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Feelings of Hope Keep Us Going in the Most Challenging Times

Feelings of Hope

The emotion of hope is one very strong way to boost your positivity.  To be able to imagine a better future, whatever difficulty you're in, you're on the way.  Feelings of hope are the starting place for taking positive action. Today’s show is the 5th in the series of five short episodes that I created to focus on specific practices to grow more positivity in your life – at home, at work, and in community.

I was inspired to put these 5 shows together because it was the holiday period and we were transitioning to a new year.  Just like life in general, every season has its ups and downs. When we’re under a little stress, there is the tendency to default to some old negative patterns.  For example, we can revert to scarcity – not enough time, money,  not enough – you name the resource; and, we might focus on our deficiencies – lack of talent, lack of support, lack of love, lack of education, lack of help etc.  

Flipping from What's Lacking to What Exits

My objective is to flip the lens from scarcity and deficiencies to focus on what you have already.  The most effective way to flip the switch is to tap into your positive emotions. And when you access those positive emotions you open up to possibilities and opportunities:  your strengths surface and you become more understanding of others. Your perspective widens and relationships are so much easier.   

If you’ve been listening to the previous 4  episodes Smile, Gratitude, Kindness, and Inspiration, and, from your own knowledge and background, you know that we have a negativity bias wired into us from way back when we were hunters and gatherers. 

You’ll know that the negative emotion of fear, while it is highly useful for our safety and learning, can get in the way of experiencing life when there is, in fact, no real fear, but imagined.  Negativity creeps into your self-talk and conversations with others causing discomfort, distress, and over the long-term, negativity impacts your health, potentially causing disease.  In addition,  you can fall into the blame game and feel you have lost everything.  In your despair, you have this sense of there’s no hope – you fall into a negative state of hopelessness and even helplessness.

As the last topic in this mini-series on Boosting Positivity, I’m focussing on the positive emotion of hope.

Hope – One of Top 8 Positive Emotions

Hope is one of the 8 positive states that Professor Barbara Fredrickson has identified in her 20+ years of research into positive emotions that increase our joy and well-being.  The other 7 are gratitude, serenity interest, pride amusement, inspiration, and awe.

It is hope that boosts your positivity when things have taken a turn for the worse.

Life is both suffering and joy.  Adversity can strike in the form of illness (yours or someone close to you); loss (a loved one, a job, a dream); or natural disaster (fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and mudslides); or you can just plain lose your mojo. You spiral downward, and possibly into despair.

It is hoped that ultimately lifts you to see other possibilities exist.  You acknowledge things can change.  Hope allows you to imagine a different future.  Without hope, you are frozen into powerlessness.  Hope is a yearning for something better.

My Personal Stories of Illness, Loss and a Natural Disaster.

In the episode, I share three stories from my own private life that illustrate how the most intentional and deliberate feelings of hope kept me from giving up. 

In each of these stories, there are common threads which I suggest are strong allies of “hope.”

  • Holding a positive image of the future
  • Being in community with others
  • Believing in the goodness of humankind

Story one is my story with my own illness and surrendering to the caregivers because they supported and encouraged my vision of a healthy future.

Story two is my dealing with loss.  The loss of a dream that I held for more than 20 years about my husband's and my future. I was unbelievably saddened and despairing of a change in my destiny that was not my choosing.   Over time and by working on a new vision of the future, I'm over it.  All is forgiven and I'm again free making new and different choices. 

Story three is my personal experience of hope during a hurricane, when our lives and home were at huge risk.  I can honestly say that I had the most palpable experience of hope during 3.5 days of living in a shelter.   I worked so hard to hold only positive images of the future. 

Appreciative Inquiry's Anticipatory and Positive Principles

In the worldview Appreciative inquiry, there are guiding principles which suggest that

“positive imagery evokes positive emotions and positive emotions move us toward a choice for positive actions.”

There are many examples throughout history that demonstrate this principle of positive image, positive future:  immediately, I think of the remarkable lives of Victor Frankl, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Nelson Mandela.  These extraordinary and inspiring human beings, despite the most unjust and inhumane oppression and suffering never lost hope or gave into despair in their direst of circumstances. 

Quoting Howard Zinn:

“We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't “win,” there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope. An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time.To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.

If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however a small way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

How to Live with Greater Feeling of Hope

Where you put your attention is key.  Allow yourself to grieve or mourn your loss or pain, and then find within you the resolve to begin to shift your attention from “what’s wrong with my world?” to “what’s right with my world?”  History has shown that those people who had faith and an image of a positive future are the ones who were most able to surmount the worst possible odds.  

Where does this image of a positive future come from?  It comes from accessing the memories of the times in the past when things were going right.  You tap into your own strengths and successes from the past to help you move toward something better in the future.  To rediscover the source of your dreams that are within your heart, that is your source of hope.

Practices to Strengthen the Positive Emotion of Hope

* It starts with a belief.  A belief that whatever the hardship of the past and the present, you still have a life ahead of feelings of hope - white dog pleadingyou. A belief that you will grow from the adversity. When you believe it, you will see it.

