Behavior Is Contagious – Especially With Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia face many obstacles.

We live with fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain and other symptoms. We work to find ways to manage this syndrome. We seek coping mechanisms. Many fibro patients have overlook the importance of who and what we surround ourselves with.

  • This can have a dramatic affect on how we cope.

Conserving energy is an important part to coping with “Fibro Fatigue”. It takes far more energy to deal with negative people. Energy when you don’t have any left to expend.

Let’s look at who we surround ourselves with and the effects on our lives.

People You Should Remove from Your Life

  1. You have to cut the “downers” the negative people
  2. You have to cut out the “distractors”
  3. You have to get rid of “people who play the victim”
  4. You have to stay away from “know-it-alls”
  5. You have to dump the “drama queens/kings”

Neuroscience 101
Good and Bad Behavior Is Contagious

One study found that emotions circulate through interpersonal relationships just like the flu virus.

These patterns can actually be tracked statistically just like the flu virus.

  • Each positive person you surround yourself with increases your chances of being positive by eleven percent.
  • Each negative person you let into your life more than doubles your chances of being negative.

Understanding Why This Happens

A mirror neuron is a cell in your brain that fires both when you act and when you observe another person acting.  Interacting with other people engages your mirror neuron system. 

This brain mechanism causes you to copy other people whether you want to or not. If you spend enough time with anyone, no matter who it is, you will start to mimic their behavior.

This means you need to start cutting negative people out of your life right now.

Here is a short 2 minute video
explaining mirror neurons

Here are five types of people
to start avoiding now!

# 1 The “Downer”

Some people can walk into a room and light it up. Other people walk into a room and kill it.

  • Downers Are Those That Kill Positive Energy

They are those people who seem to have a dark cloud following them wherever they go. These people are unlucky, negative and always depressed.

Don’t feel bad for these people. Odds are:

They like being miserable
WHY?
They like the attention it gives them

You must drop unhappy people from your life. Why?

Because your happiness and your physical health depends on it. Research shows that being exposed to negative people pulls away neurons in your hippocampus. This is the part of your brain that is responsible for problem solving. This means that negative people literally rot your brain

Stop hanging out with people who suck away your energy

#2 Avoid Distracting People

Distractors come in a variety of flavors

  • There are those annoying people who drive you nuts.
  • People who make you focus on them instead of focusing on yourself and your mission.

Distractors are also those people that are truly amazing or really hot or incredibly brilliant.]

  • Those people who catch your eye for one reason or another.
  • Distractors make you forget about your goals and everything that you’ve set out to do in life.

A lot of promising futures
have been sacrificed to these distractors.

Some people drop out of school or quit a job they love, just to be closer to a distracting person. This allows them stay in that distracting relationship.

Others get hooked on celebrity gossip or get rich quick schemes

  • Everything that glitters is not always gold.
  • Most shiny things are just distractions and this can include people.

Don’t let any person make you forget that you are amazing – and that you have something amazing to offer the world.

#3 Stay Away from People Who Play the Victim

Don’t know how to identify a victim?

Here’s what you look for:

  • Look for people who preach self-sacrifice
  • Look for people who try to make you feel guilty for your strengths
  • Look for people who try to make you feel guilty for your accomplishments
  • Look for people who try to make you feel bad just because they are feeling bad

Victims are:

  • Masters of positioning themselves on the moral high ground
  • Using obligation to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do.
  • People who like to make you feel responsible for their happiness.

No one is responsible for someone else’s happiness

#4 Stay away from know-it-alls

Know-it-alls are those people who will never let you live down past mistakes. They bring you down by using  the psychological phenomenons of “Imposter Syndrome” and “Negativity Bias.”

Imposter Syndrome is describe as the inability to internalize your own accomplishments. It’s that voice in your head that creeps up every now and then telling you that you’re a phony and it’s only a matter of time until people find out.

Negativity Bias on the other hand refers to your brains preference for negative information over positive information.

  • Never allow anyone to make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t let some” Know-it-All” use these techniques against you.
  • Focus on where you are now. Not on your past mistakes.

#5 Refuse to be around drama queens.

Drama queens/kings are those people who love conflict. They are addicted to drama and to winning arguments no matter the cost. Even if there’s nothing to be won. Drama queens love drama for the sake of drama.

  • They don’t want to win or find a solution they just want the drama.
  • Their minds are simple and their lives are boring.
  • The only way they can fill a sense of purpose in life is by creating drama.
  • Don’t let these people suck you into their drama.

