Salve Regina



I love the unexpectedness of this video — the juxtaposition of a monk shredding the streets — using his natural talents in his chosen vocation. The backstory is fascinating:

Friar Gabriel skated for 7 years as a teenager, but felt his vocation was religious life. He was prepared to abandon his passion for skateboarding to live a life of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience as Friars of the Immaculate. Six years after becoming Friars and having not skated, he was given obedience to obtain a skateboard and go to the skatepark once a week – to “preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words” as Saint Francis stated. Friar Gabriel explains that God has so many ways of using peoples talents to give Him glory. Skateboarding allows the Friars to help others see the compatibility of exercising the body as well as the soul.





Thursday Thought



Drucker

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Peter Drucker





Feel Starved for Time? Here’s a Surprising–and Easy–Solution



Photo by Scott King

Photo by Scott King

Although I presumably spent most of my childhood daydreaming, I seldom do it anymore. Occasionally, I’ll catch myself spacing out in the shower, just standing there, and I’ll try to hustle myself back on track, lest I waste any more time or water.

Rarely do we just let ourselves stare into space these days. Like many people, I feel uncomfortable when I’m not doing something, uncomfortable “wasting time.”

We humans have become multi-tasking productivity machines. We can work from anywhere, to great effect. We can do more, and do it far more quickly, than we ever dreamed possible. Our fabulous new technologies buy us tons more time to crank out our work, get through our emails, and keep up with Modern Family. Time my great-grandmother spent making food from scratch, or hand-washing the laundry, we can now spend, say, driving our kids to their away games.

So now that we have so much more time to work and do things previous generations never dreamed possible (or even deemed desirable), why do we always feel starved for time?

The obvious answer is that we have so much more work, and expectations about what we will accomplish on a good day have expanded, but the number of hours in that day have stayed the same.

That’s true, but I also think there is something else at work here: We have gotten really, really bad at just doing nothing.

Look around: We can’t even stand to wait in an elevator for 10 seconds without checking our smartphones. I’m endlessly fascinated by a new series of studies where the research subjects were put alone in a room, with nothing to do. The researchers describe their work:

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.

You read that right: Many people (67 percent of men and 25 percent of women, to be exact) actually gave themselves painful electric shocks instead of just sitting there doing nothing–after they had indicated to the researchers that they would pay money NOT to be shocked again. One guy shocked himself 190 times in 15 minutes.

This brings me back to my main point: Stillness–or the ability to just sit there and do nothing–is a skill, and as a culture we’re not practicing this skill much these days. When we can’t tolerate stillness, we feel uncomfortable when we have downtime, and so we cancel it out by seeking external stimulation, which is usually readily available in our purse or pocket. Instead of just staring out the window on the bus, for example, we read through our Facebook feed. We check our email waiting in line at the grocery store. Instead of enjoying our dinner, we mindlessly shovel food in our mouths while staring at a screen.

Here’s the core problem with all of this: We human beings need stillness in order to recharge our batteries. The constant stream of external stimulation that we get from our televisions and computers and smart phones, while often gratifying in the moment, ultimately causes what neuroscientists call “cognitive overload.” This state of feeling overwhelmed impairs our ability to think creatively, to plan, organize, innovate, solve problems, make decisions, resist temptations, learn new things easily, speak fluently, remember important social information (like the name of our boss’s daughter, or our daughter’s boss), and control our emotions. In other words, it impairs basically everything we need to do in a given day.[i]

But wait, there’s more: We only experience big joy and real gratitude and the dozens of other positive emotions that make our lives worth living by actually being in touch with our emotions–by giving ourselves space to actually feel what it is we are, well, feeling. In an effort to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that stillness can produce (such as the panicky feeling that we aren’t getting anything done), we also numb ourselves to the good feelings in our lives. And research by Matt Killingsworth suggests that actually being present to what we’re feeling and experiencing in the moment–good or bad–is better for our happiness in the end.

Here’s the main take-away: If we want to be high-functioning and happy, we need to re-learn how to be still. When we feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for us to get everything done, when we wish for more time… we don’t actually need more time. We need more stillness. Stillness to recharge. Stillness so that we can feel whatever it is that we feel. Stillness so that we can actually enjoy this life that we are living.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed and time-starved: Stop. Remember that what you need more than time (to work, to check tasks off your list) is downtime, sans stimulation.

