Word-Of-the-Week #796: Nothingness

November 7, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Nothingnessthat pleasant experience of enjoying time going by, letting your thoughts take over.

How comfortable are you spending time doing nothing? How often have you just sat in silence watching and listening to what was going on around you?

This week longtime friend and comrade Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, shares his perspective on spending time in Italy.

“The Italians have a philosophy of “dolce far niente” (dolce = sweet || far(e) = do || niente = nothing), literally: the sweet essence of doing nothing and enjoying it.  

Nothingness is that pleasant experience of enjoying time going by, letting your thoughts take over. It’s very much in the mentality of Italians. They are lucky enough to have the natural beauty of amazing landscapes, from the coasts and sea sides to the highest mountains along with a profound sense of history.

Dolce far niente is at its best where all that matters is living the moment. No stress, no pressure, nothing matters; just live in the moment, a ‘doing nothing’ moment.

Italians work hard, but they live to celebrate with good wine and a plate of pasta, no matter whether it is a normal everyday lunch or the most important holiday in the country. Dolce far niente is a way of thinking always fixed to the moment, in which you can finally ‘do nothing’ and enjoy it.

It’s the sensation when you sit at a bar in an Italian village while you drink coffee and watch the passersby. Time slows and for half a second you admire life in its simplicity, and you only want to smile.

Spending time in Italy always reminds me of the importance of slowing down to the speed of life and just enjoying the moment. I recommend it highly.

Have the courage to Do the Work! … even when that work is the bliss of doing nothing at all!” 

This week’s focus is on nothingness. When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? Did it make you smile? How often do you allow yourself to just “be in the moment?”

The picture above was taken on Halloween in San Miguel de Allende where we sat in the main square and did nothing but watch all the kids and the parent’s trick or treat and I must admit it made me smile and giggle 😊 and the one below had the exact same effect!

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Word-Of-the-Week #794: Attention

October 24, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Attentioncareful observing or listening.

Have you noticed lately the number of people that put their full attention on their cell phones? Do you see couples in restaurants playing with their phones instead of talking to each other? Are we turning into a texting, non-verbal society?

This is a follow up to last week’s WOW on communication. Do you know that people who are focused only on themselves, generally have never developed the ability to read others? Good communicators listen 60% to 70% and talk 30% to 40% of the time.

Dr. Lyman Steil says, “Most people listen but they don’t really hear. We need to over compensate and listen more to improve out comprehension.”

Want to create an instant connection with people? All you need to do is let them talk while you listen! And that means to focus, give them your full attention, and become a careful observer.

If you want to be successful you need to really listen to your customers, guests, members, clients (and loved ones) so that you can fulfill their needs. You need to pay attention in order to serve them well, and to handle any problems or challenges that may arise.

And this feedback from longtime friend and subscriber Joe, “Susan: The key is listening. 

There have been countless times where I have said something, using the words that would express EXACTLY what I wanted done, and afterward I found that it was not done the way that I wanted it done in the first place. 

One of the things that I always do when getting instructions from my wife or anyone for that matter, is to simply make eye contact and listen. When my wife wants to give me directions somewhere, I always tell her to WRITE IT DOWN! That is the best way for me to remember where it is, I am going. 

Listening, vocal intonations and eye contact have been lost in our lives due to texting and tweeting. As I have told numerous people over the past few years, most people are not very good writers so to expect them to clearly describe what they want to say in 140 to 200 characters is fruitless. This happens with many of my relatives who just don’t express themselves well in writing. When it is pointed out, their response is to apologize. 

The miscommunication due in part to texting and tweeting results in wasted time. 

Hopefully people can get back to actually speaking, listening and HEARING what others have to say.”

This week focus on putting more attention on the people around you instead of yourself. How would it feel to spend more time listening and less time speaking? Do you think you have developed the ability to read others? Carefully observing to see if their face, eyes, voice, and body reinforce their words or detract from them?

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Word-Of-the-Week #793: Communication

October 17, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #793: Communication 

Communicationputting oneself into close connection or relationship with another person to create complete understanding.

Have you ever had a conversation that was totally misunderstood? You thought you were being very clear, and it just wasn’t? Do you ever repeat back what you heard just to make sure you understood it correctly?

A quote I use in my programs comes from one of my favorite cartoons, Kathy. She says, “My words came out fine. They were processed incorrectly by your brain!” How many times has that happened to you? You think you are speaking clearly, and the other person just doesn’t get it.

We all have different filters and images in our brains. I will never forget the conversation I had with one of my audience members. I said, “When I get a real job, I want to be a cocktail waitress at a pool bar.”

Her reply was, “How could you stand all that smoke?” I’m sure I had a puzzled look on my face, and it took me a few seconds to realize that she had an image of a billiard hall. My image was in Maui, or some other exotic place, and I was outside having FUN serving cocktails and food around the pool!

One of the best things you can do when you are serving your guests, customers, members or clients is to always repeat back what they say. (This works for family members too!) And that way there is no misunderstanding. When it comes to taking and filling orders it will save you lots of time and hassle because you will get it right the first time.

This week’s focus is on clear communication. Do you give your full attention to the person communicating with you? Did you know that good communicators listen 60 to 70 percent of the time and only speak 30 to 40 percent of the time? Practice listening and repeating back what you hear.

