Breathe and Smile

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WE HAVE MOVED TO BREATHEANDSMILE.ORG

March 5, 2013


NO MORE POSTS HERE!  CHECK US OUT AT WWW.BREATHEANDSMILE.ORG.

Please Move With Us!

February 23, 2013


We’ve moved!  We’re growing so much that we grew out of the wordpress.com format to its big brother wordpress.org.  That means, you won’t find any new posts at http://www.breatheoutandsmile.wordpress.com any more.  Now find us at:

www.breatheandsmile.org

When you go, make yourself at home by doing a couple of things:

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We’re still cleaning the place up, so forgive us if something doesn’t quite look right.  If you’ve found something that doesn’t work, let us know.

We REALLY appreciate our community of supporters and followers.  We hope you like our new digs.

We’ve Moving!

February 22, 2013 1 Comment


We’re moving!  We’ve grown quite a bit this year, so we’re moving to breatheandsmile.org.  If you go to that site today and tomorrow, it may look a bit untidy.  Stay with us, and we’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.

Food is better than antidepressants

February 22, 2013 1 Comment


Fruit bowl

Natural Health News — The concept of “mood food” may be more than just a pleasant rhyme. A recent analysis has shown that certain foods can actually lower your risk of depression.

Researchers at Oxford University assessed the data from 11 quality studies which investigated the link between diet and unipolar depression and/or depressive symptoms in adults (aged 19-97). Patients in these studies were monitored for anywhere between 2 and 13 years – plenty long enough to tell whether diet could have an impact on symptoms.

The results, reported in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics showed that the risk of depression dropped with higher intakes of folate, omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids; foods such as olive oil and fish; and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.

This analysis adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that for some people suffering from depression food maybe better first line therapy than drugs. It’s no fluke that the foods which seemed to lower the risk of depression were wholefoods, since these foods have a high nutrient density and so may be richer in nutrients necessary to maintain a stable mood such as magnesium and B vitamins.

Deficiencies in these nutrients, either from a diet high in processed foods, or because they are declining in intensively farmed crops due to high fertiliser and pesticide use, could be one explanation for why depression is becoming so widespread in the developed world

Other studies have found similar results.

A 2010 looked at the quality of diet as it related to the development of depression. What was termed a “traditional” diet, which included fresh vegetables, fruit, beef, lamb, fish, and whole grains was associated with a 35% low risk of major depression and 32% lower risk of anxiety disorders.

In comparison a typical “western” diet of processed or fried foods, refined grains, sugary products, and beer was associated with a higher risk. A third type of diet termed a “modern” diet which was mostly plant based including fruits, salads, fish, tofu, beans, nuts yoghurt and red wine had no effect either way on the risk of depression.

In another study researchers in Britain looked at depression and diet in more than 3,000 middle-aged civil servants over the course of five years. Compared to an average diet hose who ate a mostly junk food diet,  high in processed meat, chocolates, sweet desserts, fried food, refined cereals and high-fat dairy products were more 58% likely to report symptoms of depression. Those who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish were 26% less likely to report being depressed.

Just last year a study showed how eating trans fats could provoke irritability and aggression.

A 2008 review of the data on nutritional therapies for depression found that essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids are often deficient in the general population and are exceptionally deficient in patients suffering from mental disorders. According to the review daily supplements of vital nutrients often effectively reduce patients’ symptoms.

In addition supplements that contain amino acids also reduce symptoms, because they are converted to neurotransmitters that alleviate depression and other mental disorders. Based on the data, said the researchers nutritional supplements may be appropriate for controlling major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, eating disorders,

It is estimated that around bout 1 in 7 adults will become seriously depressed enough to need treating at some point in their lives. In addition to a high quality diet, there are other natural ways to approach depression such as herbs. Maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise are also important in helping to keep your mood level.

