Do You Want to Grow? Look to Your Work Relationships

People at Work

All the hours we spend around people at our workplaces don’t just bring us our income. These hours also provide the opportunity to develop more maturity, kindness, life skills and self-esteem.

How? Our workplace relationships.

You may love your co-workers, clients and customers, supervisors, the children you teach. Or perhaps you wish they’d just go away. Either way, your interactions with these people can help you become more of the person you want to be.

Create More Fun and Enjoyment for Everybody

Doing small acts of kindness make you feel good. They brighten the day for the people around you. Raising others’ self-esteem through positive words and thoughtful acts makes for a happier work environment for everyone.

When I worked at a community mental health center, one of the nurses went on a trip to Australia. She brought home a little stuffed koala bear for each staff member — around 40 people.

I wouldn’t have expected her to haul home all these little bears. But she no doubt got a kick out of doing it.

We hadn’t really known each other before her trip, but I felt closer to her after her generous act.

What are some kindnesses we can share at work?

  • Organize potlucks
  • Bring cupcakes on our birthdays, just like we used to do in school
  • Pay sincere compliments on a regular basis
  • Offer rides to people who are getting their cars repaired
  • Give holiday cards and birthday cards

What If Your Co-workers Aren’t So Nice?

Wouldn’t it be great if all the people we interacted with at work were friendly, easy-going, responsible? No crazies?

The good news is that being around the most difficult people gives us the greatest opportunities for growth.

Let’s look at some general things we can do in our relationships with these folks.

The Loving-Kindness Meditation

In a previous post we talked about a meditation that can help us build a sense of love and kindness towards ourselves and others. When we’re dealing with difficult people, working with this meditation helps us change our thinking and see this person with compassionate eyes.

Here’s the Loving-Kindness Meditation

May (the person’s name) be filled with loving-kindness

May (he/she) be well in body and mind

May (he/she) be free from anger and anxiety

May (he/she) be peaceful and at ease

Happy people don’t create problems for others. It’s a safe bet that this trying person struggles with sadness, low self-confidence, anxiety, shame or other negative feelings. They probably experience little good will from others.

What might happen if you started to see this person as unhappy instead of as a jerk? How might your relationship change once they began to feel your empathy?

Working With an Aggressive Co-worker or Client

With this sort of person, you might first try finding out what’s upsetting them, validating their feelings, and offering to help them find solutions.

You may be thinking, “Why is it my job to make this person happy? Their anger is their own problem. Why should I have to take their abuse?”

Think of it this way: you are suffering because of their behavior. You want to reduce your unhappiness when you’re around them. It’s a question of doing what works.

When you show understanding to a hostile person, it may well soften them up a bit. You might start to see the vulnerable side of them. You’ll understand how they are trying to protect themselves from the rejection and and blame they expect to receive.

Dealing With an Abusive Supervisor

With a supervisor with anger problems, you may have to set firm boundaries. If you hate conflict or feel that you need to hold onto your job at any cost, what are your options?

Find within yourself the self-respect that says you’ll no longer tolerate this.

Once you make this decision, you’ll change your own behavior. You’ll send out non-verbal signals that people need to show you respect.

Often, your supervisor will begin treating you differently in return. They pick up on your new attitude and just back off.

However, you may practice kindness towards them or act more assertively with them and see no softening on their part.

The next step may be to tell your supervisor you’ll no longer accept their behavior.

This is a hard one.

Write down what you want and need to say to them. Find your own words to tell them they can’t treat you this way. Practice the conversation with a friend or relative, saying your words firmly, confidently, and calmly.

If nothing changes or things get worse, it’s now time to begin looking for another job.

When someone has authority over you and doesn’t modify abusive behavior, you can’t continue putting up with it. For your emotional and physical health, you must not stay in this environment.

Even if it’s going to be very difficult to find another job, even if you have to take a job that pays less, you can’t afford someone’s cruelty. You will find another job. Don’t let your self-esteem crumble to bits.

Summing It All Up

How do you need to grow? Do you want to develop greater kindness and compassion towards others? Do you want to see that you can effectively make your workplace more fun? Perhaps you need to overcome your fear of standing up to people.

