Don’t let your inner critic get the best of you.

Acceptance is an art of living.  

When we look out the window, our view of the outside is really depended on where we are standing from. Have you tried looking through a window that was too high, too low, or simply too narrow and it was challenging? Did you give up or tried another way to see through?

When we become critical of others, it is really an alert to ourselves that we are reacting to something within ourselves.  The person, situation(s), or thing in the outside world triggering our inner critic to uprise is an innocent bystander.  It is simply that we are not seeing clearly because the lens (windows) through our eyes are cloudy and dirty.  

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A funny story that my friend shared with me, which highlights that our inner critic can sometimes get the best of us.

A woman looks outside her window and complains at the neighbor’s dirty clothes. She is outrage and tells her husband that she feels that she needs to tell the neighbor off, and tell her neighbor how to wash the clothes, and how her washing is way better.  Her husband sits there and listens to his wife.  The next day, the woman looks at the window and said with surprise that her neighbor clothes are finally clean and she smiles with gladness.  

She said to her husband, “look outside the window, you can see that her clothes are so clean!”

Her husband said “Yes, I know.”

“How do you know?” said the wife.

Her husband said, “OH this morning, I cleaned our windows.”

The moral of the story:

When we point our finger out to someone or something, remember, there are three fingers (and a thumb) pointing back at you.  We must also clean our windows, so we can view the outside world with clear visions. This way, our “stuff” would not cloud our judgment. When we are highly critical of others, we are really reflecting our weakness and criticism.  As the saying goes, “It takes one to know one.”  

If we learn to love all of us, accept all of us – the good, bad, and the ugly – as a whole, we would more willing to sprinkle some grace on others as they have undone to us.  

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3 Ways to Keep the Weight Off for the Holiday Feasts

The months of November and December is packed with holidays to celebrate with families, friends, and food (yummy food). During these holidays, the waistline of many also expands (expectedly, and unexpectedly by how much). However, there are ways to reduce the ‘damages’, and still enjoy the holidays.

How do you prepare yourself (and your waistline) for the holidays? It’s all about perspective. Don’t look at the food as filling up your body; instead, use the food to fulfill your other senses.  
The core stems from mindfulness in three dimensions of health: physical, emotional, and social well-being.

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1. Physical Mindfulness. The jury is still out whether calorie counting really works, or the Paleo diet, or the plant-based diet … etc. Regardless of the type of dieting planning you are on, the best ‘diet’ is a non-diet plan, right?  What if you can continue your eating plan, but add a dimension of physical fitness now (in preparation of the holiday feasts), in incremental installment. This act will prepare the body to burn the extra calorie and increase your metabolism rate. When preparing your coffee, can you squeeze in jumping jack for 5 minutes, a few push-up, or Abs crunches.  Or before you get into the shower, do a 5 minutes yoga stretch in bed. As the turkey is baking in the oven, can you make it a game with your family to see how many squats you can do before the timer goes off?
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2. Emotional Mindfulness. When you are eating, do you notice the sounds and the texture of the food as you chew. Often time, the taste of the food overpowers our senses, and because of the ‘additive’ ingredients in the food, we ignore the ‘full’ signal in our stomach.  By enjoying the ‘sounds’ and ‘texture’ of the food, you will become mindful in your action. Naturally, your attention to the other sense (beside taste) will become ‘full’, and you will automatically want to eat less.  Your mind is connected to your stomach.  Try it, it works ! When the holiday feasts start, you won’t be tempted to pack your plate with food, instead, you will be focused on enjoying the ‘music of your food’.

3. Social Mindfulness.
 I agree, the food during the holidays are sometimes extra special and extra delicious. Instead of packing on the calorie at the dinner plate, use the time to enjoy the conversations among families and friends. When you are busy socializing and listening to you other’s life stories, you mind and heart will become ‘full’, before your stomach notices.  You’re be too busy filing your mind and heart with good ‘soul food’ to notice that you didn’t get the second plate of turkey meat !

Use these 3 ways to become ‘full’ beyond your tummy’s desires: physical, emotional, and social mindfulness through the holidays will keep your waist line in check.  

The Era of Resilience: Are You An Adaptive Leader?