Recent studies suggest that talk therapy may be as good as or better than drugs in the treatment of depression, and may be especially helpful where drugs haven’t worked, though general practitioners tend to reach for the prescription pad before referring patients to a good therapist. Try these first, or if drugs are deemed necessary as a complementary therapy for depression and anxiety.

For more on foods to boost your mood see our article, here.

How to Live a Barefoot Life

February 21, 2013 4 Comments


If you like this post, please ‘like’ and retweet to share the love.

Post written by Leo Babauta at ZenHabits.com. 

Yesterday morning I ran a few miles in my Vibram Fivefingers, designed to mimic barefoot running (see my guide to barefoot running).

And then I took off the minimalist Fivefinger shoes, and ran completely barefoot for half a mile. It was liberating.

Later, I walked for a couple of hours, taking my sandals off for a good part of the walk. Today I walked barefoot once again. There’s a sensation to barefoot walking that is light, free, simple, joyful.

Imagine walking barefoot on thick grass, or cool night sand. These are wonderful sensations that shod walkers cannot enjoy.

Going barefoot, I realized, is a perfect metaphor for my philosophy of life: the barefoot philosophy.

When you go barefoot, you become naked, you simplify, you become a minimalist.

It’s a hard philosophy to explain, because others often judge it as weird, hippy-like (as if that’s bad), unpractical. It’s very practical, and while it may indeed be weird, it’s also beautiful.

It’s the simple life, in a nutshell.

The Barefoot Philosophy, in Bits

To embrace the Barefoot Philosophy, you don’t actually have to go barefoot. Again, it’s a metaphor for how you might live your life, and these principles can be applied to anything you do.

  • Light: When you’re barefoot, you feel light, and you’re not burdened by stuff. In anything in life, if you can be light, it’s a wonderful feeling. Think traveling light, or moving to a new city without too much stuff.
  • Free: Walking barefoot, you feel free, without the restrictions of shoes. The fewer burdens and restrictions you have in life, the freer you are. Think of how easy it would be to pick up and travel, or move, or change jobs, or do something with a friend in the middle of a work day.
  • Naked: Without shoes, you feel a bit naked, and being naked in public is scary. But it’s also an exhilarating feeling, and once you get comfortable with that nakedness, it’s kinda fun. Blogging can feel this way — you’re putting yourself out into the world, naked, and that’s scary at first. Doing anything different, where you expose a piece of yourself, is like being naked. But you get used to it, and it’s not so scary.
  • Pleasureful: The point of walking barefoot is to experience the pleasure of feeling the surface beneath your feet. The sensations are marvelous: cool, warm, textured, plush, smooth, rough. In anything in life, if you can experience the sensations of whatever you’re doing, this is a beautiful thing. Think of the sensations of eating, swimming, washing dishes, sitting on a breezy porch, lying in the grass under the sun, kissing in the rain.
  • Aware: Walking barefoot, you’re more aware of the ground you’re walking over — when you’re shod, you can walk for miles without really thinking about the surfaces you’re traveling over. In anything you do, increasing your awareness of your surroundings is a desirable thing. Think of walking outside vs. being inside a car, or shutting off the mobile device so you can talk to the people around you or pay attention to the beauty around you.
  • Present: The beauty of walking barefoot is that it brings you back to the present moment. It’s hard to be stuck in a perceived slight by someone else earlier in the day, or worry about what might happen later in the day, when you are walking barefoot. In anything you do, if you can stay in the present moment, you will experience life to the fullest, will be less likely to be stuck in anger or consumed by worry or stressed by coming events.
  • Non-conformist: One of the hardest things about walking barefoot isn’t the temperature or possible pain of pebbles, it’s the non-conformity of it all — it’s being worried that others will think you’re a dork, or homeless, or some kind of dangerous radical. And yet, I’ve learned to embrace my non-conformist side, to relish in being a bit different, to be proud I’m not one of the sheep. There’s nothing wrong with bucking societal norms, if it’s for good reason.
  • Non-consumerist: The shoe companies would hate it if there were a major barefoot movement, because they’re no product they could sell you as a solution. This isn’t true of environmentalism — there are tons of green products that are making millions of dollars for corporations. I believe in ditching shoes like I believe in ditching any kind of product that you buy as a solution to life’s problems. Life is better with less, not more, and when you think of yourself as a human rather than a consumer, you’re breaking free from the endless cycle of earning and buying and using up.