* Make an inventory of your skills, your talents, your strengths.  

* Recall a memory of how you overcame difficulties in the past.

* If you’ve lost your dream, set some new goals and be bold to imagine a new vision or dream for yourself.

* As you get clearer about your goals and write them down, notice how they might become more real for you.

* Invest in connecting with the people and resources that inspire you.

* Hold that image – your dream of a positive future.

What are Your Stories?

I’d love for you to share your stories of hope.  You can post your stories below, and you might be inspired to record a message on the Speak Pipe app that you’ll find on the podcast home page and that link is http://positivitystrategist.com/podcast/


Link with Robyn

Find out more about my journey to positivity

On LinkedIn

On Twitter

On Facebook

On Google +

My TEDx Talk – all about positivity through playful inquiry


Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Listen on Google Play Music

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

How To Seek Out Inspiring Moments To Boost Positivity – PS 83

Episode Introduction

Today’s show is the fourth in a series of five short episodes that I’ve pulled together to help grow greater positivity in the world.  I've selected the five topics because they are about taking action.  With ongoing practice, they will help you boost your positivity.

The first three habits  – Smile, Gratitude and Kindness are very easy to identify.  The fourth positivity habit I encourage you to cultivate and I introduce in this show, is a little more subtle and abstract, but definitely a positivity booster.  It's the habit of being inspired.

Finding Inspiring Moments to Boost Positivity

I love this one, because  it allows for so many inputs that can elevate and expand your mood in ways that move you deeply.  You’ve heard me talk about downward spirals that negativity can send you off on, and then there are upward spirals of positivity that we can consciously cultivate.  Seeking out your inspiring moments is a habit worth cultivating.  You can build your own repertoire of inspiration and pull them out whenever you feel the need to feel inspired. 

Listen to the episode to find our my favorite, tried and true ways to be inspired.  They include:

  • Being outdoors in nature
  • Learning how others have overcome challenges and sorrows through listening to and sharing their stories 
  • Watching humanity perform at its best (as in the video below)
  • Noticing what kids can create with their imaginations and ingenuity

Watching humanity perform at its best is why this video of Oprah Winfrey's acceptance speech of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Golden Globe is so inspiring to me, as it was to the audience in the room and the attention that it has attracted since.

Our Personal Stories Provide Inspiring Moments for Others

One can analyze Oprah's speech and find many reasons why it's so powerful and so inspiring. One of the successful contributing factors is the power of story.  Oprah tells personal stories and weaves the stories of others into her message that connect in a raw and meaningful ways.  We feel the connective tissue that unites us. We are inspired by the stories of others. She says:

 Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.

When you feel yourself moved, it could be that you are lifted from your own self absorption or small world.   You shift to an awareness and reality that there are forces in the world that are much bigger than you, outside you; and, yes! you ARE part of them and are moved by them in a heartfelt way.

And being lifted out of your own self-absorption isn’t the only reason for seeking inspiration – even though I recommend actively seeking other inputs to shift your energy.

Being Present Sparks Unexpected and Delightful Inspiring Moments

There is spontaneous inspiration that comes from being present to what’s going on in your immediate environment.  It’s about paying attention and being mindful. There are things in your everyday conversations than can delight and inspire you.  When are you inspired momentarily you are taken to a world outside yourself, yet you feel yourself in that world.  You relate and feel moved. 

Why Inspiration is a Worthwhile Habit to Boost Positivity

Allowing yourself to be inspired is right up there as a great way to boost positivity. The inspiration can come from someone you admire because they’ve done great things in their life. You are inspired by human excellence, as with the example above.   Moreover, the person does not have to be famous.  It could be someone close to you: your mother, your grandfather, your spouse, a teacher.  

Seeing people at their very best is inspiring and uplifting.  Inspiration makes you want to do good because you are inspired by something outside yourself that touches your heart.  It takes you out of your own self centeredness.

How to Seek Out Inspiration 

inspiring moments - paddle boarding at sunsetThis state of positivity is influenced by your choices about who you hang out with and what stimuli you allow into your life. It might mean you need to stop doing the things that bring you down and depress you.  To feel inspired and enjoy the positivity boost from that, you need to actively stimulate yourself with people and events, and shows and scenes that inspire you and fill you with possibilities of life affirming goodness and vitality.  If you get depressed by watching negative news, make a choice to not watch the news.  If there are people in your life who complain and are negative and pull you down, it’s time to strategize how you can counteract their influence by finding sources of inspiration.

