Archive for the ‘New Perspectives’ Category

It’s Thanksgiving week, so I suppose a post on gratitude is in order.  And A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day by John Tierney in today’s New York Times makes my job really easy.

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.

What’s not to like?!  The article looks at what gratitude is, suggests ways to integrate gratitude into your life, and presents some findings that show expressing gratitude will make you happier.

Without making a conscious decision to bring more gratitude in my life, I’ve noticed over the past years that I am a lot more grateful.  I think it may have started with death, maybe illness, maybe age.

And in order to keep it real, I’ve been playing a game with myself for a while that keeps me remembering to be grateful or consider a different perspective.  Every time (not really every time, but a lot) I have a complaint or think something negative, I make myself come up with a counter statement of gratitude.   Okay, an example.  If I’m feeling old and achy, I say I’m grateful that my body can still exercise regularly.  If the wrinkle between my brow is looking particularly deep, I express gratitude that I can still see the wrinkle!   If my child wants me to lie with him again at bed time, inevitably meaning I’ll fall asleep and not read my novel, I’m grateful that he still wants to lie with me.  And on and on.  I can still be annoyed with the aches and pains, the wrinkles and the lack of time for myself, but I can also keep them in perspective, and for whatever reason that keeps me feeling better.

Be grateful, be thankful and have a lovely Thanksgiving if you celebrate it!

I recently read a New Yorker article (Oct. 3, 2011) about coaching by Atul Gawande,  Personal Best: Top Athletes and singers have coaches.  Should you? The article is about all different types of coaches…more traditional athletic coaches and voice coaches, as well as an innovative coaching program for teachers, and his own quest to be coached on his surgical techniques by a retired surgeon.

I read the article from the perspective of a life coach and asked myself how his observations related to what I do.  The big take-away for me is that no matter what type of coaching he was talking about, it always came down to fresh eyes and a different perspective.  There is great value at having fresh eyes look at a situation and give input and observations.  An athlete can’t observe herself in the way a coach can, a teacher can’t see what he’s doing the same way an outsider can, a surgeon can’t notice the subtle things she does out of memory and habit, and we as individuals have a hard time seeing some of our patterns because they are all we know.

The big question Gawande poses at the end of his article is:  are people ready to accept that everyone has room for improvement?  Are we ready to hear what those fresh eyes see?  Are we ready to consider a different perspective?  Of his own first experience with a coach, he says “That one twenty-minute discussion gave me more to consider and work on than I’d had in the past five years.”

Whether you’re an athlete, executive, parent, teacher, surgeon or just someone trying to figure it all out…what might fresh eyes tell you?

I just read another article from The Atlantic that has my mind buzzing.  So much to think about!  On so many levels I don’t even know where to begin.  But I want to share it.  Right now.

I assume the article by Lori Gottlieb, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy” is mostly aimed at parents, but since we are all children to someone and deal with other human beings in our lives, I think it’s a great read for anyone.

Where do I fit into this?  How was I raised?  What am I doing?  What makes me happy? How are those around me doing things?  What is my reaction to how others do it?  What about the things that society encourages/discourages?  What is society?

My biggest take-away, is, Wow, I need to do some thinking about myself as a parent, as a coach to my clients and as a person. What is your reaction?

 

You’ve probably heard the question “What would Jesus do?” I know I’ve heard it, but I never gave it much thought. But now I’m playing around with the same idea and actually thinking about it. When I’m in a quandary or chasing my tail on something, I have taken to asking myself, “What would blank do?” The blank depends on the situation.

I’m really good at making some kinds of decisions, but when it comes to choosing a present for someone or even a bottle of wine, I can spend a lot of time questioning.  Ridiculous amounts of time!  I realize it’s crazy in the moment, but I can’t stop. So, now I ask myself “What would my sister do?” And it’s really helping me be more decisive on the little things. I don’t need to ask myself a million times if someone will like my gift or use it or need it or want it. I can just buy it with the best intentions and leave it be.

Another situation I face now and again is being out and thinking, hum, maybe I should get myself a treat, like a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, but my frugal and controlling self says that I don’t really need it. Then I waffle around for a while and usually head home. In these circumstances, I conjure up my husband. “What would B do?” The answer is always the same…he would buy the latte or the beer or the cookie! And sometimes that frees me up to do the same. Other times I realize that I really don’t want to do what he would do and that also feels better than living in waffle-land.

I guess the point is that realizing there are other ways to do things, other perspectives can be liberating and also bring clarity. Sometimes it makes me realize, “Oh yeah, that’s why I do it that way.” Or, “Why don’t I do something differently and see what happens.”

I remember during my coach training that we were given the assignment to adopt someone else’s perspective on money for an evening.  I chose my younger son.  To him money is about fun and spending and experimentation.  I know we have to live in the real world, but for one evening it was fun to just let go!

When do you get locked in your own perspective?  Who could you use as a model to reconsider that view?

***WARNING*** This blog post is about song lyrics.  If that is too cheesy for you, please wait for my next post!

Every once in a while I feel particularly moved or inspired by song lyrics or they make me think in a different way.  I consider writing about them, but I always decide that what moves each of us is so particular to us and to the moment that I should stay away from it.  So I have a rule not to write about song lyrics.  But I’m breaking that rule once.  The song came on yesterday as I was jogging, and although I usually skip over slower songs when I run I felt compelled to leave it on.  As I ran and breathed and thought it became clear to me why this time it was okay.  So here goes.

I was taking a walk a couple months ago listening to music and half paying attention/half letting my mind wander.  I had recently put a bunch of new music on my iPod, so there was some stuff I hadn’t heard yet.  I remember sort of liking a new song and feeling somehow connected, but still not really paying close attention.  And then the last line of the song played and it struck me:  “And there’s just no getting around the fact that you’re 13…right now. “

Wait a minute, I thought.  I’m not 13 right now!  And I think it’s precisely the “right now” that gets to me.  I’m not 13…I’m 44!  Why was I relating to a song that is all about a 13-year-old’s emotions?!  The song is Tell Yourself by Natalie Merchant.   Since then I have listened again and again, and yeah, it resonates.

So what I’ve come up with is how much it reminds me that my 13-year-old, 10-year-old, 18-year-old selves still reside in me.  No, that’s not quite right.  I know they’re there, but certain lines in the song made me reconsider my 13-year-old assumptions and feelings from a more compassionate place.  I’m not 13 now, and just as Natalie Merchant has an older person’s perspective, so do I.   So while it’s comfortable to tell myself certain things…mostly because I’ve been telling them to myself for so long, maybe it’s time to stop.  Maybe my 44-year-old self needs to step in with some perspective and support.  Maybe that would be good for both of us.  And so that’s what I’ve been doing in small ways and it feels really good.

What have you always told yourself?  What would it be like to change the story?

If you’re curious to hear the song, click here.    It’s attached to a video on YouTube with scenes from an Ingmar Bergman movie.  Personally, I would just listen and not watch…didn’t make much sense to me.