How to Live a Barefoot Life

The above philosophy is fine, and might appeal to some, but what you want is a practical guide, no?

I’m not going to give it to you. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, nor is it desirable to live the life prescribed by someone else. The whole point is to do it on your own, without buying one of my books or doing it exactly as I do.

Live this philosophy, in small bits, and see if you like it. It takes some time to adjust to this approach, but it’s lovely in the end.

Some things to consider and try, though:

  • Try walking barefoot (tipsfaq).
  • Get rid of a couple boxes of clutter today.
  • When you leave your house, take less with you than usual.
  • When you find yourself worried about the future or past, breathe, and focus on your breath going in and out.
  • When you find yourself wanting to buy something, pause. Then think of how you can live without buying it.
  • Take time to fully enjoy a few simple pleasures today: the slow savoring of a small portion of something delicious, watching nature, spending time with a loved one, walking.
  • Try some minimalist fun.
  • Think of the restrictions you impose on yourself, and see if you can lift a few of them.
  • Smile, and breathe.
  • Most of all, be present and enjoy life.

 

Three Little Words to Unlock Your Happiness

February 20, 2013 3 Comments


Let it be...

After years of being told to map out our life goals, a new book says focussing too rigidly on our dreams is a recipe for disappointment. The secret to happy-ever-after can be found in just three little words: Let. It. Be.

We’re constantly being told that by simply imagining what we want, we are moving closer to achieving it. Self-help manual The Secret – which advocates positive thinking as a means to wealth, health and happiness – has sold over 21million copies and even counts Oprah Winfrey among its followers. But now a refreshing new book, The Antidote to Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman, suggests that far from delivering the promised wealth, health and happiness, single-mindedly chasing a goal can lead to disappointment, disillusionment and can close you off to other more exciting, but unforeseen, opportunities. By even subscribing to this ‘positive visualisation’ philosophy we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and unhappiness, says Burkeman. Instead he advocates a more relaxed approach to the future: tear up ‘the plan’ and learn to enjoy uncertainty and embrace imperfection. “Optimism is wonderful; goals can sometimes be useful; even positive thinking and positive visualisation have their benefits,” says Burkeman. “But the culture of positive thinking seeks to make things certain, to make happiness permanent and final. And yet this kind of happiness – even if you do manage to achieve it – is shallow and unsatisfying.”

As the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” So perhaps it’s time to let up on yourself when your life goals don’t miraculously fall into place.

“We spend too much of our lives seeking closure,” warns Burkeman. The problem is that life can very rarely be tied up in a neat little bow: it’s messy. And much as we try to imagine it, none of us know what’s around the corner. But instead of being scared of the unknown, Burkeman says we should embrace the mystery and excitement. By accepting that what will be will be, he argues, we’ll ultimately be much happier.

Let Go Of The Reins
Kelly Brightwell*, 35, had no idea a break-up was around the corner and was left shocked and devastated when her boyfriend pulled the rug from under her life plan. “I’d always imagined I’d be married by 35,” says Kelly. “That was the age I imagined my career would be on track, and I could therefore focus on the next stage of my life plan – marriage and family. I met Dan* when I was 33. On paper he was everything I’d imagined in a future husband: he was smart, had a good career and came from a nice family. A year down the line, I was expecting a proposal, but Dan broke up with me instead. I couldn’t believe it. I was mortified, angry and hurt.”