Practices to Grow More Sources of Inspiration

Here are some practices that might help you seek out more inspirations in you life and, as a result, boost your positivity:

  • Make a list of people and things you find inspiring, and seek more of their inputs.  If they're media personalities, or famous in other ways, it’s easy today access their inspiring work on the internet, or download songs or books, or photos or movies. If they are authors, read more of their works;  if entrepreneurs or teachers,  learn more about their work and apply it to yours.
  • When you come across something inspiring, make a note of it. You might begin to create a collection of references or quotes that you can refer to and share with others. 
  • Be open to inspiration, and savor those moments, and feel the surge of warm positivity flowing through your body.
  • When inspired, notice how you are touched and how your heart opens.
  • Deeply consider what can you cultivate from your own strengths and talents that will inspire others.
  • Set a goal to inspire others which is a great way to find the sources that will inspire you.

Inspire Others

The opportunity to host and create this podcast has offered me many conversations with inspiring individuals, whose mission and purpose in life I find uplift me.  I find the stories of people overcoming adversity and hardship and illness hugely inspiring.  People who’ve tried new things and contributed in ways that serve others inspire me to continue to be the best I can be.

I want to be a source of inspiration to others through my personal stories, my work – including this podcast – and I get that feedback, for which I am hugely grateful.  Increasing I feel humbled and uplifted knowing that we are strengthening our community.  

Sharing stories helps us experience our common humanity.  We learn from others.   When inquire into their stories and listen, we find sources of connection that breathe life into us – inspire – us to think differently, act more courageously, listen more compassionately and embrace the fullness of life – the sorrows and the joys. 


Link with Robyn

Find out more about my journey to positivity

On LinkedIn

On Twitter

On Facebook

On Google +

My TEDx Talk – all about positivity through playful inquiry


Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Listen on Google Play Music

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

Acts of Kindness are Micro Moments of Connection

Introduction

This show,  Acts of Kindness are Micro Moments of Connection  is the third in a series of five short episodes that I’ve pulled together to help grow greater positivity in the world.  The topics covered in these short episodes are well known to you and I think you’d agree we all benefit from these little reminders from time to time.

As you read and listen, I wonder what  provokes you to feel alive and engaged and connected with your world.  It's all so individual and yet, there are universalities that are embedded in positive emotions.  We just experience them differently, dependent on who we are and the situation in which we find ourselves   My mission and the intention of this podcast is to spread what works.  I strive to inspire you to try out practices that my experiences suggest can support you as and when you need them.

Micro Moments of Connection

micro moments of connection - Robyn with red tulipsI share a personal story of micro moments of connection that came out of an act of kindness that left me pondering who in fact performed the actual kind deed.

It turns out, in my view, we both did. One act of kindness begat another act of kindness.  In our very brief encounter, we co-created meaning that to this day warms my heart every time I think about it, tell the story or see red tulips!

It's a story that boosts my positivity every time.

The story is about 2 cents, and a bunch of tulips, and two strangers feeling connected on a special day.

Why Kindness as a Positivity Booster?

When you show kindness to others, it’s almost guaranteed that you will feel good, and that boosts your positivity, as my story illustrates.

In our closest relationships we sometimes forget to show kindnesses – it’s that “familiarity breeds contempt” syndrome.  

Self-kindness

I’d include in that “familiarity breeds contempt” category you, yourself.  

It is so important to cultivate self-kindness.  I’m guilty of being very tough on myself.  I am getting better at not doing it, because I’ve learned that when I am down on myself, I am of absolutely no value or service to others either.  I’m stuck in a funk and  just wallowing in the ruminations of negativity and self pity or self-criticism   

Self-kindness, self-compassion, self-love is a prerequisite to being kind, compassionate and loving to others.

Count Your Kindnesses

How might you boost your kindnesses?

You’ve heard of “count your blessings?” How about “count your kindnesses?”  

When you show kindness through a genuine smile, through an authentic compliment, through a caring gesture, your positive emotions expand.  You feel yourself more connected to another. You connect with others with your kindnesses.  If you can build those micro-moments of connection every day, your positivity will strengthen.   

Five Practices to Generate those Micro Moments of Connection

Start with those closest to you.  List the positive qualities of people you deal with on a regular basis, and compliment them.  Let them know what you appreciate about them.

  • Notice the words and actions of others; and when you notice something they did that was kind, caring, or considerate let them know that.  
  • You might show some interest in a colleague’s situation and just by your interest and listening, you are showing a kindness.  
  • You might offer to take on some chores or tasks to help out a family member, friend or colleague who’s a bit stressed out.  
  • And don’t forget yourself, self-compassion is a key factor in kindness.

Through the coming weeks pay attention to all the kindnesses you give, notice what happens. And also pay attention to the kindnesses your receive and notice what happens.


Link with Robyn

Find out more about my journey to positivity

On LinkedIn

On Twitter

On Facebook

On Google +

My TEDx Talk – all about positivity through playful inquiry


Blog Posts

Barbara Fredrickson, Micro Moments of Love

Michael Edwards, “Love 2:0” A conversation with Barbara Fredrickson

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, How Positive Language will Improve your Life


Books


Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Listen on Google Play Music

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

Strengthening Gratitude Brings an Abundance of Benefits – PS 81

Introduction

Today’s show is the second in my new series focussing on boosting Positivity.  I introduced this new effort last week.  In a nutshell I’ve created 5 short episodes which will be aired weekly with the specific focus on deepening positivity.  My hope is that  you’ll find these short episodes great reminders of what is to be appreciated in life.  What provokes you to feel alive and engaged and connected with your world.  I’m not sharing anything ground-breaking or new.  I offer what you know already:  simple day to day actions  that with practice become habits; and the more you practice, the more you will become competent and these positive practices will be more deeply integrated into your being.  

