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Thriving Versus Sustainability: The Deeper Perspective in the Face of Modern Challenges

Published : 25 December 2023

The article discusses the transition from a sustainability mindset to one of thriving, particularly in the corporate world. It highlights the limitations of viewing sustainability as merely maintaining the status quo, avoiding risks, and preserving resources, arguing that this approach can hinder growth and innovation. By contrasting the attitudes of two hypothetical managers, Sarah and Alex, the article illustrates how a focus on sustainability can lead to stagnation, whereas embracing a thriving mindset, characterized by welcoming change and viewing setbacks as opportunities, can lead to growth and innovation. The article delves into the psychology behind these mindsets, noting that a sustainability mindset often stems from fear and scarcity, while a thriving mindset is rooted in abundance and possibility. Key to thriving are resilience and equanimity, qualities that enable individuals and organizations to adapt to challenges, innovate, and excel. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of moving beyond mere sustainability to thriving, which involves embracing change, cultivating resilience, maintaining equanimity, and prioritizing holistic well-being, thereby unlocking the full potential of individuals, teams, and organizations.

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Unmasking the Mind’s Tug of War: Cognitive Dissonance and Resilience

Published: 25 September 2023

The article delves into the psychological concept of cognitive dissonance, using Erika's struggles with maintaining a healthy lifestyle despite indulging in unhealthy eating as an example. It emphasizes how this internal conflict impacts one's ability to cope with stress and adversity. The piece elucidates the neuroscience behind cognitive dissonance, discussing the involvement of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, which contribute to stress responses and conflict resolution, respectively. Strategies like self-awareness, cognitive reappraisal, cognitive restructuring, fostering positive belief systems, and seeking social support are highlighted as tools to mitigate cognitive dissonance and enhance resilience. By aligning actions with values and understanding the interplay between cognitive dissonance and resilience, individuals can navigate conflicts more effectively, fostering personal growth and emotional balance.

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Escaping the Trap of Perfectionism Through Self-Compassion

Published: 25 July 2023

The article discusses the trap of perfectionism in today's fast-paced world and how it can hinder success and well-being. It highlights the power of self-compassion as a transformative practice to escape this trap. The author shares real-life experiences and research on the subject, emphasizing the damaging effects of perfectionism on mental health and performance. Embracing self-compassion involves self-kindness, mindfulness, and recognition of common humanity, leading to resilience, creativity, and improved relationships. The article also explores how organizations can benefit from promoting self-compassion among employees, fostering a more supportive and successful work culture.

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The Controversial Mental Skill of Indifference

Published: 25 March 2023

This article explores the concept of indifference as a cognitive reframing technique for building mental and emotional resilience. By adopting indifference, individuals can detach themselves from unhelpful thinking, maintain a balanced perspective, and avoid becoming overwhelmed by negative experiences. Indifference allows for selective exposure to news and helps prevent excessive stress and anxiety caused by continuous exposure to negative news cycles. Furthermore, indifference aids in practicing cold empathy, which enables a more objective and effective approach to helping others without being emotionally overwhelmed. Indifference should not be confused with apathy or lack of empathy, as it promotes balance and resilience while maintaining compassion.

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The Fundamentals of Building Resilience

Published: 25 January 2023

This artifcler examines the concept of resilience, drawing insights from research, podcast interviews, and client work. It highlights the importance of bouncing back from setbacks and explores a case study of a client named Hunter, who faced pressure due to high self-imposed expectations. The key principles of resilience discussed include reevaluating expectations, practicing self-compassion, balancing short and long-term goals, cultivating gratitude, and engaging in open conversations with others. The summary concludes by encouraging readers to embrace challenges and opportunities while building resilience.

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Mangaing Your Expectations

Published:25 November 2022

Our brains create a simulated version of reality based on our senses, but it may not accurately represent the complete picture. Managing expectations is crucial to avoid disappointment when reality doesn't align with our hopes. This involves becoming aware of our expectations, assessing their realism, and actively communicating and reinforcing them. By actively managing our expectations, we can avoid unrealistic hopes and improve our overall well-being.