Kelly found out the hard way that one of the fundamental flaws in focussing intently on a goal is that it rules out interference from outside factors – such as other people. “We habitually act as if our control over the world is much greater than it really is,” says Burkeman. “Even such personal matters as our health, our finances and our reputations are ultimately beyond our control; we can try to influence them, of course, but frequently things won’t go our way. And the behaviour of other people is even further beyond our control. For most conventional notions of happiness – which consist of making things the way you want them to be – this poses a big problem.”
Burkeman suggests that instead of focussing intensely on the future, we should enjoy the present. “Faced with the anxiety of not knowing what the future holds, we invest ever more fiercely in our preferred vision of the future – not because it will help us achieve it but because it helps rid us of feelings of uncertainty in the present.” He adds, “There is a powerful alternative possibility: we could learn to become more comfortable with uncertainty and exploit the potential hidden within it, both to feel better in the present and to achieve more success in the future.”

Looking back, Kelly acknowledges that she was so focussed on her ‘plan’ that she was blindsided by her break-up – despite the warning signs. “I can see now that Dan wasn’t right for me, but he was perfect on paper, so I tried to shoehorn him into my life plan. I wanted to get married and I didn’t really care who it was to. If I’m honest, I found him a little bit boring, and we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. I ignored those doubts because I was so eager to stick to my marriage timeline. I can see now that he did us both a favour by ending it.” Kelly adds, “I’m still single and happier than ever. For the first time, I’m enjoying not knowing what my future holds.”

Achievement At Any Cost
Another problem with becoming consumed by achieving a goal, suggests Burkeman, is that it can negatively affect the other areas of your life. Jenny Goldman*, 42, became so focussed on making partner at her law firm that she lost sight of what is really important to her.

“I was one of only a handful of female employees at my firm,” says Jenny. “I’ve always been fiercely ambitious. At 32, when I first joined the firm, I vowed to make partner by the time I hit 40 – my goal was to be the youngest female partner the firm had ever had. For eight years, I threw myself into work, spending 16 hours a day at the office and working over weekends. When I finally reached my goal and was made partner, I felt completely deflated. I had the corner office and the pay-rise, but I had no friends, no partner and no social life. I’d pursued my goal so single-mindedly that I’d forgotten what was really important to me – the people I love.”

This is a common problem with goalsetting, says Burkeman – people set goals that are too narrow or overly ambitious and end up disappointed when they achieve them and aren’t instantaneously happy. A recent survey found that 41 per cent of people agree that achieving their goals had failed to make them happier, while 18 per cent said their goals had destroyed a friendship or marriage.

“Formulating a vision of the future requires, by definition, that you isolate some aspect or aspects of your life, and focus on those at the expense of all others,” explains Burkeman. He adds, “Goal-free living simply makes for happier humans.”

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
Burkeman argues that we should stop thinking about our goals in terms of how wonderful our life would be if we achieved them – and start looking at how big the loss would be if we failed. “Failure is the thing that the culture of positive thinking strives at all costs to avoid, but we might be better off learning to embrace it,” he says. “An openness to the emotional experience of failure can be a stepping stone to a much richer kind of happiness than can be achieved by focusing only on success.”After all, when things don’t go our way, it’s often not the catastrophe we imagine. “When things go wrong, they’ll almost certainly go less wrong than you were fearing,” says Burkeman. “Losing a job won’t condemn you to starvation and death; losing a boyfriend won’t condemn you to a life of misery.” The key, he says, is to replace irrational notions with more rational judgements: spend time vividly imagining exactly how wrong things could go in reality and you will usually find your fears are exaggerated.

Stella McKay*, 33, lived in fear of her career going off-plan – until it did, becoming the best thing that happened to her. “My company was hit hard in the recession and cuts were being made across the board. I was terrified my head might be on the chopping block. I’d worked for five years to get where I was and imagined all my hard work going down the drain. I also didn’t want a blemish on my perfect CV. I feared I’d never work again. I worried about losing my flat, my car… everything.”

Ultimately, Stella was let go, but it wasn’t the disaster she had imagined. “I was given a glowing reference and was hired pretty quickly by a rival firm. I love my new job, even more than my old one. If I’d thought about the worst case scenario rationally before I lost my job, I could have saved myself lots of sleepless nights.”