Any time you spend trying to correct or even understand a drama queen is a waste of time. You are better off ignoring these people period.

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So Much To Understand, To Think About, To React To…

We try to speed up to match the pace of the action around us.

We stay up until 3 am trying to answer all our emails. We Twitter, we Facebook, and we’re LinkedIn. We scan news websites wanting to make sure we stay up to date on the latest updates. We salivate each time we hear the beep or vibration of a new text message.

That’s a mistake.

The speed with which information hurdles towards us is unavoidable. But trying to catch it all is counterproductive. The faster the waves come, the more deliberately we need to navigate. Otherwise we’ll get tossed around like so many particles of sand, scattered to oblivion. Never before has it been so important to be grounded and intentional and to know what’s important.

Never before has it been so important to say “No.”

  • No, I’m not going to read that article
  • No, I’m not going to read that email
  • No, I’m not going to take that phone call
  • No, I’m not going to sit through that meeting.

It’s hard to do because
maybe that next piece of information

will be the key to our success.

Our success actually hinges on the opposite, on our willingness to risk missing some information. Because trying to focus on it all is a risk in itself. We’ll exhaust ourselves. We’ll get confused, nervous, and irritable.

A study of car accidents by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute put cameras in cars to see what happens right before an accident. They found that in 80% of crashes the driver was distracted during the three seconds preceding the incident. In other words, they lost focus — dialed their cell phones, changed the station on the radio, took a bite of a sandwich, maybe checked a text — and didn’t notice that something changed in the world around them. Then they crashed.

The world is changing fast and if we don’t stay focused on the road ahead, resisting the distractions that, while tempting, are, well, distracting, then we increase the chances of a crash.

Now is the time to pause, prioritize, and focus. Make two lists:

List 1: Your Focus List (the road ahead)

What are you trying to achieve? What makes you happy? What’s important to you? Design your time around those things. Because time is your one limited resource and no matter how hard you try you can’t work 25/8.

List 2: Your Ignore List (the distractions)

To succeed in using your time wisely, you have to ask the equally important but often avoided complementary questions: what are you willing not to achieve? What doesn’t make you happy? What’s not important to you? What gets in the way?

Some people already have the first list. Very few have the second.

But given how easily we get distracted and how many distractions we have these days, the second is more important than ever. The leaders who will continue to thrive in the future know the answers to these questions and each time there’s a demand on their attention they ask whether it will further their focus or dilute it.

Which means you shouldn’t create these lists once and then put them in a drawer.

These two lists are your map for each day. Review them each morning, along with your calendar, and ask: what’s the plan for today? Where will I spend my time? How will it further my focus? How might I get distracted?

Then find the courage to follow through, make choices, and maybe disappoint a few people.

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5 Steps to Unplug Your Mind

  1. Stop. The first step to unplugging your mind is to stop everything you’re doing. This begins by stopping your body, and giving yourself permission to do nothing for at least a minute or so. You might try saying to yourself, “Just for this one minute, I don’t have to accomplish or change anything.”
  2. Let the mind wind down. Now imagine that each of your five senses is like a door that lets information into your mind. Close each of these doors and offer yourself the gift of quiet. Your mind takes in so many sights, sounds, etc., all day long. For just a minute or so, let it rest. Close your eyes, turn off anything you were listening to, stop distracting yourself in any way. Then, see if you can quiet your thoughts by telling your mind, “You can rest now. Nowhere to go, and nothing to do.”
  3. Come home. Now that you’ve stopped and quieted your senses, come home to yourself in the present moment. Pay attention to your breathing and the sensations in your body without trying to do or change anything. Say to yourself, “The present moment is my true home, and I have arrived.”
  4. Practice self-compassion. See if you can direct love and compassion toward yourself in this moment. Having let go of all busyness, try saying to yourself, “May you be well. May you be safe. May you be loved.”
  5. This is it. Finally, you recognize that everything you need to be happy is already present in this moment. You are alive, and the gift of life in infinitely precious. You can feel that your mind is completely at rest. Now you can return to whatever you were doing, and see how different it feels after having unplugged for just a little while.

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Improve the Impact of Your Email

Want to know how to get your email answered? 

Need more impact in what you do?

Want more time? 

