilance over your credit score, assets and debts. If you can afford a financial planner, hire one. If not, see if you can tap into free community services, get help on-line or just talk to your bank.

There will be times when it will all feel insurmountable and you will feel like giving up. It is at those times when it’s important to fall back on these strategies and on your own specific plan. And remember, never ever lose hope. In the words of the great Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Good luck.

©2014 – All Images and Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.