Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is something we can practice all year-long. You can be grateful for people, places and things.

People Gratitude

Gratitude can be given to those who we work with, live with, play with or chance encounter. Gratitude does not have to  cost a thing. But it can be also given in the form of a note, email or token gift. I am grateful for my family, friends, clients  and colleagues. I am also grateful for the friendly staff at my local supermarket who brighten my day.

Places or Event Gratitude

If you have ever experienced joy in a specific location or at an event, you can be grateful just in the experience. Sometimes there are people to thank, other times it is just the connection of circumstances that can make you grateful for experiencing the moment. I am grateful for starry clear nights, my home, and recent family trip to Wyoming and the impromptu tailgate we had at a windy intersection.

Things or Object Gratitude

Some people make a list of the top  objects or things that make them happy. For me it is my comfortable chair, my atomic clock, my latest fiction book I am reading in the evening.

Take some time to think about who, what and where you are grateful. It is a great exercise to work on this time of the year.

Modified from Terry's Thinking Blog December 2010.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ask Good Questions

Do you ask questions? The questions we need or want to ask are often the ones that help us find the answers.

Questions work best if they are relatively short and direct. Complex questions can get us bogged down in terms of perspective and framework as well as intention. Extremely complex questions can also confuse the person who is suppose to be answering them.  A complex question may not get answered because the "answerer" may loose his or her sense of place. 

Gary Lockwood, a business coach said "a significant reason to ask good questions is to help the person you are asking. Asking well-crafted, intelligent questions causes people to think profoundly. When someone thinks more deeply than before, new ideas, new answers and new possibilities emerge".

Everyone asks questions throughout their day and life. They can be internal questions or external ones. Take for example the internal question Shall I work on this task or another? This small question will drive our actions. By making sure your internal questions are positive, you can have more impetus to move forward. A negative internal question creates a bad starting attitude and may delay your progress. Shall I work on this mind numbing task or quit for the day? Work to compose your internal questions to get the best results.
External questions such as Do you (my boss) want me to work on this assignment now?, can be altered by inflection of the voice or a significant pause. Do you want me to work on this assignment NOW? can be taken as a passive aggressive statement. So be mindful of how you present your questions as much as choosing what to ask.  

When you ask questions is also an important factor. A question answered by a tired individual or someone who wants to leave the room is likely not to be as good as from someone who is refreshed and energized. Make your questions count, choose to ask them in the best possible time. When the timing is bad try to communicate at a later time. Delayed questions may still be answered, and in fact getting better results. 

Spend some time over the next few weeks observing how you ask questions. Review if your questions are getting answered. See if your questions get thoughtful answer. If your answers are not clear start working on your questioning skills. 

Working on our questions is a lifelong journey. In the words of Francis Bacon - "Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much". Improve your questioning skills and improve your life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Learn from Autumn Leaves

A new neighbor of mine, recently stated to a fellow neighbor who was raking leaves. If only we had a penny for every leaf. I had never heard that particular expression before. It certainly makes for a good laugh. Something we all need when we are faced with a leaf strewn driveway and yard full of leaves. 

Fall brings us leaves to rake and splendid color. Fall is a time of thanks, reflection and review. As the leaves change and the days get shorter we seem to have more time to review our lives and take stock for planning our future. Unless of course, we are tired from raking leaves.

Here is a poem that speaks to the nature of leaves. 

Fall, leaves, fall;

by Emily Jane Brontë (1818 - 1848)

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

I shall sing when night's decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

Top photo by Joe. Bottom illustration by Kacei. Modified from 2007 posting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Change Your Attitude

Change and transition's are generally difficult. If you have been involuntarily made to change, a change of attitude may make a big difference.

Three ways to change or transition your attitude:
  1. Try looking at things with a perspective outside of yourself.
  2. Visualize a good outcome and rethink strategically how to get to that place.
  3. Be grateful you have to experience this discomfort and appreciate the insightful lesson's you will learn.
Growth comes from change. Start with changing your attitude. You will enjoy the journey much more.

Read about other concepts of change