Our workplaces are ideal for growing ourselves. Use your power to build up your people skills. You’ll feel good showing yourself how effective you are.

Readers: What have you learned about growing through your work relationships? Please share your wisdom with us!

 

4 Powerful Ways to Free Yourself From Procrastination

Procrastination workshops postponed

All the hours I’ve ever spent procrastinating would probably add up to a year!

Are you nodding your head in agreement?

You may have read any number of useful articles on beating procrastination. Still, you find yourself putting things off. But you may be able to solve this problem by looking at a deeper level.

We often procrastinate because of anger, sadness or fear. If that’s the case, efforts to change won’t work until we listen to our feelings. So let’s look at some strategies for getting back on track that take emotions into account.

1. Get your angry feelings out in a letter.

Joe is (supposedly) looking for a new job. He sets aside a couple hours to spruce up his LinkedIn profile. But instead he plays around on Facebook.

His parents, it turns out, have been bugging him to get “a real job.” He resents how they’re pressuring him. On some level he’s fighting them by not doing what they want him to.

Joe can write his parents a letter. It doesn’t matter if he gives it to them or not. The point is for him to get his feelings out on paper.

Now he can decide if he really wants to take on a job search. If so, his motivation will come from within.

2. Create a ritual to help with sadness.

Kelly keeps meaning to go through her stuff in the basement and donate most of it. It never happens.

What she isn’t really aware of is how sad she feels about this task. Her mother died a year ago, and Kelly stored some of her things downstairs.

She’s half forgotten they’re down there. When the thought of them starts coming up, she stuffs it down without realizing it.

One day, though, all this dawns on her. So she thinks about what she can do to make it a little easier.

She then lights a candle in honor of her mother while she works in the basement. Something this simple can make a difference and enable her to stop putting it off.

There are all kinds of rituals you can use. Sing meaningful songs. Plant something beautiful in a special place. Write a short essay or poem about the person or event you feel sad about.

Let your creative heart guide you.

3. Tackle feelings of entitlement by creating consequences.

Nina generally avoids things she doesn’t want to deal with. The youngest kid in the family, she always charmed her way out of chores.

Now she always feels a bit put upon when faced with an unpleasant responsibility.

But she comes to the point where she’s ready to change. She decides to write a check to a charity she dislikes and puts it in a sealed envelope. She gives it to a friend who will mail it if Nina puts something important off.

Nina is now highly motivated to avoid procrastination!

4. Go inside your body to sort out confusing feelings

Kyle can tell something is bugging him, but he doesn’t know what. It’s not like him to kill time when he’s supposed to be writing a report for work.

So he closes his eyes and scans his body for tension. He notices that his stomach is tight. He asks himself what it’s trying to tell him

Kyle realizes he’s nervous about presenting the report later in the week. He doesn’t really understand the material. Now it occurs to him to do some research.

His energy returns and he works on the report all afternoon.

To Sum It All Up

Procrastination can become a signal to you that something’s wrong, that something needs your attention.

It won’t do you any good to get down on yourself for avoiding things. That’s missing the point when anger, sadness, anxiety or other feelings are underneath the surface.

When you find yourself putting things off, think about how your emotions might be involved. You’ll be able to take care of what’s bothering you. You’ll also start accomplishing things again.

When you get to the bottom of why you procrastinate, you’ll find freedom.

Meeting Anger With Mindfulness

Drawing about anger

Your friend stood you up for lunch today. Again.

You’re hurt. Annoyed. A touch of resentment takes hold and pretty soon you have a whole mental list of things you don’t like about her.

She’s a dear friend, so you know you aren’t going to fire her. The two of you will need to talk. Unless, of course, you swallow your irritation and say “oh, that’s ok” (but continue to simmer). Or perhaps say some things you later wish you could take back.

Most of us don’t quite know what to do with anger. It’s unpleasant. We may never have seen people handle it well and don’t see a lot of good that comes from it.

Maybe you’re afraid of anger. When you were young, people around you may have lost control of it, exposing you to constant criticism, yelling, or even physical violence.

