Month: February 2017

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If Journaling Is For Teenage Girls, Buy Me Some Hair Clips

A few years ago, a friend recommended that I try journaling when I was working in the ad agency world and suffering from stress. At the time, I was in my early 40s and my response was literally, “Do I look like a teenage girl?” This was meant to be funny. At the time, I looked like a teenage girl’s middle aged father.

When I looked into the “science” behind journaling (not realizing that was even a thing), what I found was fairly surprising:

  • Writing can boost immunity for people battling terminal or life-threatening diseases
  • Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events, people are significantly more likely to have fewer illnesses and be less affected by trauma
  • Gratitude journaling can improve sleep
  • People who were unemployed and started journaling found work 68% faster

 

Since my very skeptical introduction to journaling, I’ve found it to be an incredibly powerful mindfulness practice. It helps to calm and focus the mind. I’m able to work through difficult thoughts or prepare for hard conversations. It allows me to anchor back to the things that are important in my life; something we could all use a little more of. And I enjoy capturing future plans. There’s something about writing them down and committing that makes them come to be. Commit and the universe moves in your favor. Intention matters.

 

“Commit and the universe moves in your favor. Intention matters.”

 

The primary benefit has not been in having the written history. Instead, it’s provided an active training tool to help me manage a busy and sometimes stressful life.

As I’m flipping through my journals, I came across an old post. This is from the night I first met my wife. At the time, I had been single in New York City for ten years. While I enjoyed dating in the big city, I often found it lonely and unfulfilling. Worse, I was at high risk of becoming one of those approaching 40, used to being on my own, stuck in my ways kinda guys. Until that night, I’d never journaled about a relationship.

 

“Tonight, I met a woman named Sarah Swanson. She is a beautiful South African woman and I believe that she will steal my heart.

We talked, laughed and danced at Kevin’s birthday party. I asked her out to dinner within five minutes of meeting her. She is smart, has the most beautiful smile, incredibly honest eyes and the grace of a dove (despite falling off of her stool and into my lap).

I learned that she is at the tail end of a breakup. I told her that although I’m sorry for that, I am also happy for me… assuming she’d accept my dinner invitation.

Well, she did. And I can’t remember ever being so excited to meet someone again. Fingers crossed. After having only known her for a few hours, I knew that I have never felt this way about someone before. I believe I may have just met my wife. Thank you fate (and to Kristin for putting in a good word for me).

 

Over the time we dated, I journaled quite a bit, and especially exploring why past relationships hadn’t worked out. I even saved our email correspondence and letters and compiled them into a book – the journal of my relationship with Sarah. Two and a half years later we were married. In hindsight, it was fun to capture intentions, work through my own limitations as a long-time bachelor and explore another person in writing. Not texts, but actual correspondence.

I now use journaling to work through all manner of life’s challenges and opportunities. For stressed out, Type-A guys, you may find the biggest benefit to be calming and focusing the mind a few times a week. You may find it to be a great way to relax and help the brain recover. News, TV and social media generally don’t do that. In fact, science suggests they provide the opposite experience.

 

“I now use journaling to work through all manner of life’s challenges and opportunities”

 

Or you may find my journaling to be weird for a grown man. Surely, that’s okay. In the meantime, pass me my hair clips… and don’t call me Shirley.

***

Joe Burton is the founder and CEO of Whil Concepts, Inc. (“Whil”). He’s an entrepreneur in scientific wellbeing, former President of Headspace and spent fifteen years as a global COO in public companies. Joe is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and regular contributor to Forbes, Business Insider and The Huffington Post. He’s worked in over 50 countries and travels the world speaking on topics including disruption, culture, employee safety and mindfulness as competitive advantage. Joe is also a certified Search Inside Yourself instructor. He discovered mindfulness as a super stressed executive after dismissing it as “definitely not for me” and it changed his life.

Whil is the leader in digital wellbeing training. They help employees reduce stress, increase resiliency and improve performance with programs based in science, mindfulness and positive psychology.

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Mindfulness & 4-Letter Words with Darya Rose

You know you’re in for a treat when you ask someone to explain who they are and they reply with, “sometimes I describe myself as a Vulcan.” Darya Rose authored the popular healthy-living book Foodist, created the digital content platform Summer Tomato, and recently launched the Mindful Meal Challenge, a 5-day challenge that helps you develop a mindful eating habit through daily emails and video lessons.  As you can probably tell, she leads quite a busy life.

Adopting a Healthstyle

Darya is a scientist at heart and she uses her background in neuroscience to help readers understand her concept of healthstyle. Healthstyle is a very personal set of all-encompassing healthy habits that include things like eating, exercising, and being mindful. But one thing it is not is that nasty four-letter word diet.

“I use it as a bad word,” explains Darya. “It’s a scientific term, but in pop culture it means restrictive food intake for the sake of weight loss.” Healthstyle isn’t just about weight loss, it’s about optimizing your quality of life in both body and mind. And one of the ways Darya teaches people to adopt a healthstyle is by developing a set of habits that help your mind feel just as good as your body.