 WHAT EMAIL HAS BECOME

Depending on your work situation, email has become much more than its original intent. Email has become:

  • Your not-in-person meeting tool.
  • Your ass-covering tool.
  • Your chat window.
  • Your filing system.
  • Your database of information.
  • Your to-do list.
  • Your private social network.

None of these are especially “wrong” uses, but what happens is that by using this technology for all these purposes, it blunts our ability to be effective and to get quality responses from others. We’ve all had that situation arise where we try to get a response from someone and we either get a lame/vague response that requires another 8 messages to get everything nailed down, or the dreaded “no reply at all.”

Here are some thoughts on improving your email response and quality rates. Your mileage may vary, plus I’d love to hear YOUR tips in the comments below.

MAKE SUBJECT LINES ACTIONABLE

One reason people don’t respond is that you don’t prompt them to do your bidding. Here are a few sample subject lines to help:

  • YES OR NO: _______
  • 2 MINUTES TO READ: __(and the subject, briefly)
  • NEED YOUR DECISION
  • DINNER PLAN PROPOSAL
  • PLEASE FORWARD SUKHJIT’S LETTER

See how in every case, the subject prompts the reader for a next action? Now run to your inbox, check your sent items, and look at YOUR titles. I’ll do it, too. Because I get behind on this, too. (Well, that backfired. Here are some of the “choice” subject lines I’ve used lately:)

“Dude.”
“Happy Birthday” <– well that’s okay.
“You call me, right?” <– winner!
“Is there a way to have ONE product page for all these offers?” <– very accurate.

MAKE THE ASK AT THE BEGINNING, NOT THE END

This is a super secret great tip. Make the MOST IMPORTANT request at the beginning of the email. Lots of people try to fill the message with backstory. If you want, here’s a format for this kind of thing:

Subject: Would You Speak at a Special Event?

Body: Hi ________ ,

I’m writing because I want you to speak at a conference on ____ 12th, 20___ in Detroit. I’m prepared to pay your speaking fee of $____, and provide you air, hotel, and ground transportation as part of the deal. If you’re interested, please reply with YES, and the contact for your event coordinator/assistant and I’ll get the project started. Backstory is below.

—-

Backstory and Details:

…blah blah blah…

See how this works?

REMINDING SOMEONE TO REPLY

There are right ways and wrong ways to remind someone to reply. Here’s the least useful/good way: Email followed by immediate text/tweet.

Just don’t do that one, unless it was otherwise asked for in some way. Okay? Our inbox throws out a big red circle with a “1″ in it for a reason.

Now, what’s different than this is when you send an email and two or three days have passed (note that I said 2 or 3 days, and not 2 or 3 hours). Then, it’s perfectly reasonable to send a brief message via another channel to confirm whether that person got the message. Around that same time, you can always re-send the message, and tack on a “I’m not trying to be pushy, but just wanted to be sure you saw this” kind of message on top of the original.

Some people will be bothered/offended. Others will be okay with this. Related to that, don’t ever bother someone more than once for the same email. If they haven’t responded after the reminder, they’re either too busy, not interested, or whatever. You can’t guess on that, but you know the answer is “not going to respond.”

HOW TO GET SOME ATTENTION

Here are some quick ways to get someone to respond to your email so that you won’t need reminders like the one above:

  • Give more than you ask. Thus, your name won’t be synonymous with “needs something from me” when it pops up in the inbox.
  • Write less-than-300 words when you send an email.
  • Be the person who brings people business. Not introductions. Deals.
  • Respond when others mail you. (This should make sense, but it’s where some people fall down – me, sometimes!)
  • Stay connected via the various social channels, as well. It’s more likely people will feel connected with you if you’re commenting on their photos, or their tweets, or whatever.

Those are some ways to get attention. We’re nearing the home stretch.

8 WAYS TO IMPROVE THE IMPACT OF YOUR EMAIL

  1. 1 subject per email. Ask only 1 question.
  2. Brevity. Short sentences. Less than 300 words.
  3. Use plain text, or the simplest possible HTML. Flashy and fancy or stationary never help.
  4. Pick unique times of day to send, instead of during work hours.
  5. Use bullets or numbers to make your emails even faster to answer.
  6. Remove the “biography” or “liner notes” from your email and just ask what needs asking.
  7. Ask all the pertinent questions in the first email, instead of stringing them out. (Conflicts with #1, I know!)
  8. Make every reply either clear in the follow-up question or definitive in the ending of the correspondence. Work towards ONLY those two responses.

