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Wisdom: The Road Less Traveled to Well-Being

June 16, 2014

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Welcome to Week 3 of Summer of Well-Being! If you’ve been following our last few blogs, you know that I’m reading and writing about Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

Each week we also have been featuring a guest expert to share a tip on improving your well-being. If you missed those, make sure to check out Mary Trontz’ blog about Strengthening your Core, and Davis Mitchell’s vlog about Hydration.

This Thursday you’ll hear from Lina Acosta Sandaal about Emotional Well-Being. So much of what I teach through my courses and coaching has emotional intelligence at its core.  You simply cannot lead your life well or lead others successfully and meaningfully without having or acquiring this skill through practice. It’s one of the most difficult skills to master, because you have to be aware and in tune almost all the time. Lina teaches us a great way to practice this skill!

Last week we discussed the importance of Wonder for our wellness. I promised I’d report back on all the wonder I discovered on my vacation, and my promise to myself that I would not head to the office first thing on Monday with so much stress that my vacation would have been pointless!

Well, the vacation did not come without stress. My daughter ended up in one of the Bahamas’ medical centers, day 1, with what we thought was an eye infection. And, on day 4, she slammed into the pool wall, injuring her chin! Luckily, she is healing nicely and had lots of love and support during both incidents. I have to say that I kept it together and focused on all the positives, which were many! Being intentional about how I wanted to feel during and after my vacation really helped! In fact, I’d love to share with you my video below of the two dolphins—Exhuma and Robella, who were the cause of much WONDER and joy during our trip! We actually got to swim and play with them in the open ocean and experience their beauty and brilliance. And, it is my first morning back to work and I’m feeling great! A bit tired, but staying focused on getting things done with a Caribbean state of mind.


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Wisdom and Success

This week, I’d like to focus on the importance of Wisdom on our journey toward well being. In Thrive, Arianna Huffington describes it in this way:

“Wisdom frees us from the narrow reality we’re trapped in—a reality consumed by the first two metrics of success, money and power, long after they have ceased to fulfill us. Indeed, we continue to pull the levers not only after their diminishing returns have been exhausted, but even after it’s clear they’re actually causing us harm in terms of our health, our peace of mind, and our relationships. Wisdom is about recognizing what we’re really seeking: connection and love. But in order to find them, we need to drop our relentless pursuit of success as society defines it for something for genuine, more meaningful, and more fulfilling.”

When I read this I naturally want to question, “What is success, then, and how do we redefine it, understanding that the majority of our waking hours are spent trying to achieve ‘it’?” Maybe you have struggled with this question as well? In reading one of my favorite blogs—Sources of Insight, Zig Ziglar’s definition of success is:

“…closing the door on your office at the end of the day knowing that you did a good job and knowing that those that interacted with you had a positive experience.”

“…looking forward to getting home and seeing the people you love.”

“…turning out the lights and saying to yourself it just doesn’t get much better than this.”

When I read this definition I get excited! Yes, success should be measured (daily) by how we affect other’s lives positively, connecting with and loving others, being purpose-driven in all that we do, and being grateful. You with me?!!! All of these concepts are found in Thrive.

 

Wisdom and Time

In Thrive, Arianna refers to the epidemic of “time famine” and how it sucks the wonder and wisdom out of our lives. She shares,

“In order to manage our time—or what we delude ourselves into thinking of as managing time—we rigidly schedule ourselves, rushing from meeting to meeting, event to event, constantly trying to save a bit of time here, a bit there. We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on something fabulous, important, special, or career advancing. But there are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep all that time we ‘saved’. It’s actually a very costly way to live.”

How can “time famine” affect our well-being? A study led by Lijing L. Yan at Northwestern University found that young adults exhibiting time urgency and impatience had a higher risk of developing hypertension and weight gain. No surprise here! If this study measures young adults, can you imagine how adults who live unconsciously this way year after year are affected over time?

 

Wisdom and Habits

So much of wisdom is tuning into our minds, our hearts and our intuition. How can we put ourselves on a path to well-being if we are not aware of what is working and what is not working in our lives? In the book, Arianna shares what poet Mark Nepo says about this understanding:

 “(Sacrifice is) giving up with reverence and compassion what no longer works in order to stay close to what is sacred.” Arianna adds, “So recognizing when habits are no longer working for us and sacrificing them is a cornerstone of wisdom.”

I also appreciate what Arianna shares about “Keystone Habits” from Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit:

“Reprogramming the autopilot (in each of us) takes different amounts of time. What makes it easier is focusing on ‘keystone habits’; when you change one of them, it makes changing other habits easier. (This) starts a process that, over time, transforms everything. Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers.”

Arianna’s keystone habit was and continues to be sleep. By getting more sleep regularly she is able to more easily create other new well-being habits, such as meditation and exercise.

 

Finding Your Thread

In closing, I love a Greek Mythology story that Arianna shares about Ariadne (also Arianna’s given name), in which Theseus could be saved and free to return to Athens only if he entered the labyrinth and slew the Minotaur (monster, or our old habits!). All who had gone before him had perished, but Theseus, guided by the thread Ariadne had given him (what guides us back to our center; our core sacred being), was able to make his way into the labyrinth and come out of it alive and victorious. What a great analogy, huh?

So, here’s my challenge to you this week:

  1. What is your Keystone Habit? That one thing that you can do that will be the foundation for your path to well-being?
  2. Create one small action step to begin creating that Keystone Habit.
  3. Take a piece of thread that will remind you of your step and tie it around your wrist as a reminder.

Here’s a picture of mine! My Keystone Habit is movement! I’ve noticed the difference in every aspect of my life (especially how I sleep!) when I move—whether it’s yoga, walking, biking, dancing, etc. My step is to do a minimum of 20 minutes a day.

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Please share what your Keystone Habit is below, and I’d love for you to share a picture of your Thread! Thanks for tuning in today. “-)

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

Photo courtesy of Neerav Bhatt

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