Word-Of-the-Week #858: Grateful

January 14, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Gratefulwarmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful.

Have you thanked your family and friends for the gifts or treats you received over the holidays? Did anyone thank you for yours? How did that make you feel?

This week features excerpts the San Diego UT by Sandi Dolbee, Celebrating the power of these two words: Thank you. Researchers have found that saying those two, single-syllable words can yield big rewards in our spiritual and physical health.

 “Saying “thank you” is good for you. 

Seriously, good for you.

 In study after study, from here to Tel Aviv, researchers have found that saying those two, single-syllable words can yield big rewards in our spiritual and physical health. 

In one project, participants were put into two groups, with one group asked to write about things they were grateful for and the other asked to keep track of the irritations they encountered. After 10 weeks, the folks in the first group were not only more optimistic but actually had fewer visits to their doctors. 

Another study found partners who expressed their thanks to each other had healthier relationships. 

And a UCSD study of patients with asymptomatic heart failure found that those who had higher gratitude scores, using a six-item scale, were associated with better sleep, more energy and even lower levels of inflammation, which can worsen heart failure. 

Part of the upside can be explained this way: Saying and hearing thank you causes the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions. 

But here’s the curious part: a national survey funded some years back by the John Templeton Foundation found that while most of us know how important gratitude is, we do a lousy job of actually thanking people. As the findings put it, “A significant gratitude gap exists in America.” 

The Rev. Reginald Gary doesn’t have to be convinced. Gary, who has been senior pastor of New Creation Church of San Diego for 25 years, believes this painless phrase is “vitally important” to our mental stability and to doing good in the world. 

“I think one of the reasons we have so much anger and grief in the world is that people don’t feel appreciated, affirmed and celebrated — and the two simple words ‘thank you’ does so much more than you can ever know,” he says. 

Gary thinks saying it and hearing it motivates us to do keep doing good deeds. “It’s one of the best things you can hear.” 

So why don’t we express it more often? 

“I think some people have different levels of gratitude,” Gary tells me. “They think what you’ve done for them is something you’re obligated to do for them.” He’s seen it first-hand. “There have been times in my life and ministry that I’ve done things for people and they have just taken it and gone, with never a word of thanks.” 

“I think you lead by example,” he says. He advocates teaching children to say it just as soon as they are able to talk. He remembers feeding his now-grown children when they were in highchairs. When they were done eating, he’d remind them to say thank you to he or his wife. “So now it’s just automatic.” 

He says “thank you” for both what he has and what he’s been spared. As he puts it: “The key is to be thankful for all the things that make you smile but also be thankful that you don’t have a lot of things that make you frown.”

“If you know anything at all about the science of happiness, you know that gratitude is great for our wellbeing,” writes columnist Jessica Stillman in Inc. Magazine. “It rewires your brain for positivity, boosts your energy levels and if your thankfulness is directed at someone else, makes the receiving party feel great.”

This New Year’s focus is on being grateful and expressing it! How many times in the past month have you said “Thank You” to someone?  Have you been able to feel thankful this past year even with all the craziness we have all experienced? Many people I know have expressed being grateful this past year for the unexpected things that have come their way!

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Word-Of-the-Week #857: Solution

January 7, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Solution – the act or process of solving a problem.

How good are you at solving problems? Do you want to ignore them and hope they’ll just go away? Or are you willing to confront the problem and work at coming up with a solution?

This week brings another profound piece from long time friend and fellow speaker Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor.

No Whining

Those who have been with me for awhile know I’m a firm believer in having as few rules as possible. Standards, yes. Rules? Not so much.

But there’s one rule I think is worth having and enforcing: No Whining. The policy might read something like this:

“It’s just a fact of life: there are always issues we need to address, and some people will get upset when these situations exist. The question is what you do about them. As the saying goes, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” 

When you see something needing correction, it’s your responsibility to bring it to the attention of someone who can fix it. When you do that, you’re being proactive and a supportive member of the team. You become are part of the solution. 