Today is Veteran’s Day, which is often overshadowed by the commercial departmental veteran’s special clearance/Big Deals/Early Bird Black Fridays Sales, or the extra day-off of work; but today, I reflected on my time when I was working for the Massachusetts Veterans Affairs (VA) Department, where I ran studies on evaluating HIV testing and Hepatitis C treatment programs for veterans. I am reminded of the resilience in our veterans and personnel who are currently serving the country domestically and abroad. In the face of constant changes in the landscape, players, and rules in the game, I am in awe in how people can work, live, and evolve during these adaptive challenges in all fields of life.

In the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) in Leadership program, we teach students on the topics of systems thinking, systematic reflection, and adaptive leadership to create collective impact for population health. Because it is an online program, I teach students from all over the world, while being in my office located in Chicago, Illinois. Our students are working in various settings, and they are often faced with challenging situations to make a change in their organizations.

Becoming an adaptive leader is the key to creating a culture of health and well-being.

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Let’s take a look at one of the biggest epidemic: obesity. Unexpected interruptions to a daily routine to get fit, eat right can derail their mental landscape for getting healthy unless an individual can learn to expect change and adapt accordingly. Creating space and tools to understand the barriers and challenges to achieve overall wellness is one step toward bringing individual awareness for adaptation and global change. With awareness, individuals can learn to adapt to the change for better wellness, and then be empowered to lead their way to a personal self-care model. Through individual’s systematic reflection and understanding of the ‘whole systems,’ we can promote collective action, wherein individuals motivate each other in their shared pursuit of health, can help people live life with optimal wellness as personal leadership in the era of resilience.

For today, let’s give thanks to our veterans for being adaptive leaders in their way.

In the Palm of Your Hand, a Strategic RoadMap for Career Success.

The holidays are just around the corner and time for work, family, and self is of the essence. But how do you squeeze in the extra things to do (fun things) along with the ‘have to do’ on your list.  To my students, I share my five ‘S’ system to manage their time effectively, efficiently, and mindfully.

The five “S” to strategic planning can be applied for project management, goal setting for personal and professional, and for time management for new ideas.

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  1. Space
  2. System
  3. Schedule
  4. Support
  5. Self-Evaluation

1. Space refers to the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social space that you need to create, block off, and keep tight boundary.  Claim a physical space that is your for your study, for your meditation, and for your family/friends. A emotional and intellectual space is needed for yourself to grow independently.  A social space is where you can connect with others. When you have different spaces allotted for different purposes, it allows you to feel less guilty about declaring your personal space for clarity because you know you have space for the other things and people in your life.

2. System refers to finding a system that work for you based on your characteristics. Are you a morning person – then working out at the gym, doing your best writing, and/or working on the garden is your system. Or if your energy level is at its highest peak in the afternoon, reserve that precious time for your creativity muscle.  Find mentors to examine their system. For example, if you’re a writer, read a biography of your favorite author and analyze their writing process. Would it work for you? Modify the parts that makes sense to you.

3. Schedule refers to blocking out chunk of time to focus and drive through the resistance to focus. Minimize factors that get you to lag, delay, or be distracted.  A recommended schedule of time is to block 25 minutes to work, and then a 5 minute for a break, and the recycle the process again. Don’t forget to schedule time for fun, exercise, and meditation. Don’t think of these are ‘time-waster’. When you are unhealthy, unfit, and tired, you are wasting more time to regroup your mind and body to get things done effectively.  Schedule at least 7 hours of sleep, planned meals, and drink water throughout the day.

4. Support refers to your immediate cheerleaders to get your through the distraction toward your plan (i.e. your term paper, your project, or book).  For school, your study group may not be the same group of folks who you are skiing with. For writing your book, you may want to join a meet-up group in your local neighborhood who will hold your bottom to your seat and fingers glued to the keyboard to get you through the writing process.

5. Self-Evaluation refers to a periodic check-in with yourself. Reflect on your baseline, your timeline, your system, schedule, support, and space. Did you achieve what you wanted? What were the successful factors? Were there any barriers? If so, why?  When you are trying something new, give yourself time to learn and evolve with these tactics. Do a weekly check-in (i.e. Sunday night for an hour), or a monthly check-in (i.e. the 1st of every month).

Having the five “S” in my strategic roadmap allows me to lay out the time, space, and effort needed in achieving my goal. With this map, I can anticipate whether I have the time to say ‘yes’ to things to do (the have to and the fun things to do) or to say ‘no’ because according to my five “S”, I have neither the space, system, schedule, support, nor self-evaluation tool to assess it.

Don’t forget to enjoy the journey, the road bumps, and to roll down the window to enjoy the view toward your success.