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Take Back Your Power

Published: 25 September 2022

A parent shares a story of how their son learned to take ownership of his emotions and not let others dictate how he feels. They discuss the signs of giving away power and the benefits of reclaiming it, emphasizing the importance of self-empowerment and accountability. The parent also discusses the fear of saying no and the need to set boundaries, emphasizing the balance between helping others and taking care of oneself. The article explores the role of confidence and reframing language in reclaiming power, as well as providing strategies for recuperation and recovery in overwhelming situations.

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The Science of Gratitude

Published: 25 July 2022

During a typical family dinner, a realization dawns upon them that their time together is finite. Gratitude becomes their way of appreciating the present moment and countering the brain's negativity bias. Scientific studies show that gratitude activates brain regions associated with happiness and well-being. By practicing gratitude, they engage their prefrontal cortex, enhancing cognitive abilities and fostering a sense of reflection and well-being.

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Mastering Emotions: Failure vs. Regret

Published: 25 June 2022

The fear of failure can hinder us from reaching our full potential and achieving our dreams. It stems from our focus on worst-case scenarios and the fear of regret in the future. Bronnie Ware's book "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" highlights common regrets, including not living a life true to oneself, working too hard, suppressing feelings, neglecting friendships, and not allowing oneself to be happier. While failure offers second chances and opportunities for growth, regret is permanent and causes lasting pain. By shifting our perspective, embracing the temporary nature of pain, focusing on the present actions, and acknowledging past achievements, we can overcome the fear of failure and minimize future regrets.

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Active Awareness: The Essence of Resilience

Published: 25 March 2022

The article discusses the Tetris effect, where prolonged exposure to a particular activity influences the way we think and perceive the world. It explains that our brains are wired to focus on specific information based on our training and experiences. The reticular activating system (RAS) is a key component that filters sensory information and determines what is relevant to our conscious awareness. The article provides examples of how the RAS functions in various situations, such as driving and parenting. It suggests that we can consciously train our RAS to focus on specific goals or interests by actively choosing what we want to be aware of. The author shares techniques, like gratitude exercises and journaling, to enhance positive awareness and resilience. Ultimately, the article emphasizes the importance of actively shaping our perception of the world through intentional awareness and meaning assignment.

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The Long Game Versus the Short Game

Published: 25 January 2022

The author reflects on their past focus on chasing wins and accomplishments without celebrating them, realizing that they were always driven by a sense of lacking and an insatiable hunger for the next achievement. They acknowledge the need to shift their focus to the present and the efforts they can make, rather than obsessing over future outcomes. They introduce the concepts of the short game (effort and actions in the present) and the long game (future goals), emphasizing the importance of investing attention in the present to achieve future objectives. They highlight the negative effects of focusing too much on what is lacking and the importance of acknowledging progress and using hindsight as a reference point. In times of adversity, they suggest asking focused questions to regain control and confidence, and they provide a set of outcome-focused and effort-focused questions to guide one's thinking. They emphasize the significance of taking action and making decisions to counteract inaction and indecision. Finally, they stress the importance of using reference points, both in terms of hindsight and compass, to measure progress and ensure alignment with desired outcomes.

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The Art of Constructive Confrontation

Published:25 November 2021

This article explores the reasons why people often avoid having difficult conversations and the negative consequences of avoiding them. It highlights common fears associated with challenging conversations, such as hurting others, dealing with emotional reactions, and facing personal change. The author emphasizes that the first difficult conversation is often with oneself, as it requires overcoming the fear of damaging relationships. Ignoring issues and hoping they will resolve themselves only leads to frustration and perpetuates unwanted behavior. The article also explains how framing confrontations as threats triggers avoidance responses and the importance of addressing disagreements constructively. Constructive confrontation, characterized by respect and compassion, can increase trust and respect in relationships. It is crucial to prepare for challenging conversations by clarifying intentions and aligning the impact of the message with the desired outcome. The article concludes that investing time in preparing for difficult conversations can lead to improved relationships, job satisfaction, and productivity. With practice and effort, these conversations become easier and less daunting.