Equally damaging can be an environment where anger is seen as so threatening that no one is allowed to express it. It’s not nice to get angry, and we must always be nice, no matter what.

But anger is a part of living, and like it or not, it isn’t going away.

We might as well learn to deal with it.

When we know how to work with it, anger can even be valuable. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just information telling us that something is wrong, that something needs to change.

Meeting anger with mindfulness helps us develop insight. Let’s talk for a moment about how to go about this.

Some ideas for mindfully working with anger

So how do you get yourself in a mindful place when you’re mad?

The first thing to do, of course, is breathe. Take three minutes and focus on your breath as it enters and leaves your body.

You’re probably feeling an urge to think and think about what’s happened. Instead, interrupt that process by focusing on your breathing. Don’t try to stop being angry. Just acknowledge your feelings and shift your awareness to the breath.

You’ll keep feeling angry for a few minutes — you might feel hot, your heart might be racing. That’s not a problem. Just keep returning to the breath. Label what’s going on: “Thinking. Feeling. Angry thoughts. Hot face.”

After a few minutes you may start to feel some sadness. Just label it: “Sadness. Heavy chest. Tears.”

At this point, let it go for now. I’m not asking you to bury your feelings, though. You’re just putting them aside for a bit, planning to come back to them with a clear mind.

So what now? Mindfully engage in some other activity. When angry thoughts and feelings keep coming back, which they will, acknowledge them: “Thinking. Feeling. Anger. Hurt.” Then get back to what you were doing.

Results of working mindfully with anger

This mindful approach frees your unconscious mind to work with your feelings. Later you may find that an intuition about the situation pops into your mind.

You might realize, for example, that you’re more hurt than angry. This intuition can come to the surface because you’ve done your mindfulness work. You didn’t obsess over the situation, so your mind was free to bring out this insight.

Now you can decide what to do. Now you’re ready to do some thinking about the situation, about how to handle it.

You might decide to talk to the person you got upset with. This could be a huge step for you if you usually puts a lid on feelings. If you’re someone who tends to get snippy, you can prepare yourself to speak assertively instead.

Or you may decide to let it go, that you’ve already resolved your feelings as much as you need to.

In closing:

Handling strong feelings like anger can be tricky.

There’s nothing to be gained by either stuffing anger or getting hostile. But a non-judgmental acceptance of anger allows us to use it on behalf of ourselves and of our relationships.

Even if we fear anger or have misused it in the past, we can make peace with it. We can allow it to just be a part of our lives. We can even let it help us.

Try these simple steps for working with anger the next time the need arises.

And please share in the comments about how you deal with anger.

Three Steps to a More Joyful Life

Happy man

1. Ask: Am I Sure This Is Really True?

One day I was rubbing my cat’s belly when I found a lump.

I knew it had to be cancer. I knew he would die soon.

Should I even have surgery for him, since he’s an older cat? Do cats get chemo? Would all his hair fall out? If I didn’t get another cat after I lost him, would his brother be lonely? But if I did, would they fight?

When I took him to the vet, she felt around the around the area and said, “Umm…it’s his nipple.”

We are constantly creating stories. We can’t help it. Stories about ourselves, other people, things that happen to us, how our lives should be.

I’m working on seeing it when I’m caught up in a story. It’s slow going. But the more I remember to practice mindfulness in my daily life, the sooner I realize what I’m doing.

2. Focus: Dwell On Positives

I used to work in an inner city social services agency. It could have been a burn-out job. It wasn’t, though, because most of us wanted to be there. We laughed a lot.

Our clients were poor and mentally ill, an especially bad combination. It could be unpleasant working with such troubled people, like the time when a woman spit in my face.

In agencies like ours, the staff unfortunately often talk down to the people who come for services and complain about them. But our clinic’s culture of speaking respectfully to and about the clients no doubt kept our morale up.

But our employee union, on the other hand…. As a good left-leaning social worker, I started out being very enthusiastic about it. But we spent the meetings running down the administration, dedicated people that most of us actually liked.

The union meetings were boring and we never accomplished anything. I quit going.

3. Notice: Our Teachers Are Everywhere

When I worked at the agency, I had this one client who drove me crazy.