The goal is that you’ll build your ability to increase positive feelings in your immediate situation. All you have to do is try them out and trust yourself to experience something so easy and natural that can change your life.

Strengthening Gratitude

The habit I invite you to focus on in this episode is strengthening gratitude.

I use also the word gratefulness along side gratitude.  I was inspired after listening to my favorite podcast On Being with Krista Tippet.   The Benedictine monk,  Bros David Steindl-Rast was a guest. Gratefulness/ gratitude has been a major focus of  his  life’s work.   His 2013 TED talk, on the subject has had over 6 million view.  He stands with other spiritual teachers, and scientists that provide evidence that gratitude is  a key to human well-being and flourishing.

Quoting from the website Gratefulness.org:

“Grateful living is a way of life which asks us to notice all that is already present and abundant – from the tiniest things of beauty to the grandest of our blessings – and in so doing, to take nothing for granted. We can learn to focus our attention on, and acknowledge, that life is a gift.”

Why gratitude as one of the positive emotions to strengthen?

Showing gratefulness is right up there when it comes to boosting your positivity, because when you experience gratefulness from the heart, it comes out of genuine appreciation.  You feel you have been given a gift or recognition of some kind.  And you respond with gratefulness.

I share the story of a phone conversation with a dear friend.  During the call she said some wonderful things about my work, which brought out deep gratitude in me.  In that feeling of gratefulness, I was deeply touched and felt so appreciated and heard.  I felt I had been given a gift and recognition. It’s not that such acknowledgement was needed or asked for, but it came from my friend who  cared to say such kinds things to me from her heart. She didn’t have to say such profoundly kind things, and  I know how she means it.

And the gratitude was reciprocated.  After she had shared with me that she has just finished writin a book, with Cathy, I was delighted and commented that from my experience of her she was right on topic with her book, and all that she was doing was so authentically her.  She expressed her gratitude for the recognition that came from my heart.  

strengthening gratitude - fruits at market

We also reflected on a number of  challenges and pains we had individually experienced throughout the year, yet with hindsight, we saw the gift in those challenges and expressed our gratitude for the lessons and the growth.

In those shared moments, the gratefulness is like a warm wash of feelings akin to a quiet joy that comes from feeling valued by another – and that could be just being heard, or acknowledged in some way.  It could be “she gets me.””

My story is just one example of experienceing gratitude.  This kind is about feeling connected to someone or something beyond yourself that prompted you to feel the gratitude.

And, of course gratitude is also about you alone and what you give gratitude for in your daily life.

How might we show our gratitude?

  • A great start is to just reflect on the small stuff.  What are you grateful for?  Stop to smell the roses, as they say.  I know I am grateful for a good night’s sleep.  I am grateful for my morning walks.  I am grateful for my first cup of tea.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t take those things for granted.  
  • I’ve had hard things happen in my life.  I was ill with stage 4 cancer.  I experienced a painful divorce.  I’ve had up and downs, like all of you.  It isn’t a prerequisite that you have to have had a whole bunch of adverse events in your life to make you grateful.  
  • People who lose their homes through floods or fires or hurricanes, express gratitude for their lives. You might express gratitude if you haven’t had any real disasters in your life up to this point.  

What’s the practice?

  •  Start to notice the small things that you value and appreciate in life.  
  • It’s almost like the sweet, little things that also put a smile on your face.
  • A great practice many people adopt is to start a gratitude journal.  You write down the things you are grateful for on a day to day basis.  One way is overnight before you sleep, you reflect back over your day and jot down the things you are grateful for that day.  
  • The more you start to notice and record, the more you’ll find.  
  • Develop the practice to strengthen the state of gratitude. A favorite saying is “What you focus on grows.”  
  • When you focus on what you’re grateful for, you’ll notice how much there really is to be grateful for.

Thrugh the coming week, hone your focus on the words on gratefulness.org to

take nothing for granted. You can learn to focus your attention on, and acknowledge, that life is a gift.”

Link with Robyn

Find out more about my journey to positivity

On LinkedIn

On Twitter

On Facebook

On Google +

My TEDx Talk – all about positivity through playful inquiry

My Book


Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Listen on Google Play Music

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

A Genuine Smile Will Help Strengthen Positivity In Your Life

Episode Introduction

I am proud to say that this episode is my 80th show! Listen in to hear a very brief overview of how I started and what changes have happened from time to time.  With this episode I offer another change: the first of 5 solo shows where I focus on how to strengthen positivity.  After all the show is called Positivity Strategist.

