“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!” Henry David Thoreau penned in his journal. “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” Thoreau was onto something when it comes to building your strengths of creativity. I always wondered why Gallup never included creativity as one of their Talents in the Strengthsfinder assessment.
Apparently it is as simple as walking according to a Stanford study highlighted in a story featuring Steve Job’s famous practice of taking people for walking. Where you walked did not matter: “The act of walking itself, and not the environment, was the main factor,” according to the study. This study follows on an excellent article in the New Yorker on how Walking Makes You Think. Walking has many other benefits as outlined by the arthritis foundation:
There is a short, but excellent article summarizing Tom Corley’s research he published in his best-selling book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life,” on what financially successful people do in comparison to lower earning individuals. I have added my own commentary to several, but do read his article.
They get up early
Well begun, half done, so goes the saying. It is not getting up early that matters as much as what you do when you are up. Getting up early allows for several other habits take hold–exercise, reading, quiet contemplation. One excellent practice is known as morning pages whereby you aim to write 750 words fist thing.
They read, a lot
Feed your wisdom/knowledge and Strategic Thinking. His research suggests that you are better focusing on non-fiction such as biographies. What should you read? Here are a few lists to get you started:
They spend 15 to 30 minutes each day on focused thinking
Perhaps this can be split into two parts: Focused thing vis-a-vis your goals and tasks at hand, and focused attending to yourself such as a mindful practice. Tim Ferris figures 85% of his guests on his excellent podcast have some sort of contemplative practice.
They make exercise a priority
Research shows Cardio exercise is not just good for the heart and waist, but your brain as well from stress and anxiety to depression and many others. Watch John Ratey explain
They spend time with people who inspire them
Role models and mentors are powerful inspiration. Chris Peterson famously summed a life worth living as “Other People Matter:
The Greater Good Society reports that “Results from somestudies—as well as end-of-life conversations—indicate that many people count their relationships as the most meaningful part of their lives, even when those relationships are difficult or strained.” There is one special relationship that matters: Mentors:
They pursue their own goals The Ritz Carelton has curated seven great TED Talks on goal-setting and how to follow through on your dreams.
In this three-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares psychological evidence about the importance of keeping your goals quiet. You’ll have a better chance of following through on your plans if you don’t share them with others.
In this 11-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how adopting a growth mindset can open you up to greater success. She encourages the audience to see a challenge as a “yet” opportunity.
They get enough sleep
You need sleep to draw on vitality. Tom Rath explains getting Fully Charged:
They have multiple incomes
Obviously financial wealth requires income. Multiple incomes take precedence especially if they are self-sustaining. Tim Ferris explains in his book the Four Hour Work Week.
They avoid times wasters
Hopefully you do not see this blog as a time waster. Even the pope has spoken out against Digital Media filters: “When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously,” he wrote in the letter.
I was just listening to Scott Barry Kaufmann’s excellent podcast, when I stumbled on his interview with EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH. Meaning comes from four pillars: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence. I found the notion on story telling quite intriguing. “People who believe their lives are meaningful tend to tell stories defined by growth, communion and agency.”
Here is a little preview from a PBS special:
How can you find which pillar of meaning you are living? Try Emily’s quiz:
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good! Read more…
Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness. Read more…
Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep! Read more…
Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day. Read more…
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more. Read more…
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more…
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more…
Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more…
No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more…
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more…
People strong in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.
Needs on a team:To organize
As a Leader: Create order
In Conflict:Add structure
Partner with: someone with strong Ideation–this will stretch your thinking. Adaptability–They will help you manage with flexibility especially in times of change. Self-assurance–will give you confidence especially trying new things.
In academics:– loves organization – this student will also be well-prepared for the advising session and usually knows what they want – enjoys structured courses, well- organized profs with clear expectations, grading rubrics – will probably want to take all the required courses first to “get them out of the way” – will want to carefully plan their course schedule and will care about the times classes are taught and how they will get their assignments done – will want study time in between classes, so won’t want to schedule any back-to-back classes – will enjoy seeing the syllabus in advance of choosing the class
People strong in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.
Needs on a team:To think things through
As a Leader: Anticipate obstacles
In Conflict:Help make decisions
Partner with: someone with strong Command, Self-Assurance, or Activator talents. Together you will make many decisions, and these decisions will be sound.
In academics:– loves to think it through – this student wants to know all the options and have all the information in hand before making a decision – will probably be well- prepared for the advising session and will appreciate an advisor who is well- informed and fairly directive – likes to know that the advisor can be trusted – will want to double check everything and will be concerned about meeting requirements – prefers courses where the expectations are clear, where class time is used well, and where students take the course seriously – encourage them to get copies of syllabi before choosing their courses, so there will be no surprises
People strong in the Consistency theme (also called Fairness in the first StrengthsFinder assessment) are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world fairly by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.
Needs on a team:To have things be fair
As a Leader: Treat people the same
In Conflict: Set up clear rules
Partner with: Maximizer or Individualization theme
In academics: – loves fairness – prefers courses where expectations are clear and spelled out in advance – loves grading rubrics – dislikes being in courses where the prof plays favorites or where expectations change during the term – surprises are no fun to these students, so they will want to map out their educational plan well in advance and then stick to it – enjoys routines, processes, and other sequential procedures, so may enjoy the sciences, statistics, accounting, music, engineering or law
People strong in the Self-assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.
Needs on a team: To be right
As a Leader: Provide confidence
In Conflict:Influence outcome
Partner with: a strong Strategic, Deliberative, or Futuristic theme. This person can help you assess the goals to which you commit. You need this help because once you set your sights on a goal you are very likely to stay with it until it is achieved.
In academics: – loves to make a difference – enjoys class participation – enjoys classes where they can be successful – prefers classes that are relevant to their goalsand desires – enjoys independent study or creating their own assignments –appreciates feedback from profs