Saturday, August 12, 2017

Beginner's Mind Benefits

Written by Janet Shlaes, PhD

Have you ever had the experience of arriving at your destination oblivious to what transpired between the time you left and the time you arrived? Perhaps you were focused on some unsolved problem, a prior interpersonal exchange or maybe you were just too tired to focus your attention on your surroundings. If this is your usual experience, you’re not alone. It’s common to move through your daily routine unmindful of the potential gifts in your seemingly ordinary surroundings.

I offer you an alternative to this unaware state of mind – embodying a Beginner’s Mind way of moving through the world. Beginner's Mind embodies the qualities of openness, enthusiasm, creativity, optimism and awe. Young children exemplify the Beginner’s Mindset, seeing and experiencing their world through freshness and wonder. Through Beginner's Mind, one is able to take in what is present in the moment. Things that adults characteristically ignore or take for granted become opportunities for curiosity, engagement and wonder. Beginner’s Mind empowers you to co-exist in the familiar from multiple perspectives - seeing beyond the surface to experience the formerly ordinary as extraordinary. 

Where in your life could you benefit from embodying a Beginner’s Mindset? I invite you to try this out for a week or two or three and notice the shift in the quality of your experience in the world.


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Friday, August 4, 2017

Forgiveness and Emotional Intelligence

by Janet Shlaes, PhD
Choosing forgiveness embodies the essence of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). It requires self-, other- and social-awareness, as well as the capacity to move beyond one’s present emotions to a more expansive state. Forgiveness, although often quite challenging, is a gift that you give to yourself - a gift that momentarily releases you from the past. The act of forgiveness requires letting go of something – a sense of injustice, disappointment, rage, perspective, desire, expectation, vision and/or hope. Forgiveness requires moving beyond what should have been to a place of coexisting with what occurred. This does not in any way suggest that you should agree with, condone or appreciate the action or situation that calls for your forgiveness, especially when faced with objectively dreadful situations that are out of your control and understanding.
Forgiveness is about taking back your power. The biggest misconception regarding forgiveness is that it’s a one-time endeavor – you simply forgive and the offending injustice is over. Quite the contrary. Forgiveness is an ongoing endeavor. You choose to engage in the act of forgiveness when the emotional charge from a past wrong invades your current reality. Unless you intentionally choose to forgive and momentarily let go of the past, your precious life force will be utilized in keeping the past alive.  Forgiveness is about freedom, focusing on what truly matters and stepping into the energy of courage and strength. According the Gandhi, “Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Would you rather be right or happy? Forgiveness is about choosing to be happy. What will you choose?

For additional commentaries to ponder, I invite you to browse the following links:
Optimal Performance Fundamentals

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Road to Happiness: Three Essential Skills

The Road to Happiness: Three Essential Skills

by Janet Shlaes, Ph.D.

People who tend to be happy live intentionally with regard to three core happiness skills. They understand that happiness is a choice, rather than a birthright and are committed to practicing these skills on a daily basis. They know exactly what they want, what constitutes their unique version of happiness and are proactive in their happiness journey. Happy people appreciate that happiness is a daily endeavor, rather than a absolute destination. Employing the three essential happiness skills detailed below can empower you to live a life of purpose, direction, passion and authentic happiness.


What makes you happy? On the surface, this seems like a simple question, however, getting to the heart of this question can be quite challenging for most. Why? Getting to the core of what makes you happy requires moving beyond externally generated messages regarding the “shoulds” of happiness and moving to a deeper level of awareness. Authentically answering this question requires honesty, courage and vulnerability. Your answer will greatly inform you about your deepest values, needs and motivators. It may also require letting go of people, possessions and circumstances that don’t align with your unique happiness narrative.


What are you willing to commit to as a means to bringing more happiness into your life? Once you have a working knowledge of your particular version of happiness, commitment enters the picture. Being fully committed to doing whatever it takes to create a fulfilling values-based life provides the requisite motivation and sustenance to move through any challenges that present on your journey. Commitment is rarely a one-time act; it requires returning to the primary question of what makes you happy and periodically reconnecting with your commitment to living a life of meaning and passion.


The skill of self-care is often the most difficult one to embrace; for some it feels selfish to focus on self-care when they have others to think of. Consider, however, the familiar instructions on airplanes where we are asked to put on our own oxygen mask and then take care of our loved ones. What if your happiness directly served to enhance the lives of those you care about? Your level of happiness positively impacts your relationships on a personal and professional basis. I’m not suggesting a life of pure self-focus at the expense of others, however, a lack of self-care will not serve anyone. Self-care is not a one size fits all feat. For some, self-care may include a healthy lifestyle via exercise or diet. For others it may involve hobbies, socializing, being in nature, reading, etc. What matters is that your approach to self-care provides positive benefits to you and others in your personal and professional lives.

Happiness is a choice and a life-long endeavor requiring self-awareness, commitment to doing whatever it takes and intentionality with regard to self-care. What is your unique version of happiness? What are you willing to do to bring more happiness into your life?


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