It's the season where one year is ending and a new one is beginning, which is a nice opportunity to reflect, and reassess and make changes.  I chose to focus on how we can strengthen positivity as the holiday/ new year period can add pressures to our lives, both stressful and joyful.

Of course, these positivity boosters are relevant all year. It just happens to be timely right right now. In addition, for the last six months, I’ve been focused on building online training courses around positive change which is my thing – personally and professionally – even though for me I can’t separate the two.  My personal and professional life is intertwined.

Strengthen Positivity with Positivity Boosters

Over the next five episodes, I’m offering you ways to build your positivity muscle. You’ll learn to be more positive even if your life is in chaos. You’ll be able to apply these valuable practices whenever you feel the need to lift your spirits and your energy.

I’ll introduce a habit each week for you to practive, I’ll tell you why it helps; how to do it and then make some recommendations about how to strengthen the habit.

The goal is that you’ll build your ability to increase positive feelings in your immediate situation. All you have to do is try them out and trust yourself to experience something so easy and natural that can change your life.

Positivity Booster: Smile

Why does this strengthen positivity?

When you smile with a genuine, heartfelt, sincere, authentic smile, it is very different from a hurried stretch of the lips à la “smiley face – have a nice day” kind of smile).

The heartfelt smile is when the corners of your lips expand and turn up, the skin around your eyes gets crinkly, your face softens, and tension lessens throughout your body. The deal maker: your smile needs to be sincere to allow positive emotions to curse through your body and release any stress. You will know when you're faking it – there's no benefit!

strengthen positivity - Robyn and Neo

How does this strengthen positivity?

You know the mechanics of how to smile, (described above). Consider now what will cause you to smile with sincerity and open your heart. For me, it’s looking at, touching, thinking about my adorable pet cat, Neo.

What might it be for you? What beautiful memories do you have of a connection with someone or something that will cause your face to soften, cause you to raise the corners of your lips and the tiny muscles that circle your eyes to contract and have a surge of warmth washes over you that gives you a glow ?

Recommended practices to strengthen positivity by with a heartfelt smile

Make it a practice to smile at least 3 times each day. Prompts could be:

  • recall an experience from memory that will makes you smile in that authentic way and open your heart
  • notice the smile of someone else that makes you smile in a heartfelt way
  • smile sincerely so you cause someone to smile back at you (at home, at work, on your commute, working out)
  • what else might work for you?

Try it at least 3 times today, more if you can, and

make it from the heart!

Link with Robyn

Find out more about my journey to positivity

On LinkedIn

On Twitter

On Facebook

On Google +

My TEDx Talk – all about positivity through playful inquiry

My Book


Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Listen on Google Play Music

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

The Yoga of True Wealth is No Big Kept Secret – PS 78

Episode Introduction

My guest is Francis Bitterly.  Fran leads a wealth management team as a Managing Director, Wealth Advisor, Sr. Portfolio Management Director, and Certified Financial Planner®.  He is in based in Red Bank, New Jersey.  He has been recognized five times by Barron’s Magazine as one of the nation’s top financial advisors.

In this show you hear Fran speak with great passion about his spiritual practice.  It's also the subject of his book The Yoga of True Wealth:  Wisdom from a Heart of Wall Street (2017) Koehler Books.

yoga of true wealth - author Fran BitterlyEpisode Background

For the past 32 years while Fran has been growing his financial practice helping his clients make wise and informed decisions about their money, enabling them to achieve what is most important to them, he has been deepening his own true wealth and growing what is important to him.

The yoga of true wealth is an inner journey, contrasting with all the external trappings of success.  It’s a knowing that sets us free to live with full awareness and make choices that connect with our true being so we can be at one with love and peace and each other.

The Yoga of True Wealth

One of the things I value about Fran's book, The Yoga of True Wealth is its smorgasbord of spiritual teachings that come from diverse wisdom and spiritual traditions.  While the quotes and teachings come from different traditions, they are united in their message.  Humanity all over the world and throughout all ages are faced with both suffering and joy.  Most of us experience at some point in our lives a yearning, an emptiness, a gap that wants to be filled.  We yearn for peace and love  – and when we awaken to that truth, we find the way to the yoga of true wealth.

Growth comes from Struggle

Fran shares some of his personal story on the show and goes into greater detail more deeply in his book. His personal sorrows and struggles began before the age of 4 when his mother died.  As a teenager, he found his taste for alcohol addictive.  During those teenage years, he describes the agony of not being true to himself as the dark night of the soul.  He knew his behaviors were not who he really was at that time.

Out of those struggles, he became a deep seeker.  At a young age, he developed a conscious awareness that he was able to access much later in life when he most needed it. The lessons from his mother when she was in great pain and dying offered a love that remains constant through his life.  She lived from the heart.  Without his knowing at the time, she taught him deep metaphysical truths that he has come to appreciate as he learned his lessons in life and deepened his experience with Spirit.