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Learning: Embracing the Struggle

Published: 25 September 2021

The brain has a paradoxical relationship with learning: it seeks both familiarity and uncertainty. It is most receptive to learning when it navigates between exploiting what it knows and exploring what it doesn't. Learning requires active output, such as reflection, implementation, and teaching, rather than just passive input. Struggling and embracing frustration are crucial for learning, as the brain responds to the error signals by releasing neuromodulators that promote motivation and learning. Myelin growth, which enhances neural circuit efficiency, occurs when we actively engage in learning and make mistakes. To optimize learning, we should adopt a recovery and discovery approach, which involves gathering, reflecting, capturing, and reviewing new knowledge in short bursts. Continuous learning is essential to avoid stagnation and irrelevance in any field.

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Proximity Bias: The Distance We Need to Bridge

Published: 25 July 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to adapt to remote work, discovering what worked well and what didn't in terms of collaboration and communication. As more individuals get vaccinated and offices begin to reopen, a hybrid working environment will likely become the new norm. However, one of the challenges that will need to be addressed is proximity bias, which refers to overvaluing physical proximity and assuming that in-office work is more productive. This bias can create awkwardness and anxiety when people return to the office after being accustomed to social distancing. To combat proximity bias, organizations should raise awareness of the issue, establish protocols to include remote team members, and create opportunities for open communication and collaboration. By doing so, companies can create a more inclusive working environment and mitigate the negative effects of proximity bias.

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The Power of Breath

Published: 25 May 2021

The article discusses the importance of breathing in managing stress and promoting mental and emotional well-being. It explains how conscious control of breathing can positively affect brain activity and the body's stress response. The article emphasizes the significance of nasal breathing over mouth breathing, highlighting its benefits in improving oxygen intake, activating the vagus nerve, and releasing nitric oxide. Different breathing protocols are presented, such as specific breath ratios, physiological sighs, the 4-7-8 breathing technique, and box breathing, each aimed at inducing a calm state and managing stress. The author shares personal experiences and highlights the scientific basis behind these protocols, encouraging readers to implement them for stress management and overall health.

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Engaging the Expectation – Experience Loop

Published: 25 January 2021

The article reflects on the author's mixed feelings of trepidation and positive expectation for the new year, influenced by the turbulence of 2020. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the interplay between expectations and experiences. Expectations shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and experiences provide raw and authentic lessons that can reshape our expectations. The article suggests embracing experiences by reflecting on the takeaways, implementing the lessons learned, and sharing them with others. It also encourages interpreting negative thoughts and emotions as information rather than unquestionable truths and focusing attention on concrete actions to regain certainty and autonomy. Ultimately, the article highlights the opportunity to approach 2021 with a mindset of growth and adaptation.

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Why Talking About Our Problems is so Helpful

Published 25 November 2020

The article emphasizes the importance of talking about our problems and how it can be cathartic. It highlights several aspects of effective communication, such as labeling emotions, asking questions, finding the right person to talk to, and gaining perspective through language. The article suggests that talking helps us process our thoughts and emotions, gain insight, and ultimately take action. Additionally, it mentions the alternative of writing as a means of articulating and evaluating our thoughts. The article concludes by providing a list of helpful questions that can aid in working through thoughts and emotions.

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Psychological Safety

Published: 25 September 2020

The article emphasizes the importance of psychological safety in navigating uncertainty and trauma, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights that psychological well-being has received little attention compared to physical safety measures. The author explores the role of the brain in processing emotions, such as emotional contagion and the impact of authority figures. The insula, which enables interoceptive awareness, is discussed as a crucial element in understanding psychological safety. The article concludes by suggesting tools and strategies, such as connection signals, one-to-one meetings, reflective listening, and a shared sense of purpose, to foster psychological safety and create a people-centric culture.