Every week when we met, she talked a mile a minute the whole time. I couldn’t get a word in to share my wisdom with her. If I tried, she’d interrupt or talk over me.

She spoke in detail about what she did all day. Believe me, she didn’t do interesting things.

It was hard to follow what she was saying because of all those words.

When she talked about how much she looked forward to our meetings, I felt guilty because I dreaded them.

I felt guilty because I disliked her so much.

I would plot about ways to get rid of her. Could I transfer her case to someone else? No. Could I just stop seeing her? No. Could I duct tape her mouth shut? Unfortunately not.

One day it occurred to me that maybe I would start to view her as my teacher. Since I felt such an extreme reaction to her, I could tell that she must be touching on some issues of mine that I wasn’t aware of.

Issues that I apparently needed her help to resolve.

So when we would meet I would sit there telling myself, “She is my teacher. She is my teacher.”

Not immediately, but before too long I started getting a kick out of her.

Since I was now paying more attention to what she was saying, I began to respect how generous she was. She adopted stray cats. She cooked for her neighbors.

She was very knowledgeable about her mental illness. I learned far more about it from her than I did at school.

After a while she moved on when she no longer needed our visits.

I’d like to say that I was sorry to see her go, but I was mostly just relieved. But I learned a lot from her. I learned that I could write people off without realizing it. That I wasn’t as compassionate as I liked to think.

But also that I have the ability to change.

Readers: What are some of the positives in your life you’d like to focus on? Who or what are some of your teachers?

 

 

“I Don’t Know What Kind of a Job I Want!”

Sunflower

The ideas in this article can speak to anyone with a dream. Please read it even if you’re happy in your work.

“I have got to do something else!” Adrienne told me. “I can’t stand my job. And it’s never going anywhere.

“But I have no idea what I’d like to do!”

Is that really true?

Adrienne makes paper and is very good at it. I wasn’t the least bit surprised that she could describe in detail the fine paper store she wanted to open.

She already had a name for it. There was probably a market in her community for something like this.

A store in Chicago inspired her. Talking about their papers and cards and accessories made her come alive.

“The store in Chicago teaches a lot of classes,” she said. “They sound fascinating. Book-binding, making cards, making journals, things like that. Making different kinds of paper.

“But I could never do that!!”

When I asked her why not, she told me:

“I couldn’t run a store.”

“I couldn’t make any money at it.”

“My family would think I’m crazy.”

And then finally:

“Nobody ever told me that I can do what I want.”

Bingo.

Do you want to get into a different field, or get a new job, but aren’t sure what it would be? Chances are that on some level you have a pretty good idea.

You absolutely get to do what you want in life. Your desires are reliable guides.

Let’s look at why Adrienne felt she couldn’t do what she wanted. You and she probably share some common fears. Let’s see if her self-doubts are true.

“I couldn’t run a store.”

It’s true that at this point Adrienne doesn’t have experience running a store. But she’s a smart woman. She could find the information and mentoring she needs at her local community college and business networking groups.

Is she really asking if she wants to invest the time and energy needed to bring this idea into being?

If she takes on this project, Adrienne will have to work very hard. She’ll have to learn new skills.

But her dream may be so worth it to her that she doesn’t mind the long hours and the challenges ahead.

She doesn’t have to tell herself “I can’t do this.” What she really needs is to take herself seriously. That’s the only way she’ll be able to ask herself if she wants this.

If she does, she can open this store.

“I couldn’t make any money at it.”

Money would probably be tight for a while.

And, when we’re doing something we love, we often  find we can be happy on a smaller income.

There are so many things we have that we don’t really need. If my work is nourishing me, will I miss cable? Can I eat out less?

If I were happier in my work, would I shop less?

Do my kids need all the stuff I buy them? Would they be richer with a parent who’s less drained by the job?

Adrienne could decide to remove the excess from her life to follow her work dreams. This might make the difference between opening her store and staying with a job she hates.

“My family would think I’m crazy.”

So what?

Is Adrienne really asking if she has good judgment? If she’s smart enough to make her new path work?

Do you wonder these things about yourself?

I can tell you right now: you have more on the ball than you think you do.