Spiritual Awakening

The beginning of Fran’s spiritual journey came from his childhood faith, Christianity and his mother’s influence and her strong faith.  Today, he describes himself as a mystical Christian – a lover of Jesus and open to many truths.  

Even with his strong Christian faith, Fran remained a seeker.  He began to read and learn about the wisdom traditions and other spiritual faiths from many teachers, alive and dead.  He deepened his understandings and appreciations for Buddhism and the many branches of Hinduism, for Sufism and he read the literature of  philosophers and poets through the ages.

Positivity Practices to Find the Yoga of True Wealth

The Yoga of True Wealth - book If the spiritual quest is to find unity – yoga – be at one with God and at peace with oneself and others, it’s a journey that takes effort to move out of your mind into your heart.  You move from ego consciousness and its associated chatter of the mind to the stillness of the heart.  It is an inner journey, that liberates you from all the outer trappings of success.  

Fran outlines seven practices help people take that inner journey, and I suggest they are akin to positivity strategies. Fran agrees that all the practices are about building momentum for goodness that comes from living with virtues to help overcome and eradicate vices.  Each of these practices take years of work, and the benefits are cumulative. To learn more about each one, listen to Fran’s explanations.

The 7 Practices to Deepen the Spiritual Journey

Yoga of true wealth 7 practices

Bringing the Yoga of True Wealth to Financial Clients

Fran talks about how he lives out his faith in his relationship with his clients.  He remains at the top of his game – which is imparting the best advice (wisdom) to his clients.  He advises his clients in accordance with his highest values of care and empathy.  He knows that that positivity is the way to bring people to higher experiences, yet we get caught up in the negative and attached to our own stories that magnify the less important matters in the bigger scheme of life. 

What matters to Fran is being with love and peace.   His book is a means to share his faith and associated wisdom. 

Stay Connected with Fran

Fran's website: Yoga of True Wealth


Books and Links to Resources


Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

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Personal Reflections on Appreciative Voice – PS 72

Episode Introduction

This show is a little different from my usual format because I’m flying solo, except for a special guest, Mary Jane Dieter who shares a story illustrating a challenging exchange with a neighbor that resulted in good outcomes because of how she chose to speak with him. It’s a story that illustrates appreciative voice.

In this episode, I focus on how we can grow and strengthen our appreciative voice through the principles and practices of Appreciative Inquiry and what it can do for us individually and collectively.

Episode Background

To learn more about the inspiration for this show, please check out my blog What is Appreciative Voice in Your World?  

I participated in the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Homecoming at the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College in Burlington Vt.  We were around 40 – 50 people mainly from US and Canada.  Most of us were familiar with AI

We gathered in response to the following invitation.

Invitation to the AI Homecoming

AI was made for these turbulent times.  This year our theme is one that can’t be ignored: voicing the appreciative–in conversation, in media, in public forums, in organizational life, in community. How do we create space and opportunity for conversations across divides, across borders, across values and visions that can help create the world we want to live in? How do we contribute? How do we create space and opportunity to co-create with others?

Inquiry into Appreciative voice

The first question put to us was:

What voices are coming through?

This question had us go deep very quickly.  

We reflected that it’s easy to block out messages coming through channels we don’t want to hear because our technologies allow us to. This enables us to live in echo chambers or bubbles,  meaning we stay with what we know and close ourselves off from hearing the perspectives of others who are not like us.

Living in the bubble limits us from exercising our appreciative voice.

When we come from inquiry we open up to listen to others  and when we live in inquiry we are less likely to jump to judgment.  You’ll hear that Mary Jane Dieter’s story is a great example of being true to her voice and at the same time curious and open to a different voice.

Four Compelling Questions

  1. When has your voice made a positive difference?
  2. When has your voice as part of a group made a positive difference?
  3. Recall a movement that made a positive difference in the world?
  4. When has an individual voice made a positive difference in the world in business/technology/education/ or any domain?

These questions focused our inquiry and they are typical of an appreciative inquiry.  As you listen to this show, you’ll find out how these appreciatively framed questions work in bringing out the best in us.  AI is one of the fastest and most enduring way that I know results in high quality human connection.  

Asking Appreciative Questions is Easy

We can all do this.  It is not hard to learn how to ask questions that focus on what works in a situation.  Many things go wrong, there is evil, there is hardship, there are natural disasters, and entangled in the chaos there are things that also offer redemption.  

Bob Marley’s lyrics in his Redemption Song say it all.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds

 

Appreciative Inquiry Guiding Principles

Appreciative Inquiry Principles offer us a framework to practice our appreciative voice so we can bring more of it to the world.  The guiding principles that help us connect with others in ways that serve not only ourselves but others, too.  

Constructionist Principle: Words create worlds

Appreciative Voice sunflowers - communication skills trainingPrinciple of Simultaneity: The very first question starts the change

Poetic Principle: What we focus on grows

Anticipatory Principle: Image inspires action

Positive Principle: Positive affect leads to positive action

Wholeness Principle: We are in this together

Narrative: Stories transform us

Enactment: Embody what we want

Readings

“The self is a style of being, continually expanding in a vital process of definition, affirmation, revision, and growth, a process that is the image, we may say, of the life process of a healthy society itself.”  