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Reskilling: The Future Skill that is Needed Now

Published:25 July 2020

The article highlights the significant changes and disruptions that have occurred on a global scale, challenging our perception of normalcy. It emphasizes the importance of embracing curiosity and being open to new experiences in order to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world. The need for continuous learning, agility, and adaptability is emphasized, as technological advancements and evolving industries render certain skills and professions obsolete. The article provides practical steps to foster a mindset of learning, including setting clear goals, investing time in personal growth, finding intrinsic motivation, and seeking feedback from others. Ultimately, the article asserts that the ability to learn and adapt will be crucial in navigating the uncertainties and disruptions of the future.

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The Art and Science of Feedback

Published: 25 May 2020

The article emphasizes the importance of feedback in promoting learning, development, and confidence. It discusses four types of feedback: supportive, corrective, abusive, and insignificant. Supportive feedback highlights the positive aspects of someone's behavior or performance, while corrective feedback addresses areas for improvement. Abusive feedback is harmful and unproductive, while insignificant feedback lacks depth and undermines trust. The article provides models for giving supportive and corrective feedback, emphasizing the importance of focusing on behavior rather than personality. It also suggests asking for feedback to facilitate personal and professional growth and highlights the role of feedback in breaking down organizational silos and fostering collaboration.

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Are You an Imposter?

Published: 25 March 2020

Imposter syndrome, characterized by self-doubt and attributing success to luck, affects up to 70% of individuals at some point in their careers. The syndrome can impact people of all genders, professions, and age groups, eroding self-confidence and triggering anxiety. To combat imposter syndrome, adopting the role of an observer and being aware of one's thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations is crucial. The MINDtalk model offers four approaches: attentional shifts, fostering a positive outlook by reflecting on confident hobbies, rewriting unhelpful narratives, and managing energy through self-care and pursuing passions. Although not a cure-all, these steps can help individuals regain control and seek support in overcoming imposter syndrome.

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The Science of Sleep

Published:25 January 2020

In this article, Jason Liem explores the science of sleep and its impact on our daily lives. Liem describes the negative effects of sleep deprivation, such as difficulty focusing and decreased engagement. He emphasizes the importance of sleep for children, as lack of sleep can lead to hyperactive and disruptive behavior. The article delves into the functions of sleep, including the consolidation of learning and memory, and the physical and chemical processes that occur during sleep to cleanse the brain of toxins. Liem also explains the twin sleep systems in the brain and provides sleep tactics, such as strategic napping and reducing exposure to light from smart devices before bedtime, to improve sleep quality.

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The Paradox of Certainty

Published: 25 November 2019

The article explores the human desire for certainty and how it can hinder personal growth and achievement. It suggests that seeking certainty was evolutionarily beneficial for survival, but in modern times, it often prevents individuals from stepping outside their comfort zones. The author emphasizes that to achieve success and personal development, one must embrace uncertainty and take risks. Staying in a state of certainty for too long can lead to boredom and complacency. The article encourages readers to align their thoughts with action, make choices that move them forward, and overcome the fear of uncertainty to live a more fulfilling life.

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The Trap of Overthinking

Published: 25 July 2019

In this article, Jason Liem discusses the concept of overthinking and its negative impact on our well-being. Overthinking, also known as rumination, is a common symptom of anxiety and depression, where individuals get stuck in a repetitive cycle of negative thoughts and emotions. Liem explains that rumination is a habit-forming process that can change the structure of the brain, making it harder to break free from overthinking. To counter rumination, he suggests several actions such as reframing thoughts into questions, recognizing positive moments, journaling to capture and analyze thoughts, engaging in activities that distract from overthinking, gaining perspective on perceived dangers, and seeking support from trusted individuals or professionals. By taking action and implementing these strategies, individuals can reduce the impact of overthinking and regain control of their thoughts and actions.

