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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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WELCOME TO WEEK 2 OF SUMMER OF WELL-BEING!

I’m excited to continue our conversation about achieving increased well-being in our lives on small step at a time. Today, I continue to blog about Ariana Huffington’s new book, Thrive, and the magic of wonder in our lives. And, on Thursday, you’ll meet our next guest expert, Davis Mitchell! You won’t want to miss her vlog, so make sure to subscribe if you haven’t already!


“We forget we’re mostly water till the rain falls and every atom in our body starts to go home.”

This thought provides me with a great way to begin today’s blog about Wonder, one of the ways Arianna Huffington suggests we can achieve the “Third Metric” of success in her new book, Thrive. Arianna believes that,

“Wonder is not just a product of what we see—of how beautiful or mysterious or singular or incomprehensible something may be. It’s just as much a product of our state of mind, our being, the perspective from which we are looking at the world.”

 

Singing in the Rain.

I am honored to be a part of a wonderful mastermind group, Smart Women Making Money, led by fellow speaker and coach, Mina Shahwho also will be one of our featured experts for our Summer of Well-Being. Last month, one of our assignments was to select a person in our lives who we wanted to spend more focused, purposeful time with. I chose my daughter, Nia, who is 9 years old, and not coincidentally, full of wonder!

I realize daily that spending more focused moments with her allows our bond to grow deeper, in a way that we are both seeking. One of the commitments I made to this goal was to say “yes” to her more, rather than hearing the words “not right now” float out of my mouth almost unconsciously. One of those moments in which I said “yes” was last weekend, when she wanted to ride bikes to the park. Instead of reading, or doing more work, which are both very easy for me, I said “yes” and off we were.

I enjoy these times together more and more. I notice how her confidence is building as she rides her bike, which takes me back to my childhood; riding my bike was one of my favorite past times! She rides with one hand instead of two, speeds up and brings her legs up onto the handle bars and says, “look at what I can do, Mom!” She feels strong, and I love that. We notice lots of little things we never would otherwise, like how all the lizards seems to jump out in front of us just as we are about to pass, a scary thought for Nia, since she never wants to harm another living thing. She sees and hears the birds and knows the name of each and every one. I’m supposed to teach her, I think to myself, but she is teaching me. Wonder is everywhere!

The best part of this ride, though, is what came next. We were at the park exercising and playing when it started sprinkling. Little by little all the people in the park disappeared into their cars and left. A downpour ensued and the only refuge we had was a small 3 x 4 space under the dinosaur slide. I don’t know how we fit under there, but we made it work! We took cover for a bit, until we realized the rain wasn’t stopping and our bikes were soaked anyway. Like excited little girls, giggling, we decided to go for it!

Out we ran to our bikes and off we were into the rain, heading back home. The water felt refreshing, and the giggling never ended! We rode through puddles, sang songs, and laughed at all the passerby’s feeling sorry for us. The best part was getting home and hearing Nia say, “Mom, we have to do this again!”

I wondered, “What if I hadn’t said yes?” Our experience was filled with wonder that I would not have had otherwise; an experience I wouldn’t change for the world.

This is just one example of how wonder can fill our moments and give more meaning to our lives. For many reasons, including the personal story I shared with you last week in The Accident that Woke me Up, I continue to redefine what success truly means for me, and create more and more moments to experience the wonder in my life.

The meaning of success also was addressed in this part of Thrive, when Arianna shares what one very expensive study showed about success.

            “And now we have the empirical data to back up what the songs and sacred texts have told us. As Professor George Vaillant, who oversaw the Harvard Grant Study, which followed the lives of 268 male Harvard undergraduates beginning in 1938, put it, ‘The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points, at least to me, to a straightforward five-word conclusion: Happiness is love. Full stop.’ It is the same conclusion reached without spending seventy-five years and $20 million by the English poet Ted Hughes: ‘The only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.’”

This also reminds me of a video I saw on the Today Show, celebrating D-Day, where the then 18-year-old Coast Guard officer who led one of the ships full of “boys” to Omaha Beach emotionally shared, “There’s a fallacy that when men die they call for God. They don’t, they say Mamma.”

Wow. As a Mom, this was so powerful for me; making me crave more and more wondrous moments with my son and daughter.

Now, when thinking of success, I think no one says it better than Paulo Coelho:

“What is success? It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”

 

When vacation causes more stress!

In Thrive, Arianna shares a study by Fierce Inc., which states that 58% of workers feel absolutely no reduction in stress from their vacations, and 28% return even more stressed than they were before they left.”

Yikes! I can relate to this, can you? It just so happens that as this blog posts, I’ll be on a boat with my family—on our way to a week-long vacation. You can bet that on my mind will be WONDER and how I can be open to it and seek it actively while on vacation, ensuring I’m not one of the statistics, this time!

Taking this further, I ask myself, and I ask you, “What’s the point of reading all these blogs and books that will help us live better lives if we don’t take action?”

I believe in action in small bites. Try something new. Assess it. If it makes you feel good, try to make it a new habit. Otherwise, seek the next small bite. For my vacation this week, this is what will be my inspiration,

“No matter where you go, there you are.” –Buckaroo Banzai

 

Life’s Secret Door to Wonder

I love that Arianna discusses coincidences, and being open to them, as a way to seek wonder in our lives. She shares,

“We don’t have to know what coincidences mean, or arrive at some grand conclusion when we encounter them. But they serve as sporadic reminders to maintain our sense of wonder, to stop every now and again and allow ourselves to be fully present in the moment and open to life’s mystery. They’re a sort of forced reboot.”

Because I study strengths and personality traits, I know that some of us are better built for expecting wondrous things to happen. Many of us naturally wake up each morning and say to ourselves, “I can’t wait to see what life shows me today!” I don’t know about you, but that life view certainly will create more wondrous moments versus, “Oh no, not another day!”

What’s your perspective, and can shifting toward expecting wonder and coincidences reduce the daily stress you feel and lighten things up?

This week, I encourage you as a part of your path toward well-being to challenge yourself to seek the wonder…the coincidences and see how your overall energy changes and lifts. I’d love for you to share with me below what you notice and new meaningful moments of wonder you’ve created.

I also invite you to subscribe to our Summer of Well-Being if you haven’t done so already. On Thursday you’ll receive a vlog from our next expert, Davis Mitchell, who will share another great wellness tip with you to consider incorporating into your life. I know you’re just going to love her! She is beautiful inside and out.

Davis Mitchell

I’d love to read your comments below.

Namaste, my friends!

Monique