However, if you see something in need of correction and you DON’T bring it to someone who can fix it — or worse yet, if you waste any time at all complaining about it to someone who CAN’T fix your problem — you’re working against the best interests of the company, your co-workers and ultimately, our guests. You’re just whining and making yourself part of the problem. 

There are precious few issues beyond our collective power to resolve … but ignoring problems or whining about them only makes everyone’s work tougher. If you stay focused on finding solutions we’ll get along fine. But we don’t tolerate whining nor will we put up with anyone whose actions demonstrate they’re not part of the solution. 

There will always be problems of one sort or another in a business like ours. How you deal with them is your choice to make. Choose wisely.”

This week’s focus is on being part of the solution. If a situation arises do you bring it to the attention of someone who can fix it? Or better yet do you work on coming up with a solution?

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Word-Of-the-Week #856: Lesson

December 31, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Lessona useful piece of practical wisdom acquired by experience.

I want to end 2020 with something positive to ponder and I apologize for not being able to quote the author as it was sent to me in an e-mail.

  • I’ve learned …

That being kind is more important than being right.

  • I’ve learned …

That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

  • I’ve learned …

That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

  • I’ve learned …

That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

  • I’ve learned …

That when you’re in love, it shows.

  • I’ve learned …

That money doesn’t buy class

  • I’ve learned ….

That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

  • I’ve learned….

That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

  • I’ve learned …

That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in any other way.

  • I’ve learned….

That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

  • I’ve learned …

That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

  • I’ve learned …

That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

  • I’ve learned …

That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

  • I’ve learned …

That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

  • I’ve learned …

That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

  • I’ve learned …

That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

  • I’ve learned …

That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

  • I’ve learned …

That love, not time, heals all wounds.

  • I’ve learned …

That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

  • I’ve learned …

That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

  • I’ve learned …

That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

  • I’ve learned …

That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

  • I’ve learned …

That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

  • I’ve learned …

That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

  • I’ve learned …

That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

  • I’ve learned….

That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

  • I’ve learned …

That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, you’re hooked for life.

  • I’ve learned …

That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

  • I’ve learned…

That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

What lessons have you learned this year? And here’s to a Happy & Healthy New Year!

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Word-Of-the-Week #855: Kind

December 24, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Kind – having or showing a friendly, generous, sympathetic, or warm-hearted nature.

When was the last time you experienced a random act of kindness? How considerate are you of others? How willing are you to help someone without expecting anything in return?

This week brings another wonderful piece from Neil Senturia’s UT article, “Be kind, and put in the effort to be there for others.

“It’s getting to be the time of year when old times should be forgotten. If I had my way, that would include burying them. We are coming to the end of 2020. Of course, one dilemma with coming to the end of something is the realization that a couple days later, it starts all over again. You are never really outta here until the pine box shows up. 

Still, I am good with taking a short breath and seeking leadership and guidance on how exactly to navigate these waters. To that end, I turned to Professor Boris Groysberg, Harvard Business School. His advice starts with a quote from Henry James, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.” Henry does have a way with words, doesn’t he? 

Next, Groysberg lists the challenges we all face. Parenting, remote work, home schooling, isolation from loved ones, special needs children, caretakers, health care workers, financial strains, zoom and doom — there is not enough newsprint available to list them all. But in the end Groysberg decides that “the fundamental leadership strategy is the most innately human one: Be kind.”

Sounds simple, no? We all think we are. But when we look in the mirror, for sure we see some cracks. The techniques he suggests are reassurance (no, Bob, you are not going to lose your job, we can make it together), compassionate listening (yes, I can take some time to really listen to your concerns without interrupting you and making notes on my phone and thinking about my next meeting) and a “conscious effort to validate people’s fear and confusion”, (I know that you are afraid. That is perfectly rational at this time, but let’s trust together that the company will survive, and you will too.) 

A survey of psychiatrists (I asked mine) shows that more than 42 percent of their new cases are associated with “these times we are living in.” See, the good news is that it is perfectly rational to be terrified and neurotic (finally the justification I have been seeking). 