Most people underestimate themselves.

Good judgement involves finding the people that support you. Ask them what they think.

Definitely find people doing the kind of work you’re interested in doing. Ask them how they got into it. Get their perspectives on what it takes to succeed. Find out if there are jobs in this field.

I don’t think you’d be considering this work if you really didn’t have what it takes.

To sum up —

I think you should seriously look into the work you’d like to do.

Write down why you think you can’t go for it. Then read between the lines to find out what your real fears are.

Talk to people who support your strengths and will give you thoughtful feedback. Don’t talk to people who tear down your dreams.

Take the risk.

And remember that you have permission to do this.

 

 

How To Turn Discouragement Into Hope

Photograph suggesting hope by pol sifter
hope, a photo by pol sifter on Flickr.

Imagine that you’re sitting at your desk at work. Sighing.

You’re bored. Stressed.

There’s already too much work for an eight (or nine)-hour day, and your boss just gave you something else.

You’d love a different job. But you don’t see how to get there.

Or maybe you can’t figure out how to stop all the tension with someone very important to you.

Perhaps it’s been forever since you were in a romantic relationship. You have no idea how to meet someone.

Or you may be trying without success to lose weight or quit buying so much stuff.

Chances are your biggest problem, though, is that you don’t know how to regain hope when you’re discouraged.

It’s hard to feel optimistic when you’re trying hard to change something and nothing seems to work.

But it’s very possible to build up your confidence that things can be different. You just need to learn some strategies. Here are two things that can help:

–Write About What You’ve Accomplished

It may not feel like it, but many times in your life you’ve figured out how to solve problems that seemed impossible to overcome.

Maybe you quit smoking after trying and failing over and over. Maybe you reached out to someone despite being shy.

Perhaps you worked hard in a difficult subject in school and learned some valuable things. You may have fixed something in your home that bewildered you at first.

Write about these things. Take a good amount of time, at least 15 minutes, longer if possible.

Write about times when you’ve stayed with something difficult. Times when you didn’t stop trying even though you felt almost hopeless. Times when you were clear that giving up was just not an option.

You may take these accomplishments for granted at this point in your life, forgetting how frustrated you were at the time.

Try to remember now how hard it was. Remember how you would get discouraged but then just get back up again.

And go into detail. Think about the footwork you went through. The new habits you had to nourish. The people who believed in you.

There’s something about putting things down on paper that makes them more real. I don’t know why it works, but it does.

See if you don’t start feeling strong and empowered as you reflect on your achievements.

–Get Your Support Team In Place

We’re social creatures. We’re not wired for solving our problems all by ourselves.

When we’re stuck we need creative insights. Such ideas flourish when more than one person works on a project.

For the past five years I’ve been meeting monthly with three friends to discuss our goals. This group has helped me many, many times when I’ve struggled with discouragement.

We meet for an hour and a half and divide up the time between ourselves. Our main focus in this particular group is building up our careers. We also talk sometimes about more personal concerns that we need feedback on.

Your group can choose to focus on whatever you decide. Personal goals. Creating new habits. Improving relationships. Moving into a new career. You name it.

My support team gives me a place to put my goals into words. When I get bogged down, my friends give me perspectives that I can’t see by myself.

When it’s my turn, we talk about possible solutions for the things that challenge me. I make a plan to try our ideas out. And when we meet the following month, I’m able to tell them about how it’s going.

I’ve learned now that I’ll see new solutions after talking with them.

And when I achieve something, I can share it with people who’ve helped me bring it about.

This kind of group only works if you can trust the people involved. We’ve been thoughtful about who we’ve invited into the group. That way we’ve prevented problems with someone taking too much time or getting sidetracked with a negative focus.

I also get the wonderful benefit of being able give others a hand. It empowers me to see that my contributions are useful. How can I be hopeless when I’m smart enough to help another person solve their problem?

–To Wrap Up

Getting stuck and discouraged is a normal part of life. The good news is that your fears aren’t a reality.

Even when it feels like you’re out of things to try, there are ways to solve your problems.

From the time you learned to walk and talk you’ve been overcoming challenges.

Your mind is incredible. You are incredible.

