Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Consider Your Wellness

When you hear “wellness,” what comes to mind?  How would you define your own wellness?  Is it physical, mental, emotional?  Take a moment and consider what wellness means to you.  Of course you get to hear my definition:

Wellness is being the best one can be physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Pursuing wellness involves growth in each of the three areas, sometimes placing more emphasis on one area than another, but always with a balance among the three.  Pursuing wellness means being fully engaged in one’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

This is my abbreviated version of the American Holistic Health Association’s Wellness Quiz.  Do you:

-awaken with enthusiasm and confidence?
-have the high energy you need to do the things you want to do?
-laugh easily and often especially at yourself?
- feel valued and appreciated?
-have a circle of warm, caring friends?
-make the choices to get you want you want every day?

As they point out, if you answer no to any of the questions, this is where you can start to work on your wellness.  Take another moment and consider what you can do to increase your energy, enthusiasm or confidence.  What can you do to laugh more and take yourself less seriously?  What steps can you take to increase or enhance your circle of friends?  Most importantly, what will it take for you to make choices that get you what you want and need?  And no, not in a selfish, hurtful way, but in a caring, responsible way that considers the needs of others and perhaps even the planet.

Take one small step to improve your wellness today.  Comment with your wellness definition.

Good Day Sunshine. The Beatles

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Give Good Feedback

How do you give good feedback?  By good feedback I don’t mean telling people positive things.  I mean how to tell people negative things, the hard truths, in a good way.  It’s a kinder, gentler tiger mom approach.

Your kid does poorly on an exam, your friend blows a job interview, your spouse doesn’t reach their weight loss goal for the week, etc.  How to respond?

It’s not your job to soften the blow.   Telling someone they did as well as they could gives the message that their best isn’t good enough.  It also frees them from feeling bad.  Feeling badly because you did poorly is motivating.  You get the message that you’re not doing as well as you need to do.  That makes people try harder.

Focus on the change that needs to be made.  If they understand why they failed, they can look at other actions to take in the future.  The idea that you can make changes and do better is motivating and increases confidence.

Focus on controllables.   The focus is on what they did, not what they are.  Focus on effort, not ability.  Focus on new strategies, planning and persistence, i.e., on grit.  It’s not that they’re not good enough, it that they didn’t do something they needed to do, and that thing is under their control.

Be honest.  People can tell when you’re not being honest and it undermines any feedback you give now or in the future.

Good feedback might include some of the following ideas.  Maybe you studied but you didn’t study the right way; next time you may want to try focusing on writing notes, memorizing more, or starting sooner.  Perhaps you need to use a different strategy in the next interview; next time you may want to be more enthusiastic, have a better explanation for your interest in the position or be better prepared with your job history.  It’s great that you’ve been careful with your carbs, but maybe you need to be getting to the gym an extra day or two.

Good advice for others, and good advice for ourselves.  See how well you can tell the hard truth the next time you need to give feedback.  And maybe you need a little more honesty with yourself.

For fun: Don’t ask me no questions. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I’ve never written anything about 9/11.  It seems far too sacred.  But this morning I heard a story about Father Mychal Judge and wanted to share it with my readers.  I remember reading about Father Judge at the time.  This is a moving and inspiring story about giving, caring, gratitude, humility, bravery, spirituality, citizenship, humor, happiness, fulfillment and love.  So many of the character strengths we all aspire to play a part in this piece.  Honor your strengths today by using them, and consider trying to practice a new one.

Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings, Op 11

Monday, September 5, 2011

Achieve Your Goals. Watch Sports!

It’s a holiday and I’m watching the US Open.  I’d planned to just tune in for a bit and then was taken in by Serena.  The poise, the power the panache.  Then caught a bit of the Djokovic/Dolgopolov match, or I should say it caught me, as they played the tiebreaker for the first set and it’s 12-12 as I write.  For those of you that don’t follow tennis, that’s a lot of points for a tiebreaker.  Meaning, they’re both going at it hard…very, very hard.  It’s electric, as one of the commentators said.
Which made me wonder.  Why do we watch?  Why is it so engaging to see these stars, and sometimes not-yet stars, duke it out?  Is it, as Updike said of Ted Williams:
For me, Williams is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday, before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.
Which reminds me of a bit of research I’ve just been reading about building up your self-control “muscle.”  It’s up to 15-14 now.  They’re just going strong.  Yes, the research, it’s about the idea that when we hang out with successful people, we’re likely to be more successful ourselves.  And Djokovic, the number one player in the world right now, won it 16-14.  But it’s still just the first set mind you.  Yeah, the research suggests that whether we’re exercising, dieting or trying to be more creative, hanging out with people who do that thing well is likely to help us in our efforts.
And that’s why I love reading Updike (it’s my version of hanging out with Updike), his eloquence being just that difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.  Which is what I’m aspiring to.
The takeaway?  Do whatever it takes to surround yourself with people doing the thing you aspire to.  Whether they’re friends, workout partners, colleagues or those folks we love to watch on tv kicking, throwing, hitting and doing whatever else can be done with a round object.  When I sat down in front of the tv I was feeling a bit sluggish, and now, I’m totally ready to brush up on my serve and get out on the court.