Posts Tagged "intention"

7 Reasons Why You Should Hug a Stranger

Posted on Feb 13, 2014 | 0 comments

7 Reasons Why You Should Hug a Stranger

Slow emphasises connection between people. This can be pretty straight-forward and obvious in the context of verbal exchanges; for example being quiet long enough to hear what someone else has to say and really listen. But human beings establish connection with each other primarily non-verbally. ‘Free Hugs’, a social play activity where you offer hugs to strangers in the street is not only fun, but also amazingly instructive in how we connect with others. Not only that, hugging and laughter are wonderful tools for healing and overcoming loneliness, depression and stress. Our fast-paced modern life threatens such practices by encouraging disconnection. Slow seeks to address this. Here are 7 reasons why you should take part in Free Hugs: 1. Oxytocin Hugs 20 seconds or more spark release of the hormone oxytocin. Dubbed ‘the bonding hormone,’ oxytocin also lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and protects the heart. 2. Practice skills in non-verbal communication and forming connection It doesn’t take long participating in free hugs before you learn that even though the sign says ‘free hugs’, the invitation to join in a hug is largely non-verbal. It becomes a game seeing how to entice people into a hug just using your facial and body expressions. Psychologist and best-selling author of Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrikson, says that there are two preconditions to such micro-moments of connection: that people feel safe and that there is a real-time sensory connection. 3. Get used to discomfort One of the most valuable things you can do for yourself to help you embrace your dreams and lead a fuller life is to get used to doing things that initially make you feel discomfort. Hugging a stranger may not come naturally (it didn’t for me) but discomfort is a sign of potential to change. Embrace it (literally in this case). 4. Realise what a difference you make to others just by shifting your intention  Positive emotion is more contagious than negative emotions. Giving free hugs you really see how easy it is to change someone’s day, even if they take a bit of encouragement to get over an initial negative reaction to your invitation. Take this as a lesson for how to improve relationships at home and work; even when you are finding someone’s behaviour challenging, focussing on increasing positive emotion between you provides practical payoff in the form of less hassle, more allies and more job satisfaction. 5. Play Our ability to learn is enhanced when we are in play. Plus it’s fun, you get an endorphin rush and stress levels are lowered (your parasympathetic nervous system is engaged). 6. Empathy and understanding Empathy is ridiculously important to our personal relationships but also to the functioning of global society! Practice it and you will soon find yourself in amazement at how much more you see in people. In the brief exchanges you have with people during free hugs, stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas are swept away as you realise that there is more to everyone than meets the eye. Even those who turn down your hugs leave you feeling compassion for them because you know they are the ones who would benefit the most and you start to see them as a more whole human being. Hugging also builds trust, a sense of safety and open and honest communication – see how well hugging creates a healthy society? 7. Make someone else happy And you become happier too. Hugging raises serotonin levels. Sign up for The Slow Project Newsletter Email Address* First Name Last Name * = required...

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The Slow way to make your routine work for you not against you

