Authentic Connection

This Valentine’s Day, enhance your connection with your loved ones by sharing more genuinely with each other. Take a risk by asking deeper questions and reciprocate by sharing about yourself —your truth, your values or your story.

Emotional intimacy emerges from authenticity. We often long for connection but are hesitant to reveal ourselves. It can be scary to open up, but it’s this vulnerability that makes for rich and meaningful relationships. Strengthen your bond with your partner, your children and your friends by moving beyond the superficial banter and enriching your conversation with meaningful questions.

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What’s Your Theme for the New Year?

How’s your new year’s resolution holding up so far? Have you been able to stick to your goal of going to bed earlier, drinking less alcohol, getting to the gym or cutting back on sugar? Good intentions are often thwarted by our old habits and the temptations surrounding us. To stay on track with your goals, link your aspiration to a larger purpose.

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Welcome Wonder

During the holidays, we enjoy tales of wonder, whether about oil that miraculously lasted eight nights or the story of of angels, virgin birth and a guiding star. Even the secular celebrations in December leave kids wide-eyed with tales of flying reindeer.

Children are easily swept up in wonderment during the holidays, but adults are often tasked with the chores of creating this magical experience, which can lead to feeling harried rather than awestruck. As a gift to yourself, remember to welcome wonder into your holiday season. Continue reading

Discover Your Joyful Surroundings

Step out of the chatter of your mind and orient to the joy that surrounds you.

The human brain has a unique capacity to put things into perspective. We can look back, learn from our mistakes, anticipate problems and solve them using imagination. However, these abilities also feed the anxious mind, resuffering past struggles and presuffering feared futures. In the words of Dr. Martin Seligman, father of the Positive Psychology movement, “We aren’t built to live in the moment.”

Still, we have a sensory body that enables us to return to the present moment and connect with joy. In her TED Talk “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It,” designer Ingrid Fetell Lee points out visual delights all around us – we just need to watch for them. Continue reading

Boost the Connection with Simple Conversation Starters

How do you feel about starting a conversation with a stranger? Do you relish the chance to learn about someone new, or do you feel awkward, unsure what to say? If you dread networking or chatting at parties, consider building a conversation tool kit to help you feel more at ease and keep the conversation interesting and enjoyable for you both.

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How to Follow-Through on Your Intentions: Start by Tossing Your To-Do List

Is your to-do list formal or informal? Do you keep it in your head, on paper, on your computer or on your phone? Does it work for you?

Regardless, it’s time to improve your work process by getting rid of your to-do list.

A more effective strategy is to schedule your to-dos in your calendar. Consider each item on your list and confirm that it’s an actionable task. Then, decide when you can really get it done and block out a specific time in your calendar to do it.

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How to Give and Receive Feedback

Healthy relationships require functional feedback systems. Unfortunately, most people get skittish about feedback because it’s often served up critically. Challenging feedback is essential for sustainable connection, but it need not be painful to give or receive.

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Trust: the Heart of Relationship

Trust is the foundation of connection. Developing trust involves discernment. You learn how to tell who is trustworthy and who isn’t by being optimistic, risking vulnerability and experiencing how your friends respond. That first step towards trusting a new friend is a leap of faith. But the risk is worth the reward. When you find a safe relationship, you can share your deepest hopes and fears.

Brene Brown explores the Anatomy of Trust in this illuminating video (click here). Building on her powerful TED talks about vulnerability and shame, Brown explains the components of trust, highlighting behaviors to look for in others and to cultivate in yourself.

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Hope: the Ultimate Superfood

You already know that it’s important to eat your leafy veggies and blueberries, rich in antioxidants. But did you know that hope is the ultimate superfood?

A superfood is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” Hope offers emotional nourishment that improves emotional and physical health and lengthens life. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the health benefits of an optimistic outlook. Dr. David Snowdon found that positive emotional content in essays written during young adulthood predicted lifespan—those who had a more positive outlook lived 6.9 years longer than their pessimistic counterparts. Similarly, other research has shown that optimism is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower death rates.

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Increase Calm and Self-Control with this 5-minute Daily Practice

Where can you carve-out five minutes? How about before you get out of bed after your alarm goes off? Or maybe you can claim five minutes after your morning coffee, at work while sitting at your desk, or in the car before you drive to the grocery store. Really, you can do this practice almost anywhere.

In fact, you’re already doing one part of this practice all day long – breathing. The only added step is to pay close attention. Breathing usually happens outside of conscious awareness, but focusing on your breath is one of the most powerful strategies for managing stress and increasing self-control. It can even help with treating anxiety and depression.

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