As Stella can testify, living in fear of failure is stressful and exhausting. But Burkeman insists our anxiety needn’t overwhelm us, advising, “Confronting the worst case scenario saps it of much of its anxiety-inducing power.”

 

Being Comfortable with Discomfort

February 19, 2013


‘The only thing I can’t stand is discomfort.’ ~Gloria Steinem

By Leo Babauta

Of all the skills I’ve learned in the past 7 years of changing my life, one skill stands out:

Learning to be comfortable with discomfort.

If you learn this skill, you can master pretty much anything. You can beat procrastination, start exercising, make your diet healthier, learn a new language, make it through challenges and physically grueling events, explore new things, speak on a stage, let go of all that you know, and become a minimalist. And that’s just the start.

Unfortunately, most people avoid discomfort. I mean, they really avoid it — at the first sign of discomfort, they’ll run as fast as possible in the other direction. This is perhaps the biggest limiting factor for most people, and it’s why you can’t change your habits.

Think about this: many people don’t eat vegetables because they don’t like the taste. We’re not talking about soul-wrenching pain here, not Guantanamo torture, but a taste that’s just not something you’re used to. And so they eat what they already like, which is sweets and fried stuff and meats and cheeses and salty things and lots of processed flour.

The simple act of learning to get used to something that tastes different — not really that hard in the grand scheme of life — makes people unhealthy, often overweight.

I know, because this was me for so many years. I became fat and sedentary and a smoker and deeply in debt with lots of clutter and procrastination, because I didn’t like things that were uncomfortable. And so I created a life that was deeply uncomfortable as a result.

The beautiful thing is: I learned that a little discomfort isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be something you enjoy, with a little training. When I learned this, I was able to change everything, and am still pretty good at changing because of this one skill.

Master your fear of discomfort, and you can master the universe.

Avoidance of Discomfort

When people are stressed, they often turn to cigarettes, food, shopping, alcohol, drugs … anything to get rid of the disomfort of the thing that’s stressing them out. And yet, if you take a deeper look at the stress, it’s really an unfounded fear that’s causing it (usually the fear that we’re not good enough), and if we examined it and gave it some light of day, it would start to go away.

When people start to exercise after being sedentary, they are uncomfortable. It’s hard! It can make you sore. It’s not as easy as not exercising. It’s not something you’re used to doing, and you fear doing it wrong or looking stupid. And so you stop after awhile, because it’s uncomfortable, when really it’s not horrible to be uncomfortable for a little while. We’re not talking about incredible pain, but just discomfort.

When people try a healthier diet, they often don’t like it — eating veggies and raw nuts and flaxseeds and fruits and tofu or tempeh or black beans isn’t as thrilling as eating fried, fatty, salty or sweet foods. It’s a form of discomfort to change your taste buds, but the truth is, it can easily happen if you just get through a little discomfort.

Discomfort isn’t bad. It’s just not what we’re used to. And so we avoid it, but at the cost of not being able to change things, not being healthy, not being open to adventure and the chaos of raw life.

Mastering Discomfort

The way to master discomfort is to do it comfortably. That might sound contradictory, but it’s not. If you are afraid of discomfort, and you try to beat discomfort with a really gruelling activity, you will probably give up and fail, and go back to comfort.

So do it in small doses.