Posted on Feb 1, 2014 | 0 comments

The Slow way to make your routine work for you not against you

This is something I never thought a non-conformist fond of change and exercising creativity like me would admit – routine is important. More so if no one else (such as an employer) is providing the structure for you. I had overlooked just what effect waking up every morning and being able to what I wanted, when I wanted, would have. I guess I had assumed that I would get to work 9-5 just like before but in a different location. Boy was I wrong. What are the implications of a lack of routine? The main issue is that using your limited pool of conscious effort to make decisions about things other than your important tasks means that you are significantly less effective than if you devoted the majority of your Slow Thinking daily quota to your daily priorities. As discussed here, your Slow Thinking system appears to draw from the same limited pool of available effort as willpower. Looking at routine as a subject for the project was not what I thought I would be focussing on in the early days. But following the realisation about effectiveness and its relationship with routine I had to quickly redress the balance of structure in my day before I flittered away too much time (and yes this does sound like someone for whom Slow does not come naturally. The purposeful part of Slow does for me, but not the patience part). Having a consciously chosen routine means your mind is freed up to focus on what is important. Being on autopilot is not Slow, but deliberately choosing what to allow routines to take care of in order to stay purposeful, is. Much like my journey with living with intention, this is all a work in progress but thought I would share some lessons as I go: Things like eating well and exercising are important, especially for someone like me who values health extremely highly. But I also go overboard with focusing on this and spend too much effort making decision about what and when I eat and exercise. Don’t let one of your values have too much sway over your routine – it will crowd out other values you hold, in this case my value of ‘contributing with purpose.’ Think about what time of day works best for you to complete certain activities, create and stick to a schedule so you no longer need to think about what you do when. For example what works for me is doing some form of centring and contemplative practice when I get out of bed,  exercise, then going into the most important task I have to complete that day that involves mental effort. Similarly, use natural rhythms and cycles to find the right routine, not just any routine. Getting myself to bed earlier is the main habit I’m working on because our melatonin/seratonin cycle guides our sleep and waking patterns. Seratonin is highest just before sunrise and melatonin at sunset; being in sync with the earth’s circadian rhythms has many benefits (sleeping better, reducing sugar cravings, increasing optimism and pro-activeness to name a few). Having a routine in terms of how you structure your day helps you keep in mind what your intent is for each part of the day. Use this, don’t multitask, limit distractions. Goals versus systems – using systems (routines) to achieve progress to desired outcomes is much more empowering and enables you to focus on the small steps which lead to success. For more on this topic here is a great blog post by James Clear Do you have any tips for...

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Having intention vs living with intention

Posted on Jan 20, 2014 | 0 comments

Having intention vs living with intention

Leading up to the New Year, I had planned to write a substantial blog post on intention setting. As the time drew nearer however I became increasingly anxious about that. Not because I couldn’t write about the theory and practice of intention setting, but because I still feel there is a decent gap between I intend to be and where I am. I felt like I would be being disingenuous writing about intention setting from this state. But then I remembered that the point of this phase of the project is to use my story of transformation to help others, not from the point of view of ‘expert’! I also realised what a difference there is between having intention and living with intention.  I already had a strong intention when I had the idea for the Slow Project. As I mentioned in this post, I was actively searching for a way I could contribute using my strengths, experience and interest. I had already done a lot of reflecting and sketching out of rough ideas. With the intent so clear it seemed completely natural when the inspiration and idea for the Slow Project occurred. What came next was me learning about how I had to transform myself in order to deliver on this intent. After a while, when I thought I had done quite a lot of learning about the importance of routine and removing the need to decide on things that don’t matter, I was waiting for my behaviour to all fall into place. And I waited some more. And then I got frustrated at myself. This frustration was the gap between my intent and how I was living day to day. So finally (yes I was impatient, but as I mentioned I need this Slow transition myself!), I began to implement small steps to help bridge that gap, instead of expecting it to happen all at once. Let me share with you the top 3 things that have helped me keep my intention closer (still integrating and adjusting with these practices) to me as I move throughout my day: 1. Begin each morning consciously  This means spending a few moments centring yourself and refreshing your intent. Quite a few practices can help here, I have mostly experimented with yoga, breathing exercises and visualisation to reconnect with my long term sense of purpose and intent for the coming day. 2. Decide what are the three or four most important things to achieve each week I have untold numbers of lists of ‘important’ things to do. By focussing on what the most important few things this week are it has helped me recognise everything else as a distraction. I use this weekly list in my morning visualisation. Next I will write it down a piece of paper and carry it around with me since I tend to do work in various locations. 3. Practice just in time information, not just in case information This was, and continues to be, a big one for me. I love getting creative and generating option after option. So I’m drawn to doing a lot of reading and exploring about the topic. If this searching is not focussed however, your brain ends up swimming. Much more effective is to recognise when you are ready to stop intaking and start creating and limit your information intake to only that which is immediately relevant. Aside from being more effective when utilising these practices, there have been surprising benefits: synchronicity – those ‘wow that couldn’t be just chance’ moments have increased increased ability to turn down distractions and...

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