As a society, we don’t just need to learn to tolerate stillness, we actually need to cultivate it. Fortunately, it’s not complicated. Try driving in silence, with your radio and phone off. (Encourage your children to look out the window while you drive them, instead of down at their devices.) Eat meals out of the sight and sound of your phones and televisions. Take a walk outside every day, preferably in nature, without a phone or music player. If it’s hard, just try a few minutes at a time, adding a few minutes each day. Just practice; it’ll get easier, and the benefits will become more apparent.

Finally, forgive yourself the next time you find yourself staring blankly into space. You aren’t wasting time. You’re catching up on your stillness.

If this post resonates with you, I bet you’ll love my new stress reduction tele-seminar! James Baraz will be joining me to talk about practical and easy ways to find stillness. We’ll be talking about how to be productive, well-rested, and happy — even during the busy holiday season.

Reserve your spot now…

[i] Goleman, Daniel. 2013. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. Harper.





Low-Stress, High-Joy Holidays: Here’s How The Experts Do It



My new tele-series kicks off today!

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   reneeptrudeau   2aaa16c   katrinaalcorn

.

Please join me for 3 fun conversations designed to teach simple but critical skills for reducing the stress in our busy lives. We’ll be talking about how to be productive, well-rested, and happy — even during the busy holiday season.

.
  • Tomorrow, November 5: How to Achieve More by Doing Less.

    Renee Peterson Trudeau, life balance coach and author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life and I will tell you our secret to our high efficiency and high productivity.

    .
  • November 12: How to Find Stillness in a Storm.

    James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy,  and I will talk about how to find calm in a world where busy-ness is a marker of importance, and overwhelm is the rule of the day.

    .
  • November 19: How Not to Have a Breakdown.

    Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink, and I will share our personal low-points balancing our demanding careers and our families. This will be a rich discussion about the tension between the societal forces that make work-life balance hard, and the practical things that we can do as individuals to find ease and joy.

All 3 calls will include Q&A and will be held at noon Pacific time. If you can’t make the live calls, you can download them later and listen anytime you’d like.

Access to this Teleseries is Simple

.

This teleseries is a preview of my new book, THE SWEET SPOT: How to Find Your Groove at Home and WorkI’m excited to start sharing this book with you now – even though it won’t be in stores until January. To access the teleseries,  pre-order The Sweet Spot and send a copy of your receipt to thesweetspot@christinecarter.com. We’ll give you immediate access to the teleseries!

I hope you’ll join us on these exciting calls!

Christine_signature

 





Happiness Tip: Use the Time Change to Your Benefit



Paris Clocks

Image by Nicksarebi

Moving our clocks this weekend changed our bodies’ principal cue (light) for keeping time with our circadian rhythm. This causes us to be temporarily jet-lagged, or out of sync with our 24-hour wake/sleep schedule, making a lot of us a feel a little off our game.

Fortunately, we can use this time change to repay some of the sleep debt we’ve accumulated. To do that, we’ll need to go to bed early this week. I think this is the best week of the year to do this–if you go to bed at your normal time, say 11:00pm, you’ll be more tired than usual, because, to your body, you’ve just stayed up an hour late. Split the difference, and hit the hay a half hour early, say, at 10:30pm. When we’ve accumulated sleep debt, our bodies and brains soak up the extra sleep. Hopefully you’ll wake up feeling extra rested!

If you know you aren’t getting enough sleep, but you feel like you can’t get to bed early this week given everything else you’ve got going on, I’d like to challenge you on that.

Think for a minute about what you want to do with your one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver says. What are your highest priorities? Your health? Your happiness? High achievement at work or school? Raising happy and healthy children? Being the kind of person your friends and family want to hang out with? Here’s the truth: You will not fulfill your potential in any of these realms unless you get the sleep your body, brain, and spirit need. A mountain of research supports this claim.

Take Action: Adjust your sleep schedule this week so that you are getting 7+ hours of sleep (unless you are a teenager: then you need 9+ hours). If that seems impossible over the long run, commit to paying back some sleep debt this week, when it will likely be easier to fall asleep early.

Join the Discussion: What changes do you notice in yourself when you get more sleep? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Want more tips for sleeping well? My new book, The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work is loaded with tips for maximizing your beauty rest.

