Happiness and Authenticity

by Helen Williams

Did you know that happiness and authenticity join hands in our lives? Happiness is a by-product of the other ingredients that are necessary to feel at ease with ourselves, our choices and our daily lives. Authenticity is one of the most important!

It’s hard to be truly authentic because fear often prevents this. We grow up needing approval, validation and comfort in order to feel secure and loved and so the fear of not receiving approval can mean we create an inauthentic self as a way of protecting ourselves. Learning to be true, real and vulnerable takes courage, practice and support from those around us. Especially the notion that we must be who we’re not in order to be loved. This is the most open secret shared by everyone – that we do not and cannot honour our true selves for fear of rejection.

Vulnerability means taking a risk to really put ourselves out there – to embrace ourselves as we are and risk being uncomfortable, seen, experienced and still stay open to ourselves and to others.

Ask yourself some questions!
Who am I really? What am I afraid will happen if I show you who I really am? What does being authentic really mean and why do I struggle with who I am?

Everything is about love and approval – about being wanted, feeling special, being visible, and feeling safe in the context of a relationship.

Come and join our Authentic Living workshop for the month of February as we explore questions like these and while finding self-acceptance with a group of like-minded people.

Contact us to book

Authentic Living February_Social Media Art 1

You Need Only Water, Light and a New Pot

By Isabel Galiardo
I have a plant in the living room that I rescued from the garbage several years ago. It is giving flowers and full of life. It oozes beauty and joy. For me, it is a metaphor for what happens when we accept and take care of ourselves.
To throw the plant away because it has dead leaves and is growing crooked may seem the most logical thing to do. We think that if it is no longer useful, it is better to buy a new one.
We often do that with ourselves. We want to get rid of our faults and imperfections because they cause shame, pain and fear and make us “look bad”. But the difficulty and pain show us aspects of ourselves that need to be taken care of and accepted.
When you deny your fear, your anger, your shame or your guilt, you are mutilating yourself. It is not about wallowing in pain, nor about living as a victim of the past, but looking at it from a broader and more comprehensive, more compassionate and conscious perspective.
Do not try to get rid of the dry leaves or the parts that have grown uneven or deformed, on the contrary, welcome them and give them water and light (love and consciousness).
Bring light to the aspects that are in the shade. Orient yourself towards the light -remembering your true essence and elevating your vibratory frequency through spiritual practices will give you a greater awareness of yourself.
If you need a new pot, move to a larger space that allows you to continue growing and give flowers. Dare to consider life in broader and more expansive terms.
The most important task facing humanity is learning to love. Love starts with oneself and has nothing to do with a narcissistic or egocentric attitude, but with the ability to accept what I am at each moment without resistance or attachment. Letting life flow through me, letting LOVE speak through me.
Self-love and love for others are two sides of the same coin. What I do not tolerate of myself will be a source of conflict when I see it in the outside world. My own personal war immediately moves to a war with the world.
Let us make peace with what we are and we will begin to give flowers of hope, creativity, joy and unity.
“The goal of this work is not ‘get rid of your story’ but to have a more flexible relationship with it.”
– Matt Licata
Isabel

Fear or Intuition?

By Isabel Galiardo 
How can we distinguish between our inner voice, which we call intuition, from the voice of fear?
Fear helps us recognize and prevent dangers. It is there to protect us, without it we would behave recklessly and ignore our own limits. When it takes excessive prominence it makes us defensive, aggressive, isolates us and makes us perceive the world as hostile.
The voice of fear is linked to the past and is part of our conditioning. Our biographical experiences and those accumulated by our predecessors allow us to manage the world in a more predictable and safe way. But when our old childhood fears take hold of us we go back emotionally in time and perceive reality through the lens of our inner child, who feels helpless, terrified, incapable, … it measures our capacity based on past experiences, moments in which we had fewer resources.
Our inner voice is connected with the present and with the future, it guides us in the most appropriate direction for our growth and evolution. It shows us creative and original ways of being ourselves, freed from our conditioning and our old wounds, inviting us to express our potential and contribute to the totality of existence.
Our inner voice expresses our essence and is connected with our deepest truth, which is timeless and universal, but which is expressed in a unique and personal way in each one of us.
To listen to it, it is necessary to create a minimum of silence and quietness. This voice speaks subtly, almost in whispers, while fear is more reactive and speaks loudly.
Give yourself time to connect with yourself and to listen to yourself, to create a dialogue with this voice that speaks from certainty and knowledge, from a place of inner knowing. Then, take some time to assimilate the information and to understand it and finally, gather your courage and strength to put it into practice.
Our inner voice asks us for coherence and courage to reach our full potential and therefore challenges and mobilizes us to leave our comfort zone and explore new possibilities. This is not always easy but it is certainly immensely rewarding.

Why Workplace Mindfulness isn’t just about Being Happy

by Cindy Stocken

So is mindfulness at work really about always being happy and cheerful? Never complaining and forging forward without ever being tired, stressed, frustrated or generally jaded? Do HR departments run wellness sessions to create a better work/life balance or just create the appearance of effort while the pressure to compete demands more and more from us? Is it just another distraction from what really matters? What really matters anyway?