Those are the ways I know. I’m curious to know what works for YOU! Answer below in the comments section?

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Everything You Need To Know About Zen Meditation

The art of Zen meditation is a simple one. You don’t need any prior experience. The meditation is the experience. You don’t need to have read any books about it. The wisdom you receive from a Zen practice is original. It comes from the quiet space in your soul.

You don’t even need to know what Zen means. It’s not mystical or rare or even necessarily spiritual. It’s the simplest and most natural thing in the world.

Zen meditation is not a religious thing. Atheists practice and benefit from it in the same way Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims do.

Zen meditation has nothing to do with where you live or where you’re from. You can be anywhere in the world and benefit from it. Peace of mind is not geographically specific.

I believe even animals practice Zen. I have seen cats, monkeys, lizards, dogs, and many other animals behaving as though they were meditating. Not just staring intently at food bowls, but genuinely looking like they were actively seeking the quiet spaces within themselves.

I urge you to give it a try. Sit comfortably in a chair. Gently close your eyes. Bring your attention to the breath moving effortlessly in and out of your body. Feel how it ebbs and flows, like water lapping at the shore of the ocean.

If other thoughts come into your mind, simply acknowledge them and bring your attention back to your breath and how your body feels. Pain, pleasure, comfort, discomfort; just feel them. Experience these sensations without judgement about whether the sensations are good or bad.

Zen allows you to be aware of how your actions affect the world around you. This allows you to be more productive. A cluttered mind is like a cluttered desk. Makes it hard to be fully productive. Meditation clears clutter from your mind. It stops that endless wheel of worrisome thoughts and allows you instead to focus on how to move forward from where you are.

After practicing Zen and mindfulness meditation for over 20 years, I can honestly say I have benefited more from meditation than from any other single thing I have ever done. Seriously.

Give zen meditation a try. The worst thing that can happen is you feel like you wasted a few minutes of otherwise productive time. The best thing that can happen is that you’ll find a simple, free, and effortless way to make your entire life better.

Did you ever wish you could just achieve that peace of mind you keep requesting?

The art of just sitting in the mind, focusing on the breath, can bring awareness and enlightenment. This is the goal in the focus of the ancient Zen Buddhist practice of Zen or Zazen Meditation.a deep meditation The Japanese word for meditation, Zen, is a state of consciousness realized through the focus of sitting in a strong posture and focusing on breath to relax the body and open the mind. Breath is very important in Zen meditation as it becomes the focal point for you to allow the thoughts and stresses in your body to release their hold with each and every breath you take.

How to Practice Zen Meditation

Begin Zen Meditation in a quiet place, free from distractions. Place a small cushion or pillow on the floor. Sitting cross-legged on your cushion, place your feet on top of the opposite thighs (left on right and right on left) – this is called Lotus Position. If you are unable to maintain this position in the beginning, that is fine. You are welcome to sit with your feet tucked under you instead. Over time you will become more flexible and be able to reach the full potential of the position.
Once you are seated place your hands in your lap or on either knee in a restful way. Now you will begin to focus on the key ingredient to Zen Meditation – breath.

Allow you breathing to flow in deeply and do not judge how ‘well’ you are doing it. Just be in the moment and focus on the inhalations and the exhalations. Naturally these breaths will become more abdominally centered and natural. As thoughts and distractions flow into your mind, just accept them and refocus your mind on your breathing. It is okay if this feels difficult – as you practice it will become easier and easier to center your mind on the breath and nothing else. The goal is to reach a heightened level of awareness without judgment.

Once you feel balanced and sure that you have received enough from your session, you may slowly take in one final breath. For some this meditation is ten minutes, for others this could be much longer. Slowly release your position and praise yourself for giving you the time necessary to become a higher self.

Zen or Zazen Meditation practiced daily can create a calm and peace in your life – creating a happier more complete you.

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10 Writing Tips from the Masters

As the world becomes increasingly digital, writing becomes more important. This is especially true for non-writers. If you work in an office, the majority of your communications are made with text by email or IM. Whether you like it or not, your ability to exchange ideas, collaborate with others, and ultimately succeed, hinges on the ability to write effectively.

Here are 10 timeless tips to help you improve style and substance, straight from the pens of humanity’s finest authors.

1. Cut the boring parts

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

Unless you’re writing for personal reasons alone, you need to consider the attention of your readers. There’s no point is publishing content that isn’t useful, interesting, or both.