'Healthstyle is about optimizing your quality of life in both body and mind' Click To Tweet

One of the ways Darya helps explain this notion of healthy habits is through her idea of putting the fork down. When eating a meal, we typically prepare the next bite as we’re chewing the first. It’s natural, it’s instinctual, and it’s a trigger our brains use to help save energy. But as soon as we become aware of this trigger, we become more mindful of how much and how fast we eat. “We live 90% of our lives on autopilot,” explains Darya. “Being aware of your triggers is incredibly powerful.”

 

The Value of Meditation

Darya has been practicing meditation for years. She admits it wasn’t easy getting started, but after going on a silent meditation retreat in 2015, her life hasn’t been the same. “I work better, I concentrate better, I’m slower to anger, I’m less reactive in general – I wish everybody could experience that,” she says. “But,” she continues, “mindfulness is not your brain’s norm, it’s like learning a language, you have to practice.”

Journaling Brings Meaning

Currently Darya doesn’t journal, but she fully supports those who do, especially those who have experienced trauma. The act of writing down thoughts can be extremely therapeutic because it can help bring meaning to a traumatic event. Getting started with journaling can be difficult because as Darya puts it, “confronting your own brain is terrifying,” but it’s a beneficial habit that can be developed over time.

'The act of writing down thoughts can be extremely therapeutic' Click To Tweet

Daily Reflection

Obviously, Darya isn’t actually a Vulcan, but we understand why she’s proud to describe herself as someone who takes pride in logic and reason. Her scientific background and ability to understand the value of mindfulness has helped her focus on what is important in her life. “I take time out of my day to cook, work out, spend time with my dog and my husband – those are things that are important to me,” she explains.

Darya’s Questions for the KYŌ App:

  • What are you doing today that has meaning?
  • How will you focus on what is important to you?
  • What are you grateful for?
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Exercising Your Creativity with Justin Teodoro

Justin Teodoro is a Queens-based artist, illustrator & designer. Originally from Vancouver, BC, Justin moved to New York 11 years ago to attend Parsons School of Design to study fashion design. “I’ve always been the artistic kid in school, and my dream was always to come to New York and live that life. It took me a while to figure out what that dream was, and fashion was something I was always interested in and was aware of but I never knew how to get into the industry,” he explains. Following an undergrad in Toronto, Justin excelled at Parsons and has been working in the fashion industry ever since graduating, working most recently at Kenneth Cole.

It was only around three years ago, however, that Justin realized that fashion wasn’t his true calling. So, he left his corporate position and started working for himself. “Like any designer, I thought about starting my own line, but I slowly realized that wasn’t exactly what I wanted,” he elaborates. He states that he was “separating the art side from the fashion side for a while; it was a day and night type of thing.” Eventually, Justin started taking on more and more graphic design and illustration projects outside of work and he quickly realized that’s the route he’s meant to take.  He breaks it down, explaining, “I do better when I’m doing a bunch of different things at once. When I was a designer, it was like ‘this is what you do’ and it’s very systematic.”

THE PROCESS

“I’m getting better at being my own boss, managing my time and my expectations, and just figuring out exactly what I can get done,” Justin admits.  He begins any project by asking himself “is this something I see myself doing?” He’s aware that he can’t be overly picky, but he does make an effort to only take on jobs that make sense for him and his style. He elaborates, stating, “When I take on a project, I definitely try to see what I can do that’s different from what I’ve done in the past and different for whoever I’m working with. Also, what are they looking for from me? How can I add my stamp to it?”

Justin’s ’stamp’ is what landed him an opportunity with another one of our interview subjects, Adam Hurly. Adam, the writer and editor of The Perspectives, loved Justin’s style and hired him to do all the illustrations for the popular serial. Together, they’ve created a superb product with a loyal fan-base.

He learnt from his career as a designer the importance of showing your ideas to your client (or boss or collaborator) before getting started. He stresses the importance of “brainstorming on my own and then showing the client my ideas before I start. I always treat these projects as collaborative as can be, and it builds a trust factor. Once I get the green light, I can just go with it.”

 

BALANCE

Like any self-employed freelancer, there are obvious ups and downs. For Justin, its important “I try and step out of it once in a while, especially when I get moments of mental block or frustration.” His most likely escape is just getting out, whether it’s to see friends or sisters, who happen to live in the city as well. He likes to take yoga classes when he can, or go to museums or shows; anything to stimulate the mind and keep him engaged. Even things as simple as watching a movie or reading a book help Justin separate his work life from his personal life.

I 'try and step out of it once in a while' Click To Tweet

One important thing that he’s learning is the ability to not stress and to treat his career like a job. The pressure of getting things done immediately can be torturous, so Justin is learning “to treat it like a job and work the hours that anyone else would.” This way, it stays fun. He elaborates on that, pointing out that, “There has to be an element of fun to it. Always remember to have fun. I would never want to see it as work instead of something I enjoy doing.”

'I would never want to see it as work instead of something I enjoy doing' Click To Tweet

Like any good artist, Justin treats his talent like a muscle that needs to constantly be exercised. So, whether he’s working on a paid gig or just making something for himself, he tries to create something every single day. Finding the balance between paid gigs and a personal gig is one thing. Finding the balance between creating and time for himself is an entirely separate subject. Such is the life of a freelance artist; it’s all about balance.

Justin’s Questions for the KYŌ App:

  • What can I do that’s different from what I’ve done in the past?
  • Is this something I see myself doing?
  • How can I add my stamp to it?
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