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Word-Of-the-Week #792: Forgiveness

October 11, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #792: Forgiveness 

Forgiveness the act of not blaming or holding resentment against (someone or something).

How willing are you to forgive someone? Does it depend on who they are? Or what they did?

I received a calendar with daily inspirational messages from my dear sweet friend Carol at the beginning of the year and the message for the month of October is this week’s WOW.

It reads, “Every experience I have ever had has served as a stepping-stone for me, including any so-called mistakes, which have actually been very valuable to me. I shift my focus from blaming myself to loving myself for my willingness to learn and grow. This month I feel only gratitude for where I am in life, and for all of the rich wisdom I have acquired along the way.” 

Excerpted from Psychology Today writer Beverly Engel L.M.F.T. says this, “We hear a lot about the importance of forgiving those who have harmed us, but what about forgiving ourselves? Is that important as well? I believe that it is. 

When we harm someone it is normal and healthy to feel bad about it, to experience regret and to wish we could take it back or do something to make the person feel better. What isn’t healthy is to continually beat ourselves up for our offense and to determine that we are a bad person because of it. The first experience is generally thought of as guilt while the second is considered to be shame.  

Some have explained the difference between shame and guilt as follows: When we feel guilt, we feel bad about something we did or neglected to do. When we feel shame, we feel bad about who we are. When we feel guilty, we need to learn that it is okay to make mistakes. When we feel shame we need to learn that it is okay to be who we are. 

I believe that self-forgiveness is the most powerful step you can take to rid yourself of debilitating shame. This is particularly true for those who have been abused, but it applies to everyone. Self-forgiveness is not only recommended but absolutely essential if we wish to become emotionally healthy and have peace of mind. It goes like this: The more shame you heal, the more you will be able to see yourself more clearly—the good and the bad. You will be able to recognize and admit how you have harmed yourself and others. Your relationships with others will change and deepen. More importantly, your relationship with yourself will improve. 

If you have learned from your mistake, and do not wish to repeat it, then you no longer need to feel guilt or shame about it. Forgive yourself and let it go.”

This week’s focus is on self-forgiveness. How much shame or guilt do you carry from past mistakes? Have you learned from your mistakes?

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Word-Of-the-Week #791: Benevolence

October 3, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #791: Benevolence 

Benevolence an act of kindness.

How would you rate yourself on being caring and helpful? When was the last time you received a random act of kindness? How did it make you feel?

This week features excerpts from the LA Times article by Teresa Watanabe “The Science of Kindness” is a great follow up to last weeks. A friendly smile. A food pantry donation. Or, a remarkable act of Los Angeles benevolence — allowing a driver to cut in front of you.

Such acts of kindness have a self-serving upside, too, as science has conclusively shown they also make you healthier.

Now UCLA is poised to advance that science with the Wednesday launch of the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness, which will explore, for instance, how and why being nice to others reduces depression and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Research by UCLA scientists already has shown that mindfulness and kindness actually alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers, and turning up the activity of genes that protect against infections.

But the ultimate goal of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute is to spread kindness and promote a more humane world. “In the midst of current world politics, violence and strife, the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute seeks to be an antidote,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA division of social sciences, which will house the venture.

Researchers agreed on an academic definition for kindness: an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself. When it comes to kindness, the intention, rather than the outcome, is key. In other words, it’s the thought that counts, as the adage goes.

Kindness is complimenting someone to make them feel good, not to get what you want. It’s sending a donation to a charity even if the check gets lost in the mail. It’s contemplating a legitimate reason why a driver who cuts you off might be in a hurry.

“Cultivating kind thoughts increases the frequency of kind actions, and both the thoughts and the experience of engaging in the actions have positive effects on the well-being of the individual,” said Daniel Fessler, UCLA anthropology professor and the institute’s inaugural director.

Already, a range of UCLA researchers are studying the types of questions that will be the basis of the institute’s work, which will focus on three themes: the roots of kindness, how to promote it, and how to use it as a therapeutic intervention to improve mental and physical health.

Fessler said humans have come to dominate the globe, despite their relatively small size, because of their unparalleled ability to cooperate.

“As troubling as violence and cruelty are in our society, the actual level of positive cooperation is astounding at an evolutionary level,” he said. “Our species is a hyper-cooperative one. No other species is engaged in such a large level of cooperation among individuals who are not kin.”

But, he noted, humans also have a long history of violent inter-group conflict and cruelty. One researcher, UCLA sociologist Aliza Luft, is exploring cultural factors that not only promote cruelty but also lead some members of the dominant group to choose kindness instead — such as those “righteous Gentiles” who risked their lives to save Jews from Nazi persecution and the Holocaust.

UCLA researchers also have shown that kindness can significantly ease depression and anxiety. Michelle Craske, a professor of psychology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, has demonstrated that patients who received compassion training to cultivate joy, gratitude, loving-kindness and generosity, and engaged in kind acts — offering to help coworkers on projects, for instance — significantly reduced their depression. The improved mental health lasted throughout the six months researchers followed the patients, she said.

“My end goal is to have a broad platform to promote empathy and help people think about kindness,” Harris said. “It is, in terms of the perpetuation of our species and the ability to live with each other and nature, critically important.”

This week’s focus is on benevolence. When was the last time you expressed kindness for a complete stranger? How did it make you feel? How willing are you help a co-worker or friend with a project?

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