  1. Pick something that’s not hard. Take meditation as an example. It’s not really that hard — you just sit down and pay attention to your body and breath, in the present moment. You don’t have to empty your mind (just notice your thoughts), you don’t have to chant anything weird, you just sit and pay attention. If you don’t like meditation, try a new healthy food, like kale or raw almonds or quinoa. Or a fairly easy exercise if you’re sedentary, like walking or jogging.
  2. Just do a little. You don’t have to start by doing 30 minutes of something you’re not used to doing. Just do a few minutes. Just start.
  3. Push out of your comfort zone, a little. My friend and Zen priestSusan O’Connell has a favorite meditation instruction that you can use for any activity actually: when you’re meditating and you feel like getting up, don’t; then when you feel the urge to get up a second time, don’t; and when you feel the urge to get up a third time, then get up. So you sit through the urge, the discomfort, twice before finally giving in the third time. This is a nice balance, so that you’re pushing your comfort zone a little. You can do this in exercise and many other activities — push a little.
  4. Watch the discomfort. Watch yourself as you get a bit uncomfortable — are you starting to complain (internally)? Are you looking for ways to avoid it? Where do you turn to? What happens if you stay with it, and don’t do anything?
  5. Smile. This is not trivial advice. If you can smile while being uncomfortable, you can learn to be happy with discomfort, with practice. When I did the Goruck Challenge in 2011, it was 13 hours of discomfort — raw and bloody knees, sand in my shoes as a hiked and ran with 60+ pounds on my back, carrying teammates and logs, doing pushups and crabwalks and other exercises, needing the bathroom and being tired and hungry and cold. And yet, I practiced something simple: I tried to mantain a smile through all this discomfort. It’s an important practice.

Repeat this practice daily. It will be strange, perhaps difficult, at first, but soon your comfort zone will expand. If you practice it enough, with different activities, your comfort zone will expand to include discomfort. And then you can master the universe.

What You Can Now Master

If you master discomfort, what can you now master as a result? Just about anything:

  1. Procrastination. We procrastinate to avoid something that’s not comfortable, but if you can learn to stay with that task, even if it’s not comfortable. The discomfort isn’t bad. Those of you going through theProcrastination module in my Sea Change Program are learning about dealing with the discomfort of staying with your important task.
  2. Exercise. We avoid exercise because it’s not comfortable, but if we expand the comfort zone a little at a time, we can make exercise something we’re comfortable with, after a little repetition.
  3. Writing. If you want to write but always seem to put it off, that’s because writing is often difficult, or less comfortable than checking email or social networks (for example). Stay with the discomfort, and you’ll write more than ever.
  4. Eating healthy. It’s amazing how much our taste buds can change over time, if we gradually get used to healthier foods. That means going through small periods of discomfort, but it’s not that bad in little doses.
  5. Meditation. We avoid the disomfort of sitting and doing nothing, of focusing on the present. But it’s not that hard — just a little uncomfortable.
  6. Waking early. Waking early means being a little tired for a little while, but that’s not a horrible thing. Read more about rising early.
  7. Learning a language/instrument. Want to learn something new? That means doing something you’re not used to, by definition, and so we often quit before we master this new skill, simply because (you guessed it) it makes us uncomfortable. Stay with the discomfort, and before long you’ll enjoy learning this new skill.
  8. Clutter. Clutter is just another form of procrastination. You don’t put things away, or you let a pile of things you don’t need build up, because it’s not comfortable dealing with it right now (as compared to, say, browsing the Internet or watching TV). But dealing with something right now isn’t that hard once you get past the discomfort.
  9. Reading novels. We tend to avoid simply sitting with a book, because we are pulled towards something more comfortable (again, Internet browsing as an example). If we can just sit with the book and a little discomfort, we can read more.
  10. Empty email inbox. Another form of procrastination — you get some emails, maybe look at them, but put off dealing with them right now because it’s easier not to.
  11. Debt. This is a series of things we have to deal with that are uncomfortable — listing out our debts and bills, making a simple budget, doing things that are free instead of shopping, etc. But I got out of debt by finally facing all of these things, and it was wonderful.
  12. New adventures. Many people stay with places they’re comfortable with, which means missing out on new experiences that might be a little uncomfortable. Even when they travel, many people stick with the tourist sights and food that they’re used to, rather than finding strange but more authentic experiences in a new land. We avoid meeting new people, speaking on stage, letting go of what we know, being open to new things … to avoid discomfort.

And that’s just the start. Within each of these areas there’s many things you can work on over the coming years now that you’re not afraid of discomfort, and there are many other areas of exploration now open to you.