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Keep Empathy in Mind

Published: 24 May 2019

Empathy is a skill that can be improved through practice and training, and it played a crucial role in the survival of our ancestors. The ability to empathize and cooperate with others increased their chances of survival in a world of scarcity. Research has shown that each person has a dedicated empathy circuit in the brain, which enhances communication and the ability to relate to others. Empathy also has a significant impact on social currency, which refers to a person's reputation and how others perceive their communication, collaboration, and cooperation. The more empathetic a person is, the more respect, trust, and influence they gain within a group. However, as individuals gain more power, there is a risk of empathy diminishing, leading to a shift towards coercive power and a focus on the self rather than the collective. It is important to keep empathy and power in check by actively seeking feedback and considering others' perspectives to maintain a strong reputation and influence.

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Building Relationships One Thought at a Time

Published: 25 March 2019

This article discusses the importance of taking ownership of our thoughts and emotions in order to build stronger relationships, both with others and with ourselves. The author shares a client's experience of blaming a colleague for her frustration, but realizing that it was her own thoughts about the situation that caused her feelings. By adopting an inside-out mindset, we recognize that our feelings arise from our own thinking and that we have control over our emotional state. The article emphasizes the need to focus on our own thoughts, rather than assigning blame to external factors, and to challenge self-critical beliefs by recognizing them as opinions that can be rewritten. Ultimately, building relationships starts with taking responsibility for our thoughts and emotions.

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The Deeper Need: Emotional Validation

Published: 25 January 2019

This article emphasizes the importance of emotional validation when offering help to someone who is upset. While the initial instinct may be to provide solutions and advice, it is crucial to first acknowledge and validate the person's emotions. By reflecting back their feelings and demonstrating understanding, we create a safe space for them to process their thoughts and feelings. When individuals feel emotionally validated, they are more likely to transition from a problem-focused mindset to a solution-oriented one. It is important to remember that when people seek support, they often desire a listening ear and a sounding board to work through their emotions before focusing on solutions.

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Self-confidence versus self-doubt

Published: 26 November 2018

This article delves into the struggle between self-confidence and self-doubt that many people experience. Often, self-doubt wins out, causing hesitation and overthinking, leading individuals to settle for what is comfortable rather than taking opportunities for growth. The brain categorizes situations into resources and demands, and when faced with novel situations, the perception of whether the demands exceed the resources determines whether it is seen as a challenge or a threat. Building self-confidence involves embracing failure, focusing on the present, understanding the value of failure, and asking oneself constructive questions after setbacks. Ultimately, taking action and embracing opportunities can fortify self-confidence and weaken self-doubt.

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Building a Better You by Building a Better Brain

Published: 25 July 2018

This article discusses the concept of neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to change and adapt throughout life. It explains that our brains have evolved to form habits in order to conserve energy, as thinking requires a lot of energy. Habits allow us to automate repeated behaviors, freeing up attention for more pressing matters. The article highlights that the brain continues to reorganize itself by forming new brain cells and neural connections, and neuroplasticity underlies all learning. By understanding and harnessing the principles of neuroplasticity, we can consciously shape our brain's structure and function through our interactions with the external world and our thoughts, leading to personal growth and development.

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Is Your Thinking Helping You or Hindering You?

Published: 25 May 2018

In this article, Jason Liem discusses the power of self-reflection in reducing self-critical thoughts and judgments. Our thoughts, which form our internal narrative, can lead to negative thinking patterns and rumination. Negative thoughts are a result of our brain's evolutionary programming to focus on error signals and potential threats. However, we can change our relationship with our thoughts by becoming aware of them without judgment. By strengthening the part of our brain responsible for inhibiting action, we can more effectively distinguish helpful from harmful thoughts and prevent ourselves from getting caught in rumination. Practicing mindfulness, such as focusing on our breath, can help shift our attention away from unhelpful thoughts and train our brains to reduce self-criticism and negative judgments.