No wonder so many people view mindfulness at work with a cynical eye. Either they are being promised happiness or a “cure-all” for stress but then discover that it isn’t what mindfulness is about at all. The trite idea of happiness feels forced and inauthentic – and mindfulness as a word is being overused to the point that it feels like that team member who always uses the word “collaborate” but loves only the sound of their own voice. Too many trainings out there make people feel inadequate, negative or in need of fixing – and equate mindfulness with positive thinking. It’s not.

Mindfulness is not about being happy (although once you connect with true awareness you can find great joy in the full range of experiences – not just the pleasurable ones). Mindfulness is not about being positive and mindfulness is not about changing who you are. So what is it then and why are the benefits of it cited as invaluable by so many business leaders? How does it increase productivity by a reported 10 – 12%, decrease perceived stress in the workplace by 28% and make leaders feel 80% more effective? By understanding what mindfulness is we can dispel what it is not as well as identify some of the foundations underpinning its real benefits.

Awareness

Above all mindfulness is awareness. It is what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls being “awake”. If you have ever had those low vibe days at work where you feel like all you achieved was your physical body being in the appropriate chair in front of your computer but know that you made no real impact; you will know what disconnection is, what mindlessness feels like. If you have ever struck flow, when the channel of your skills, purpose and vision feels like a running river and you work with high energy, connecting with others and inspiring your team – you will know what it feels like to be awake.

Mindfulness is being awake, but it is also being aware of the present moment, on purpose. It is choosing to notice that you have drifted off in a day dream or into the rabbit hole of distraction (whether its procrastination or an overly snug comfort zone) and then choosing to come back to what is happening now.

Lastly it is witnessing and living in the present moment without judgement – as James Baraz says “without wishing it were different”. This is what opens us up beyond what we normally allow ourselves to experience, overcome anxiety and soften the feelings of pressure and stress. It doesn’t change our environment but brings our awareness to our experience of them – without trying to fight our response by judging it. It’s hearing that voice in your head and noticing it – rather than believing it. It is being awake as a conscious experience of being alive. This commitment to the present moment is what lengthens the space, as Viktor Frankl identifies, between stimulus and response. If we aren’t so busy being somewhere else we can use that bandwidth to be here instead and it gives us a lot of extra room to play with. So what happens in this space that we have now created?

Intuition

This awareness and presence and lack of attachment to a specific outcome opens up the next level of mindful work – which is an ability to hear your intuition and use it. This ability to tap into our flow, which so often before seemed mood or subject-dependant is actually a way of applying our wisdom to our purpose. It is the intuition that Malcolm Gladwell describes in Blink, the sense of leadership that Simon Sinek highlights as effective and authentic, and it is the intrinsic motivation that Dan Pink fires up in Drive. These make sense as we read them because we know them to be true – we have experienced flow before and know that our intuition is lit up when we do.

When we practice mindfulness and being consciously present in the moment we have a shortcut to this feeling. It isn’t fleeting anymore – it’s how we live. This is partly because mindfulness isn’t only about a formal meditation or practice away from our everyday routine – it is about being conscious in the daily action itself. It is why we speak about mindful living, not only mindful practice. When people report a 12% increase in focus, or a 17% improvement in work/life balance – it is because they are learning how to be present – not to be blown about in the wind of our thinking minds but be anchored in the now.

Understanding

With this awake awareness comes curiosity. In lieu of judgement we begin to wonder. Instead of handing out “positive” and “negative” labels we ask questions. This is the curiosity that sparks creativity and innovation. It’s the curiosity that enables leaders to coach rather than tell. It’s the curiosity that seeks to understand and then gives us the empathy and wisdom to be able to act as required. It’s the willingness and ability to learn and even apply what we now understand.

Grounding

So now we are here in the present moment, with full consciousness and the space for curiosity. Our senses and minds are fully open to a heightened awareness and because of this we can be more effective and resilient because we are able to consciously see/hear/understand what really IS happening around us – not what we wish was happening or wish wasn’t happening. This seems far from the ideal of perfect happiness because what might really be happening right now might not be good – but the readiness to accept it for what it is stops us from wasting energy and concern on the issue itself and gives us the focus to assess it, understand the root cause of it, make a decision about it, or creatively shift our actions as required.

You may have experienced working with leaders who have the clarity of mind to do this. They inspire us because they are accessible; we feel comfortable taking problems to them because we know that they aren’t going to get stuck on judging the problem but rather work with the reality as it is. They are honest and authentic as they work and are often the leaders who aren’t afraid to truly collaborate by making the meeting table a place to air what is actually going on and not just a ritualistic gathering of no purpose. Grounded, and dare I say mindful, leaders are exceptional in their ability to link their vision with a firmly rooted awareness of reality. They are able to tap into their intuition and connect with those around them by choosing to be completely present – meaning that they can listen, empathise and act in flow.

This is why mindfulness at work is about so much more than “happiness and positivity”. Wellbeing isn’t the exclusion of challenging experiences – it’s the compassionate attention of a deliberate way of living and leading.  This is what softens the anxiety and stress and gives us the space to be authentic instead.

 

For more on workplace mindfulness and the sessions that we run please email bindu@mindfulme.me or click here.