Robert Penn Warren

Self-love is the foundation of a sane society, our responsibility to ourselves — and to our selves — is really a responsibility to one another: to know our interiority intimately and hold our darkest sides up to the light of awareness. But part of our human folly is that we do this far less readily than we shine the scorching beam of blameful attention on the darknesses of other.  

Maria Popova referencing Erich Fromm

The full article by Mari Popova of Brainpickings is The Terror Within and the Evil Without: James Baldwin on Our Capacity for Transformation as Individuals and Nations  

One workshop can be transformative. One single positive experience, when we discover a latent talent or potential strength or experience a gesture of caring, can be transformative. In fact, the very first question asked, and the way it is asked, begins the change process. When we open ourselves to our best selves, envision possibilities, and get in touch with our strengths, a paradigmatic, seismic, quantum shift can happen in the blink of an eye.

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions. 

Books

 Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Listen to Stitcher

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If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

How to Stimulate Connection with Curiosity and Appreciation

International Podcast Day

Valuing Curiosity and Appreciation was the title of my session during the 30 hour live-streaming event on International Podcast Day 2016.   Seventy two podcasters from sixteen countries were represented over the 30+ hour live video event.  

I was deeply honored to be invited by two amazingly generous and committed individuals, David Lee and Steve Lee of International Podcast Day .  In the video below you will hear how I was lucky enough to be invited.  I put it down to serendipity – being in the right place at the right time – and that place was Twitter.  I don't hang out every day on Twitter, but this day I did and when the opportunity was presented, I seized it.   It was so much fun for me.  I hope my message will impact my podcaster colleagues and their audiences way into the future.

An Affirmative Question Shifts Energy and a Curious State Invites Appreciative Inquiry

In the video, you'll learn more about Positivity Strategist Podcast. The show is an interview format where I talk with people who are positive change agents in all areas of life.   Its purpose to provide a platform to showcase the work of those who are innovating social change and who serve as an inspiration to all.  My hope is to  inject a good dose of optimism and possibility into our lives. It seeks to marry the ideal with the practical.

During the video, I talk about the transformational change methodology, Appreciative Inquiry that informs my approach, providing me with a framework to stimulate connection in the most generative way.  Story telling and valuing oneself and others is key to deepening connection and strengthening relationships.  It is my experience that when you come from curiosity and appreciation, you really do stimulate connection whatever the situation and, as a podcaster, I would suggest those two states are essential for building rapport and serving yourself, your guests and your audience.

Curiosity as a State

Think back to a time when you were curious; and when you remember that time, it most likely aroused in you feelings of  mystery, adventure,  novelty,  anticipation, hope, possibility.   I expect your attention was focused, and you experienced a heightened sense of  alertness and aliveness. Some of you may have to think back to childhood, as that's when living in a state of curiosity is almost the default.

How about the State of Appreciation?

Now remember a time when you experienced appreciation.  Were you the giver of appreciation because you showed appreciation to someone else; or, were you the receiver of appreciation, because someone showed appreciation to you?   How did appreciation make you feel – about yourself and about the other?  I expect both situations made you feel good because you were able to stimulate connection at a different level.  Not only did you and that other person feel good, I bet others around who observed it also felt positively impacted.  If you want to see this in action, you may enjoy my TEDx talk.  There is something magical about the reciprocal nature of the act of appreciation.

Positive Emotional States Stimulate Connection

If you're not convinced that experiencing positive emotional states do bring out the best in us, try a little curiosity and/or appreciation when you next have the opportunity to be in conversation with someone.

Recently, during a Town Hall debate, the two debaters were antagonist the entire time.   The final question:

… regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?

That question was a state changer, and for a short time, we witnessed a shift in energy, we might say it served to stimulate connection, and as an observer, I felt a positive possibility, and I suspect it impacted others in the same way.

If you believe a good dose of positivity can serve you, please subscribe to Positivity Strategist Podcast to listen in to stories of people who are positively impacting the world.  You will be inspired.

 

 

Synchronicity: An Exciting Emergent Principle in Appreciative Inquiry

Episode Introduction

Tom Myers is an entrepreneurial, Associate Professor at the Robert P. Stiller School of Business at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. He’s in the International Business and Management Faculty, teaching courses in entrepreneurship, international marketing, leadership and organizational development. Right from the get-go of this episode, you’ll find out why Tom is more than qualified to teach these subjects to students who seek to have impact in the world. He comes not only with real life, international business experience, but also from an inner knowing of the inherent interconnectedness of all matter that makes up the complexities of life.

Episode Overview – Synchronicity, an exciting emergent Appreciative Inquiry Principle

SynchronicityAt the time of our conversation, Tom was completing his doctoral research and Ph.D. on the topic of “Seeing the Connections: The Emergent Synchronicity Principle in Appreciative Inquiry.” Tom, as a scholar and practitioner of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) originally set out to research “Positive Employee Engagement” for his thesis.  