 





What a Baby Can Teach Us



One of the greatest things a baby can teach us is how to give affection without expecting anything in return.





Thursday Thought



adventure

 

This day is a journey, this very moment an adventure.

Rebecca Pavlenko





Low-Stress, High-Joy Holidays: Here’s How the Experts Do it



I’m so excited to be offering a new tele-series!

.

   reneeptrudeau   2aaa16c   katrinaalcorn

.

Please join me for 3 fun conversations designed to teach simple but critical skills for reducing the stress in our busy lives. We’ll be talking about how to be productive, well-rested, and happy — even during the busy holiday season.

.
  • November 5: How to Achieve More by Doing Less.

    Renee Peterson Trudeau, life balance coach and author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life and I will tell you our secret to our high efficiency and high productivity.

    .
  • November 12: How to Find Stillness in a Storm.

    James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy,  and I will talk about how to find calm in a world where busy-ness is a marker of importance, and overwhelm is the rule of the day.

    .
  • November 19: How Not to Have a Breakdown.

    Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out Mom, and I will share our personal low-points balancing our demanding careers and our families. This will be a rich discussion about the tension between the societal forces that make work-life balance hard, and the practical things that we can do as individuals to find ease and joy.

All 3 calls will include Q&A and will be held at noon Pacific time. If you can’t make the live calls, you can download them later and listen anytime you’d like.

Access to this Teleseries is Simple

.

This teleseries is a preview of my new book, THE SWEET SPOT: How to Find Your Groove at Home and WorkI’m excited to start sharing this book with you now – even though it won’t be in stores until January. To access the teleseries,  pre-order The Sweet Spot and send a copy of your receipt to thesweetspot@christinecarter.com. We’ll give you immediate access to the teleseries!

I hope you’ll join us on these exciting calls!

Christine_signature

 





Happiness Tip: Find Something to Love About the Moment You Are In Right Now



4781974157_cd42130fff_z

When I drop my kids off at school in the morning, I ask them one question: “What are you going to do today?” They always answer, usually without rolling their eyes and sometimes with actual enthusiasm: “HAVE FUN!!”

Having fun, to me, is the most important thing. Yes, I want them to learn and be respectful and kind and everything else, and no, I don’t want them to have fun at the expense of other people or by breaking school rules — obviously. But when it comes down to it, I know that if they are having fun, they will learn better, and make better friends, and in general, be a delight to their teachers.

And there is always fun to be had, even in the more boring or trying aspects of school, or, as the case may be, work. Or life. Finding something to love in every situation isn’t about complacency, it’s about accepting the full truth of the present moment. It’s about focusing our minds on the positive aspects of a situation, and then reaping the benefits of doing so.

A friend recently faced a nerve-wracking medical procedure for a serious illness. She was terrified, and having a hard time finding something to love about the situation, which included the possibility that she might not recover. But here are some things we came up with:

  • She felt love and gratitude for the people supporting her — her doctors and nurses, her husband, her friends.
  • She felt hope and gratitude because there are treatments for her illness (and super thankful she has health insurance).
  • She felt deep gratitude (again) just to be alive. She came to see her fear as a part of her profound will to live.

Finding something to love even in very difficult situations involves acceptance of (and even surrender to) things that we didn’t choose and perhaps didn’t want. But instead of just pointing to the ways that a situation is hard or wrong or bad, or focusing on the things that we’d like to change, we can transform a situation by also acknowledging the positive aspects of a situation. The key: seeing that we would not get to experience these positive aspects, at least in the same way, without the difficult bits.

Seeing this fuller picture–accepting both the good and the bad in a situation–is a solid tactic for feeling happier and more more fulfilled. The positive emotions that arise when we identify what we love are tremendously functional. Gratitude, love, hope, optimism, compassion, awe — these emotions all make us healthier, happier, and more satisfied with our lives.

Take action: Have fun today. If not that, find something to love about the situation you are in.

Join the discussion: Tell us about something you love about today. Share in the comments or discuss on Facebook here.

Photo by keiichi





Ashes and Snow



Ashes and Snow by Gregory Colbert from Gregory Colbert on Vimeo.

Need help cultivating wordlessness? This incredible film is a meditation of sorts, and it certainly leaves me speechless.