Tis the Season for…Upselling!

Duck! The most famous retail day of the US year is streaking towards the mall nearest you. I mean the day after Thanksgiving, of course. Unless you love to “shop till you drop,” you, like me, won’t be joining the early birds at the mall at midnight Thanksgiving evening. I place a higher value on sleep than spending.

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Putting PEP in Your Holidays

Recently, I read a book by Julie Morgenstern, the time management guru. She mentions the need that every busy executive (and that’s all of us!) has for PEP. In her research on how to help stressed business people find balance, she noticed that at least one of three elements were often missing:

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Love Map App

Just in time for Valentines day – those of you with iPhones stuffed in your purse or pocket can download a new app by Drs. Gottman, the Love Map app. One of the findings from Drs. Gottman’s extensive research is that couples who know the details of their partners’ likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, and aspirations are more likely to show resilience under stress. This resiliance, of course, reduces the likelihood of a couple turning against each other when things get tough. The Love Map app is a set of virtual cards that allow partners to play a fun game and get to know their partner – thus bringing more strength (and humor) into their relationship. Don and I downloaded this app and, even after 29 years of marriage, we found some surprises.

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Presents of Presence

Holidays have their own particular kind of stresses, ones that often involves our feelings of give and take.

We think of give and take in terms of gifts–that is, in terms of tangible objects, or “stuff” in Annie Leonard’s terms. To get that “stuff” of course we have to give our time, talent and life energy to work. And usually, that takes us away from those we love and for whom we ultimately make the gift of our work. Sometimes it seems that work takes more than it gives, and that the struggle to keep up is endless. We lack good models for finding ways of balancing the demands of work with the benefits we receive from our efforts against the pressures of family and our community.

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How Touch Communicates Feelings

I recently came across a fascinating little video clip by Dacher Keltner, PhD.  His work builds on earlier research showing how touch subconsciously affects people. He claims that we can discern up to twelve different common emotional states of other people through the quality of their touch! In the study, participants were unable to see or hear the person who touched them. The person who did the touching was asked to feel and then communicate a specific emotional state through a one second contact with other person’s forearm.  For almost all cases, participants – of either gender – were able to identify correctly most of the time the feeling the “toucher” was attempting to communicate. There were two very interesting exceptions. When a woman was trying to communicate to a man the emotion of anger, he had no idea what emotional state she was trying communicate. Conversely, when a man attempted to communicate compassion through his touch, the woman could not identify that emotion correctly. No wonder we have issues of gender communication! These two exceptions aside, this research would indicate that human beings are designed to be in contact with each other and to read and respond to emotional states from many different cues: facial expression, gesture, voice tone, and now touch, all clue us in to what another person is feeling.

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I’ve Been Framed! How Constellations Can Help.

I’ve been thinking about this question for about 11 years now. Even got a graduate degree – and I’m still thinking about it!  Recently I was reminded of this question when I saw a video on the web of cognitive linguist, George Lakoff, discussing cognitive frames. Whatever your political beliefs (and Lakoff is unapologetically progressive), the first 18 minutes of this video are one of the clearest explanations of why rational thought is not what we think it is, and how mental frames work. Lakoff points out that mental frames are neurological patterns in our brains. The old saying, “neurons that fire together wire together” is true for the thoughts we think. The more we are exposed to and reinforce certain beliefs and ideas, the more “real” they become to us. That’s why it’s often harder to change our beliefs than we expect. It’s not like flipping a switch. We literally have to make a change in the connections between the neurons in our brains.

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Space, The Final Frontier

For those of you “seasoned” enough to have watched the original Star Trek on television, you’ll recognize these as the words that series creator Gene Roddenberry chose to be solemnly intoned at the beginning of each show. I picked this title because it seems that “space” — the kind of breathing space that makes for harmonious relationships — is in short supply in most of our time-stressed lives. Yet, creating space, that sense of ease, of having the space to take a moment before responding can make all the difference in our relationships and in our lives.

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SocialSoma

What is a SocialSoma? Let me start with some definitions. Social, well, that’s the easy part. Social, in the sense I am using it addresses the matrix of relationships that make up our lives, primarily I’ll focus on those relationships with other people. We need each other, we are made up out of our relationships. An isolated human being is a sorry thing. We are born, live, are defined by, and die within a living, breathing web of human relationships.

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