He wasn’t too far into his research before he opened up to his own family history.  As he learned about the positive workplace engagement that his own ancestors had created for their 5000 employee silk production company, he acknowledged the abundance of synchronicities that were unfolding, thereby, tugging at him to accept these synchronicities. He chose to act on them.  Seeing the connections, Tom shifted his research topic to the significance and value of synchronicity and how we make meaning and understand relationships throughout our life, while, at the same time, he was also seeing the connection with the Principles of Appreciative Inquiry.

Did You Discover Appreciative Inquiry or Did Appreciative Inquiry Discover You?

Following a Masters degree in Positive Psychology, Tom was first introduced to Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College, where he chose to complete his certification in the Positive Business and Society Change Program when Professor Lindsey Godwin joined the faculty.  He has been integrating AI into his work ever since, and, through his doctoral studies, is deepening his experience with AI in an academic and practical sense.

Constructing Your Own Life Story

Embarking on a PH.D. journey with the intention of focusing on the AI Principle of Social Construction to research the topic of Positive Employee Engagement, Tom started in a traditional way to look at what constituted employee engagement from an historical perspective.  Tom didn’t have to look very far, when he realized one of the best examples of a positively engaged workforce existed in his own family history.  Tom’s inquiry:

  • How might we look back at our personal ancestry history in order to create a source of intergenerational energy for today?
  • What might we discover if we explore our ancestry with an appreciative and generative approach?

Tom’s  ancestors were the Cheney Brothers who founded the Cheney Silk Manufacturing Company in Manchester, Connecticut which grew to be the largest producer of silk in the western hemisphere.  The Cheney brothers created a workplace culture that was ahead of some companies today and provided benefits to employees that most workers still do not receive even today.  It was deemed a workplace ‘utopia.’  

Listen in to Tom sharing his family story and read more in a moving and informative article Tom wrote for the Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner, entitled “Lessons from Ancestors: My Historical Intergenerational Appreciative Inquiry.

Meaningful Connections are Around Us All Time

Synchronicity is a concept, first explained by psychiatrist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related. (Wikipedia)

Listen in to learn more from Tom’s research through interviews and focus groups he's conducted over the course of his research. 

Appreciative Inquiry Interview Template

Tom has generously offered to share his Appreciative Interview template that he used in focus groups as part of  his research.  You might like to download and experience the questions yourself, or even better invite a small group to experience the questions.  Tom would be really grateful if you would share your findings with him.  His email is included in the template.  Open the Positivity Lens Reveal below to download the PDF.

positivity lens

POSITIVITY LENS REVEAL

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Synchronicity TemplateAppreciative Inquiry Interview Template for Synchronicity

This is such an opportunity to experience an Appreciative Inquiry set of questions and inquire into your stories of synchronicity and the stories of others, if you so chose to do.

You will be moved by what you discover about yourself and others as you inquire into your own stories of  “seeing the connections” – how synchronicity shows up in your life.  It will help you acknowledge, become aware of and act on the synchronicities, as mentioned in the post below.

 

 

3 “A”s

As a result of the interviews and focus groups, Tom heard from participants that they could identify their experience of synchronicity as three main events, which he has named the 3 “A”s

  1. Acknowledgment – you start to acknowledge the “coincidences;” namely the connections that are meaningful to you.
  2. Awareness – next time you encounter this meaningful connection, you become more observant and conscious;  this has happened again, therefore, you are more open to the occurrences of these meaningful connections from a range of sources, e.g. whether it’s people coming into your life, symbols that have meaning for you or events that show up in your life
  3. Act on it – you recognize that it’s time to pay attention and act on the connections which are meaningful

Two keys psychological orientations come up regarding synchronicity:

  • Being open
  • Being vulnerable

In those two states of being, you are more likely to experience synchronicity.  It’s worth reflecting on the questions to see if those two states feel true for you.

How to Enhance Abilities to Embrace Synchronicity

Create Quiet – meditate, yoga, reflection allow us to be more open to see the synchronities

Allow for Space between – synchronicity occurs in the quiet spaces; journaling time; reflection on the unplanned event, the things that do crop up between the planned events.

Trust – trust the feeling; when you plan too much, you may not allow for intuition

Connect to Tom

Website:  Champlain College

Tom on Twitter

Tom on LinkedIn

Tom on Facebook

Article: Lessons from Ancestors: My Historical, Intergenerational Appreciative Inquiry

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Listen on Google Play Music

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Be an Agent for Positive Change, With Robyn Stratton-Berkessel – PS044

Increasingly, many of us want to have a positive impact in all that we do. Find out how to get greater clarity and comfort with change. Learn the value of positive emotions to change your brain and your body; learn how to assess your character strengths and put them to work; follow a five step process (Appreciative Inquiry) to bring about positive changes.

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