2. Eliminate unnecessary words

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain

I used to feel that using words like “really”, “actually”, or “extremely” made writing more forceful. It doesn’t. They only get in the way. Cut them and never look back.

3. Write with passion

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

It’s not hard to realize that unless you’re excited about your writing no one else will be.

4. Paint a picture

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

Simply stating something is fine, but when you need to capture attention, using similes, metaphors, and vivid imagery to paint a picture creates a powerful emotional response.

5. Keep it simple

Vigorous writing is concise. ~William Strunk Jr.

Maybe it was all those late nights, struggling to fill out mandatory 10 page papers, but many people seem to think that worthwhile writing is long and drawn out. It’s more difficult (and effective) to express yourself in the simplest possible manner.

6. Do it for love

Write without pay until somebody offers to pay. ~Mark Twain

When you’re just starting out it’s hard to decide where to begin. So don’t. Just start writing. A blog is a good place to start. The most valuable benefit is the feedback.

7. Learn to thrive on criticism

You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. ~Ray Bradbury

Writing means putting yourself at the mercy of anonymous hecklers and shameless sycophants. Learn to make the most of the insults and distrust the praise.

8. Write all the time

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. ~Ray BradburyThe way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. ~John Irving

9. Write what you know … or what you want to know

If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul. ~Johann Wolfgang von GoetheLearn as much by writing as by reading. ~Lord Acton

Successful writing is all about trust and authority. It makes sense to write about your area of expertise. If you don’t have an expertise, reading and writing is the best way to develop one and put it on display.

10. Be unique and unpredictable

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. ~G.K. ChestertonConsistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ~Oscar WildeZest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto. ~Ray Bradbury

Following what works will only get you so far. Experiment with new styles, even if it means taking criticism. Without moving forward, you’ll be left behind.

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100 Ways to Cope With Stress

Get up 15 minutes earlier – Prepare for the morning the night before – Avoid tight fitting clothes  – Avoid relying on chemical aids  – Set appointments ahead – Don’t rely on your memory … write it down – Practice preventive maintenance – Make duplicate keys – Say “no” more often – Set priorities in your life – Avoid negative people – Use time wisely – Simplify meal times – Always make copies of important papers – Anticipate your needs – Repair anything that doesn’t work properly – Ask for help with the jobs you dislike – Break large tasks into bite size portions – Look at problems as challenges – Look at challenges differently – Unclutter your life – Smile – Be prepared for rain – Tickle a baby – Pet a friendly dog/cat – Don’t know all the answers – Look for a silver lining – Say something nice to someone – Teach a kid to fly a kite – Walk in the rain – Schedule play time into every day – Take a bubble bath  – Be aware of the decisions you make  – Believe in yourself  – Stop saying negative things to yourself  – Visualize yourself winning  – Develop your sense of humor – Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better today – Have goals for yourself – Dance a jig – Say “hello” to a stranger – Ask a friend for a hug – Look up at the stars – Practice breathing slowly – Learn to whistle a tune – Read a poem – Listen to a symphony – Watch a ballet – Read a story curled up in bed – Do a brand new thing – Stop a bad habit – Buy yourself a flower  – Take time to small the flowers  – Find support from others  – Ask someone to be your “vent-partner” – Do it today – Work at being cheerful and optimistic  – Put safety first  – Do everything in moderation  – Pay attention to your appearance  – Strive for Excellence NOT perfection  – Stretch your limits a little each day – Look at a work of art – Hum a jingle – Maintain your weight – Plant a tree – Feed the birds – Practice grace under pressure – Stand up and stretch – Always have a plan “B” – Learn a new doodle – Memorize a joke – Be responsible for your feelings – Learn to meet your own needs – Become a better listener – Know your   limitations and let others know them, too – Tell someone to have a good day in pig Latin – Throw a paper airplane – Exercise every day – Learn the words to a new song – Get to work early – Clean out one closet – Play patty cake with a toddler – Go on a picnic – Take a different route to work – Leave work early (with permission) – Put air freshener in your car – Watch a movie and eat popcorn – Write a note to a far away friend – Go to a ball game and scream – Cook a meal and eat it by candlelight  – Recognize the importance of unconditional love – Remember that stress is an attitude – Keep a journal – Practice a monster smile – Remember you always have options – Have a support network of people, places and things  – Quit trying to fix other people – Get enough sleep – Talk less and listen more – Freely praise other people – PS: Relax, take each day at a time…you have the rest of your life to live!

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