Now, let’s take the other side of the coin. Groysberg is asking the CEO to exhibit all those kind behaviors, while at the same time navigating the tsunami of crap coming down on his head, financial pain, market woes, customers bailing out. This standing in the other guy’s shoes is not so easy — high heels, flats, wingtips or flip- flops. So, the practice of kindness cuts both ways. 

Ritchie Davidson, University of Wisconsin, says “Kindness is teachable. Practicing compassion can be compared to weight training.” It is not a weakness to be empathetic. Groysberg goes on, “Kindness is contagious as well as calming.” My assistant of 28 years, Ms. Rockstead, has a phrase for me when I am bouncing off the wall, “Breathe. Just breathe.” 

And of course, it is yoga that focuses a lot of its training on breathing. And breathing leads to calm and calm leads to reflection and the ability to see outside yourself, and finally by extension kindness is contagious. The Mayo Clinic says that “acts of kindness activate a part of our brain that releases oxytocin that makes us feel pleasure” and then in the workplace, this translates to improved morale and performance. 

Philo of Alexandria, 20 B.C., (I did a startup with him) says, “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” Groysberg offers a few concrete thoughts on how to practice kindness. 

“I hear you.” Make space for your employee to speak safely. Be present, don’t judge. Just listen. (This is good advice for marriages, as well). 

“Are you OK?” Be willing to provide comfort. Tell Betty it is OK to leave early to just get some extra rest. 

“What can we do to help?” Even if you can’t really help, be a sounding board. Tell her that you know she is doing the best she can. 

And finally, “I’m there for you.” (Feels like Groysberg might have lifted that from my first book.) Be available and in the moment. 

But the fishhook is that you can’t just say the words. You need to really be there, baby. And that is the hard work.” 

Rule No. 687: I hear you.

This week’s focus is on being kind. Do you feel and show empathy for others? Are you a good listener? Are you there for your friends, family or co-workers when they are in need of help or support?

And here’s to having some FUN & Happy Holidays!

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Word-Of-the-Week #854: Delight

December 17, 2020 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #854: Delight 

Delight something that gives great pleasure or enjoyment.

When was the last time you felt delight? How often have you taken time to take care of your own needs this past year?

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito.” ~African Proverb

The is the follow up to last week’s “8 Simple Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day,” By Krista Butler.

To recap:

1. Leave inspirational notes in random places.

2. Thank someone.

3. Be curious about someone.

4. Send a handwritten note.

5. Do something for yourself.

“Now this may seem a bit backward. How does doing something for yourself impact someone else?

Well, when you take care of your own needs, and give yourself some much-needed self-love, you fill up your own cup. And when your own cup is overflowing, that overflow is the love that flows to others. It’s a beautiful thing.

So take that bath, go to that dance class, go for a walk, and feel the goodness.

6. Make a playlist for someone.

Back in the day, I used to love making mix-tapes. I’d wait by my ghetto blaster, blank tape in the tape deck, and be on high alert to press the record button when my favorite songs came on.

These days, making music mixes are way less labor-intensive! You can make a playlist on YouTube in minutes. Make a specific playlist for someone in your life and send it to them. What an awesome surprise to both give and receive!

7. Take it to social media.

Instead of spending time lurking on Facebook and Twitter, choose three people to give a shout-out to! The guy you used to sit next to in science class, your cousin you haven’t seen in three years, the random person you connected with when you were traveling—post on their wall (or send a private message). Let them know you’re thinking of them.

8. Surprise with a gift.

Whether you send flowers to one of your friends at her workplace or buy a coffee for the person behind you in line, splurging and surprising someone else is a lot of fun.

Do you go to a coffee shop with a loyalty card? I collect all my stamps, and then once I accumulate my free coffee, I ask the barista to give it to the next person in line. It’s a thrill for me, the barista, and the person behind me who doesn’t suspect a thing!

When you brighten someone’s day, you are simultaneously stirring up positive energy within yourself. And you’ll carry this energy with you throughout your day. It’s a great feeling.

So I challenge you to ask yourself, how can something I do today surprise and delight another individual?”

This week’s focus is on bringing delight! Have you stayed in touch with friends and family this past year? When was the last time you surprised someone with a gift? Have you ever given a gift to a complete stranger?

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