Remember that any time things look dark, your pen and paper are there to help. Think and write about all the times you’ve had no idea what to do but then solved your problem.

You did it before. You will do it again.

And also remember that you aren’t alone. You don’t have to try to do it all yourself.

Find people to work with. Get into a goal-setting, discouragement-busting group. Talk to a friend. Find a mentor.

You’ll see that answers exist that you never could have thought of alone.

And please comment: how do you deal with frustration? Share your wisdom and experience with the group of people who’ve read this article.

My Thanks to Readers of Tiny Buddhist

Gratitude Card Set 5 by Fern R
Gratitude Card Set 5, a photo by Fern R on Flickr.

I am honored that a number of new readers have started following my blog after my recent post in Tiny Buddhist. What a great compliment!

I have one request of you: please comment on what you read here. I really look forward to hearing your thoughts and learning from you.

Talk with the other people who comment, too. We can have some great conversations when we draw on the wisdom, experience and smarts of a group of people.

Maybe some of you are like me — I always feel a little awkward when I post comments. If this is true for you, too, then I especially encourage you to talk. You’d be surprised how much you can help someone with your insights.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a longer post. Cheers til then.

Learn to Meditate

Meditation by Nina Stawski
Meditation, a photo by Nina Stawski on Flickr.

Why meditate?

It’s very good for your mind and body. It lowers your blood pressure and increases a sense of well-being.

Studies show that it actually changes the brain. The part of your brain where good feelings happen grows larger through meditation. The part that produces anxiety gets smaller.

How can you learn to meditate?

There’s nothing exotic about it. It’s a natural activity that you already do without realizing it.

It’s nothing more than paying close attention to something.

A simple yet powerful form of meditation is to just feel the air moving in and out of your body. As you breathe, notice it in your chest or diaphragm area.

You’ll feel your stomach or chest moving up and down.

That’s it.

You don’t try to breathe deeply or empty your mind of thoughts. Some of your breaths will naturally be very light and others will be deeper. Just let it happen.

You can be guaranteed that your thoughts will wander away from your breath. That’s normal. That’s how our brains operate.

When it happens, simply notice it and gently return your attention to your breath.

Counting your breaths can help you stay focused. On the first in-breath, silently say “one.” As you breath out, think “two.” Count in this way up to ten, then count back down to “one” again.

People usually feel that they must be doing it wrong when they begin meditating. Try to let go of your judgments. You’re doing it just fine.

To get the most benefit, how long will you want to meditate? How often?

You can start out with 5 minutes a day for a few days a week. Try to work up to 20 minutes or more on most days, but don’t push it. There are no meditation police.

The point is to be consistent. Even a little mindfulness goes a long way.

This practice even bolsters your immune system. When you’re under too much stress you’re at greater risk of getting sick. Meditation lowers the stress hormone cortisol.

Meditation also helps you manage the kind of obsessive thinking that is so easy to fall into when you’re facing difficulties.

When you pay close attention to your breath, you learn to focus on one thing at a time. You’ll find that your worries quiet down because you can’t both follow your breath and think-think-think in the same moment.

This practice protects you, then, from getting caught up in a past that no longer exists. You won’t have to worry about things that haven’t happened yet, and probably never will.

Meditating with the support of others helps you stick with it. See if there’s a practice group in your community. If not, you can find an online group of like-minded people.

Try this out and see what you think.

And please – share your experiences in the comments.

Savoring Our Food

“Wolf…Wolf……..Wolf!” Can you hear that sound at workplaces all over the United States? It’s the Exotic Spice Mixsound of us wolfing down our lunches at our desks, trying to work and eat at the same time.

The pressure to produce more and more in order to keep our jobs can be tremendous for some of us. Almost all of us are over-scheduled to the point where we eat in our cars, eat standing up.

We rush through meals without tasting our food. Personal needs like nourishing our bodies fall off our priority lists.

We deserve better.

Savoring our food is a radical act in this country. There isn’t much cultural support for eating slowly enough to thoroughly enjoy our food or even to be aware of what we’re eating.

You may feel that it’s unrealistic or even weird to close your eyes during a meal to notice sweet, bland, and sour flavors. However, doing this actually changes us.