Discomfort can be the joyful key that opens up everything for you.

‘Discomfort is very much part of my master plan.’ ~Jonathan Lethem

The World Needs You.

February 18, 2013 1 Comment


Seth Godin’s new manifesto for YOU…

How Long Are You Going to Wait?

They told you to get your résumé in order, to punch your ticket, to fit in, and to follow instructions. They told you to swallow your pride, not to follow your dream.  They promised trinkets and prizes and possibly riches if you would just suck it up and be  part of the system, if you would merely do what you were told and conform.  They sold you debt and self-storage and reality TV shows. They sold your daughters and sons, too. All in exchange for what would happen later, when it was your turn.

It’s your turn.

You Are Not Your Career

Your ability to follow instructions is not the secret to your success.  You are hiding your best work, your best insight, and your best self from us every day.  We know how much you care, and it’s a shame that the system works overtime to push you away from the people and the projects you care about.  The world does not owe you a living, but just when you needed it, it has opened the door for you to make a difference.

It’s too bad that so much time has been wasted, but it would be unforgivable to wait any longer.  You have the ability to contribute so much. We need you, now.

“Does Anyone Have Any Suggestions?”

We’ve all heard this request at the end of a meeting. Sometimes the moderator even means it.  Sometimes the moderator, the boss, the person with a problem, actually wants to know if  the group has an untried concept or an insight to share.

And the response is always the same. Silence. Sidelong glances, perhaps some shuffling of papers, but still, silence.

Really?

All these highly trained, well-paid, and respected people in a room and not one person has something to contribute? I doubt it.

All these highly trained, well-paid, and respected people in a room and not one person has something to contribute? I doubt it.

Stick around for a few minutes, and if the moderator has earned any trust at all, someone speaks up. And if that person isn’t summarily executed, someone else speaks up.  And then more people. Until finally, the room is filled with energy, a buzz that you can feel.

Finally, we’re permitted to be human, to end the silence, to share our best work.

Amazingly, everyone in the room is capable of seeing and analyzing and solving. Everyone in the room is capable of passion. Everyone in the room can care enough to do something—if they can overthrow the self-induced, systemically amplified censor that keeps them in line.

Why didn’t anyone speak up earlier? Why did we have to wait until the meeting was over? Where does the strained silence come from?

This isn’t a manifesto for other people. This is a manifesto for you. It’s a manifesto for anyone who has been overlooked or brainwashed or seduced into being invisible.

A revolution is here, our revolution, and it is shining a light on what we’ve known deep down for a long time—you are capable of making a difference, of being bold, and of changing more than you are willing to admit.

You are capable of making art.

Read the rest here…

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Unleashing Your Many Job Identities Through the Slash! One Person / Multiple Careers

February 17, 2013


 of Bloomberg

Marci Alboher talks about her new book, One Person/Multiple Careers, and how people she calls “slashes” have discovered the secret to work/life fulfillment

Marci Alboher is a lawyer-turned-journalist/speaker/writing coach who knows that she introduces herself with an abundance of labels and punctuation. She does it on purpose, because she’s hell-bent on spreading the message that people should be unleashing their many identities. For her new book, One Person/Multiple Careers, she interviewed hundreds of people living these lives, from a longshoreman/documentary filmmaker to a management consultant/cartoonist.

She and I recently talked about what she learned from people who are custom-blending careers, why she thinks we’re going to see more “slashing,” and how we can all benefit from the slash movement—both in our own careers and in the companies we build and manage. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow:

You’ve gotten a lot of attention for bringing the word “slash” into the lexicon of careers. So what’s going on with all the slashes?

Slashes are people who pursue multiple careers or vocations simultaneously. They’ve taken the notion of moonlighting and turned it on its head. Whereas moonlighting was something you did shamefully, slashing has cachet. From lawyer/chefs to mom/screenwriters and celebrity icons like Bono (see BusinessWeek.com, 4/24/07, “My Dinner with Bono”), rock star/humanitarian, slashes are appearing at all strata of society.

