Find A Special Place to Think

Our brain processes an unlimited amount of information everyday.  Think aboutFind Your Special Place it.  Data coming at us through our work, radio, social media, newspapers, commute time, television, video and the list goes on.  

How can anyone keep up with it all?  In Shawn Achor’s, bestselling book Before Happiness,  we can benefit from some very helpful tips he gives on how to separate the noise from the valuable. Before sharing them, I would like to first highlight something he doesn’t mention which I feel is really important.  That is to create a special place dedicated to helping you to do your best thinking! I have several “thinking places” because my topics vary and require a different kind atmosphere.  When it comes to thinking and planning around life and family, there isn’t a better place than my old brown leather sofa at home.  I love its big “end arm” that allows me to curl up with a warm blanket and my favorite tea with honey and just a pinch of sugar.  It is also here where I pray.  Not only is it important to have a special place to think, but the time dedicated to do the thinking.  For me, family and prayer thinking time usually happens very early in the morning (swap the tea for coffee) or very late at night. And for work – it’s the treadmill.  I am big Paul Simon fan and I love to think while listening to tunes like Me and Julio Down By the School Yard or She’s Got Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes. The music is fun, cheery with a great beat – and I always finish with some new ideas or possible solutions to whatever I am working on.  Yes, identifying a special place to think about things is really important.  But to be successful – you will have to block out the noise.  For family and prayerful thinking, the television is off and all is pretty quiet.  Treadmill thinking is the exact opposite – music is loud with lots of people movement at the gym.  But in either place, my mind is focused only on those things – I cancel any “noise” that could distract me.achor 

Now for Shawn’s tips on how to “cancel” the noise so that you are better equipped at taking in information that is going to provide some value:

Don’t Take in the Unusable: Only take in information that will REALLY alter some aspect of your behavior.  Sadly, most of the information that floods your brain on a daily or even an hourly basis fits into the “unusable” category.  For example, don’t dwell on news stories about events that you cannot do anything about through a continuous change in your behavior (something that would alter what you do regularly).

Avoid the Untimely: Don’t take in information that you aren’t going to use imminently. If you intend to hold stocks for the long run, why check the stock market each day?

Hypothetical: It is based on what someone believes “could be” instead of “what is.” Economic and weather forecasts head the list. “What if you could have back all the minutes of your life you’ve spent listening to predictions – 90 per cent of which have been wrong?” he asks in the book.

Anything Distracting: It takes you away from your goals. Things that distract me include dumb emails; meeting invitations that are not directly tied to my own work priorities and goals, too much “water cooler” chatter, annoying commuters (yes I will definitely get up and move if I am sitting next to Ms. Sniffles).

Shawn’s book is chock full of recommendations and tips on how to ensure happiness. The Happiness Advantage is also a great read. It is not that he wants us to shut the world out, but to focus on the things that are really meaningful,” And to bookend that, TRUTHSTOINSPIRE recommends that you create a special place just to think about whatever is really important after you’ve blocked out all the noise.  Thinking about prayer, family, home, or work matters are really worth creating that special place for you to do your best thinking.


Tips for Communicating with Confidence & Dressing “Right” for the Occasion

I just came back from a large 2 day conference that offered a great opportunity to network with others in my field. confidenceThe location was great, I met lots of interesting people and left with some new ideas.  As I perused the conference center and participated in various round-table discussions, I began to notice the different techniques men and women used to introduce themselves.  In this type of setting, speaking with confidence and ease is key to establishing a strong first impression.  In this post, I offer some tips on how to maintain a powerful presence and communicate with confidence.  While I am not a fashion guru, I do offer some advice on style and attire.

high heels

Not a good idea if you have to walk all day

Shoulders and Shoes are high impact aspects of how others will perceive you.  Men have it easier in this category than women do when it comes to feet.  They can  wear comfortable “walking” shoes and have learned through the years how important it is to stand straight with shoulders broad and back.  Throughout the conference I couldn’t help but notice that the women wearing those painful pointy high heels didn’t capture the same “presence” as the women wearing a stylish yet comfortable pair of shoes.  The high-heelers tended to shift back and forth as they spoke.  The swaying became more of a distraction and took away from a strong “stand” in the networking circle.  Clearly, the shifting was happening to alleviate pressure on foot by moving it to the other.  Point goes to the guys.  Women please wear shoes that you don’t have to think about at your event.  You want your attention to focus on the conversation, not on how to stand so that your feet don’t hurt. If your feet hurt, your shoulders will naturally curl and you’ll lose your solid strong shoulders presence.  In my case, I wore a cool pair of leopard style flats.  They were comfortable, wearable for the duration and added some dash to my outfit.

These were great shoes to wear at an event that required all day walking

These were great shoes to wear at an event that required all day walking

2. Crisp Suit and Shirt. One of the group discussions was led by 2 men working for the same company.  They dressed differently. One wore the traditional crisp white shirt and suit.  The other a polo shirt, dockers and sports jacket. Most of the people in that session were dressed in formal business clothes.  As both speakers went through their talk, the gentlemen in the suit seemed to be more relaxed and connected better with the audience.  The other more casually dressed speaker didn’t have the same impact standing alongside someone who had clearly dressed more fittingly for the event.  They each went through their presentations and concluded with an invitation to answer any questions. All the questions went to the guy wearing the formal business attire.  I do believe that his dressing right for the occasion (in similar fashion with the audience) contributed to the better connection. The main takeaway here is to know your audience and dress accordingly.  It is always better to fare on the side of “business” than too casual.

3.  Listen More Speak Less.  Not easy to do.  No one is comfortable during the  conversation pause. The tip here is to show interest in the other person.  Let them tell you about what they do and why they are there.  Be a good listener.  During a customer reception, one lady in the group dominated the entire discussion, interrupting others and even tried to describe another person’s job function.  No one liked her.  Slowly and surely, the group started to get smaller.  People left the circle.  I was the last person with her staying in part because I felt bad to make up an excuse to leave and also because she complimented my leopard flats 🙂 so I continued to listen to her story.

4.  Be present.  According to Shawn Achor’s new book, “before happiness”, our brain can only process forty bits of information per second every minute of  every day – choosing from among eleven million pieces of information our senses are receiving.  The people who were the best net workers were those who were “present” in the conversation.  They didn’t constantly check their email, look at their watch, or simply nod when someone asked a question.  They were paying attention and were genuinely interested in the dialog.  Key here is to be ready to dedicate your time and focus on what you are doing in the moment. Participating means more than showing up.  It means being present in “mind” and body.

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