If we start chewing slowly enough to taste our meals and snacks, we begin to carry mindfulness into the rest of our day. It gets to where we don’t even need to think about it.

I love grapes and had some for breakfast this morning. They’re a very sweet variety and are especially delicious. If there’s any food that is worth eating mindfully, it’s these grapes.

I put one in my mouth and closed my eyes. I wanted to eat them quickly because they’re so good. But accepting my desire to rush, I chewed them slowly.

After a bit, the delightful sweetness faded, and I noticed how much I disliked that. The textures held my interest: very juicy, a tough skin, slippery beneath the skin. Who knew?

Try this exercise and see what happens:

Take a small piece of food and place it in your hand. Imagine you’re from another planet, and have never seen this item before.

Notice the different colors and tones as the light falls on it. Put it up to your nose and smell it.

Now carefully place it in your mouth. Don’t start chewing yet. Instead, take a moment to let it sit there. Notice your saliva starting up. Feel the weight of it on your tongue.

Very slowly begin to chew. Notice the flavors and how they change as you chew. Notice the textures and how they transform.

Notice the desire to swallow, but don’t do it just yet.

Now, swallow.

What happened for you as you did this exercise? What did you notice? Were you surprised by anything?

When you’re at work tomorrow or doing things at home, take just a moment to savor a bit of food.

Think about all the people who worked to bring it to you: the farmer. The harvester. The people in the factory who cooked it. The truck driver who brought it to your store. The clerk at the cash register.

Send them a silent thought of gratitude. And enjoy yourself.

5 Guaranteed Ways To Boost Self Confidence

Imagine sitting in a job interview with a hiring manager staring at you. She’s just asked you a difficult question. Feeling confident?

Some people are self-assured by nature. The rest of us have to work at it. Fortunately, confidence is something we can build.

Here are some suggestions for ways to do just that.

1. Visualize success

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. In your mind’s eye, see yourself, the hiring manager, and her office in detail. What are you wearing? What’s on her desk?

Now imagine that you’re completely prepared for that difficult question she just asked.

Picture yourself sitting up straight and feeling relaxed. You have a slight smile. You know this topic well and enjoy talking about it.

You’re speaking with assurance and enthusiasm.

And you see her looking impressed.

2. Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep

We all know we’re supposed to exercise, right? But why is it especially helpful for building self-confidence?

One, it lowers stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. It also makes endorphins that naturally create an upbeat mood.

Two, keeping up an exercise program is hard for most people. When we do so, it makes us feel proud.

And three, we usually look better when we exercise.

3. Give attention to your appearance

Just as your environment reflects your sense of calm or chaos, how you present your appearance reflects your self-esteem.

People treat you differently when you look put-together. Even more important, you can change how you view yourself when you spruce up a little.

Something as simple as ironing your shirt or getting a good haircut boosts confidence.

The clothes we put on can have a big impact on how self-assured we feel. Dress the part of someone who takes themselves seriously and is attentive to details.

It may well make you more aware of all that you have to offer.

4. Pay attention to other people

Low self-confidence mushrooms when we’re focused on our selves and our worries. But helping other people and thinking about their happiness makes us feel better.

Something as little as paying someone a compliment will lift your spirits as well as theirs.

Learn some jokes to tell. This will get you smiling more without plastering an artificial grin on your face. Humor helps us relax and creates a good feeling between people.

This is also a good time to think about volunteering. It makes you feel good and gets you around friendly people. You’ll get the chance to use your abilities to make someone else’s day better.

5. De-clutter your home or office

Your environment can say a lot about what’s going on inside you. What does your desk, dresser or bathroom counter top show about how settled you feel?

You can impact your mood and sense of control by bringing order to your surroundings. Take even 15 minutes to straighten your work or living space.

When you finish, enjoy this newly organized area for a little while. You’ll feel a sense of greater ease and accomplishment.

Finally….

There is so much in life that we cannot control: the economy, what others do, world events. But you always have control over your level of self-confidence.

Try out these ideas and watch your optimism grow. You’ll be happy to see how much your choices can change your life.