What is behind this explosion of careers with slashes?

It’s happening for a number of reasons:

Now that so much work can be done flexibly, portably, and virtually, it’s easy to do many kinds of work in the same workweek or even workday.

Economic security no longer exists unless you create it. Having multiple income streams is one of the best ways to create stability.

People are living and working longer, creating a large canvas on which to paint a career.

We are all craving fulfillment and meaning in our careers, so it’s becoming more common to combine work for security with work that feeds a passion.

Are there common models for slashing, or is every case different?

Some combinations are so common that people already think about them as an integrated career—the actor/director or anyone who teaches/speaks/writes/consults in their given field. Then there are the corporate types who have a business or artistic pursuit “on the side.” The slashes who get the most notice are those with incongruous combinations, like Robert Childs, a psychoanalyst/violin maker. Of course, anyone who works while actively raising children is living a slash life.

Most people have trouble managing one career; aren’t you just encouraging them to make careers more challenging and complicated?

The most surprising thing I learned from the people I’ve interviewed is that while people with slashes may experience workplace stress, they tend to say that the difficult times are far outweighed by the fact that they have written the rules of their own working lives. Slash careers provide variety, multiple income streams, and a tonic against the burnout so common in those who pursue one endeavor exclusively.

And in many cases, multiple identities result in unexpected synergies. Consider John Barr, who had a thriving career as financier, all the while publishing books of poetry. When the national Poetry Foundation was looking for a leader who was both passionate about poetry and capable of managing a wealthy nonprofit, Barr was the perfect choice.

How do you create a résumé or handle an interview when you are a person with multiple careers?

This can be tricky, and it all depends on your goals. For some, it makes a lot of sense to be upfront about various slashes in all contexts. Angela Williams, the corporate lawyer/minister who inspired me to write this book, says that revealing her dual professions has made her more marketable to potential employers and clients.

She features both prominently in her résumé and bio. Others keep their identities separate to the point of having multiple résumés. In the era of Web sites and online profiles, more people are describing themselves with a litany of slashes, but in each case it’s about what works best with a person’s particular mix of slashes.

What ever happened to the conventional wisdom that values specialization and becoming an expert in your career? Why would anyone want to go to a surgeon who has another job on the side?

Slash careers are entirely consistent with developing expertise. In fact, many slash professionals occupy the highest rungs of their various professions. Often they took on a slash at a time in their career when they had the luxury to slow down a bit after putting in their dues in a given field.

And many slashes tell me that having other outlets or areas of focus made them better at their original occupation. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who divides his time between his career as a journalist for CNN (TWX) and his work a surgeon, is arguably seeing a wider world of medicine by traveling the globe as a correspondent than if he never left the confines of his hospital in Atlanta.

You often refer to yourself as a former lawyer. Now that so many people go through career changes, how do prior careers fit in with the whole slash movement?

I rarely encounter someone who has switched careers who didn’t carry forward and benefit from the training or perspective that came from the earlier career. The key with “starter careers” is to realize how they can complement or enhance your current career.

We are entering an age where the hybrids will rule the workplace, whether they’re called hyphenates, slashes, or some other name. If you’re an architect with an MBA, you’ll see opportunities in the business side of architecture that few others will see. Careers at the intersections are where innovation is born.

You say throughout your book that slash careers require constant tweaking and reinvention. So what’s next for you?

Just a few weeks ago, I started writing the online column, “Shifting Careers” for The New York Times (NYT). Writing a weekly column is quite different, both in pace and in style, from writing a book. So I am embracing being a beginner all over again as I immerse myself in this new kind of writing. I have a feeling my next book idea will come out of that column.

It has been great to interview you! I now realize that I am an executive educator/professor/coach/writer/columnist/Buddhist!

 

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Cameron Russell admits she won “a genetic lottery”: she’s tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don’t judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16-years-old. (Filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic.)

 

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Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.

February 16, 2013 1 Comment

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