Rekindling Their Spark – Can You Be A Guide On The Side? (Spirit)
March 28, 2017
Is there someone in your world who is uninspired, apathetic, disinterested? Seems dissatisfied and less than engaged? Shows signs of rusting out, coasting on autopilot or being stuck in the swamp?
Maybe you feel concerned, and you’re not sure how to help. Rest assured, there are things you can do.
The first thing to know – and share – is that malaise is a common and often recurring life experience. At first, each new venture seems fresh and exciting. Eventually it becomes old and familiar.
Understanding that this ‘loss of luster’ is a normal part of the ebb and flow of life reassures those who find themselves mired in the mud.
In a recent survey, 95% of respondents reported they had experienced malaise in their lives. 57% in their forties. 53% in their fifties. 39% in their thirties. And even 20% in their twenties.
Many people experience a dip in satisfaction part way through their lives as they come to terms with unmet expectations. Although life may be ‘good’, it may not feel ‘great’. Some feel discouraged by a loss of passion. They’ve run out of dreams and goals; or they’ve become creatures of habit and stopped learning new things. Others question whether they are really creating the kind of legacy they had hoped to leave along the way.
Sometimes all that’s needed is a sense of possibility. – Rachel Remen
Beyond normalizing the experience, here are other actions you can take to support people as they set about rekindle their enthusiasm for life.
Reach out to connect and open a conversation. Let them know what you’re noticing. Ask what they think and how they feel about their situation.
Listen in a deep respectful way. Sometimes what others need most is an opportunity to give voice to what’s going on inside. They may not need or want someone else to step in and try to ‘fix’ the situation. They simply need to hear themselves say out loud the ideas that may be rolling around in their minds or drifting through their subconscious.
Offer encouragement. Perhaps there is a first step they are already considering, and they could use a cheerleader at the starting line. Letting others know you care about their situation and will be there as they move forward is one way to lift their spirits.
Share other perspectives and fresh ideas. Maybe you have wrestled with malaise and moved through it in your own life, but not yet shared that story. This could be the time. Or, you may know of friends and colleagues who have publicly shared their journeys. Some of those experiences might have relevance to the person you are supporting.
Extend an invitation to try something new. Novel experiences can help people jump their ruts and set off in a more promising direction. Sometimes being exposed to new possibilities is all it takes to develop a fresh and invigorating point of view.
Express appreciation for who the person is and what they do. When suffering from malaise, people can easily tilt to the dark side and color everything in their lives as negative and problematic. Most periods of stuck-ness are temporary. And ‘all or nothing’ thinking and an exaggerated sense of catastrophe add unnecessary weight to the situation.
Deliver honest feedback and straight talk. If you know the person well, you may be in a position to kindly question some of their assumptions in ways that will help them get a clearer grip on problems and possibilities.
Model engagement and renewal in your own life. In all things, we give greater credence to ‘what people do’ over ‘what people say’. Pay close attention to your own well-being. Stay as engaged as possible in your own life roles. When you model a pro-active approach to re-invention and re-direction it gives others hope and courage to step out in new directions of their own.
And finally… a cautionary note. Stay alert to the difference between malaise (a temporary fog that comes and goes) and depression (a dark and heavy cloud that feels like it will stay forever). Although your support will always to be important to someone who suffers from depression, that more serious situation calls for professional expertise. Help them access that sooner rather than later.
Reflection: What do you think? Is a crazy busy life with no time to spare the new status symbol in North America?
Sadly enough, that just may be the case! Several recent pieces of research found that we now admire and hold in higher esteem those who present themselves as overloaded and run off their feet.
In one experiment, participants read letters from a fictional friend. In Letter A he complained about being crazy busy with no time to relax and watch TV. In Letter B he described himself as relaxed, spending time watching sports on TV. Readers ranked the busy friend twice as high on a scale of wealth and social status as they ranked the more leisurely friend. (more…)
PAUSE – 17.05 – It’s Never Too Late To Appreciate
March 8, 2017
Reflection: Last Friday, March 3rd, was Employee Appreciation Day. Did you note it? Did you mark it? Or, did you miss it?
If you marked it, good for you! If you missed it, worry not! You now have a 51-week head start on planning a thoughtful gesture or two for next year’s Appreciation Day.
People love to be celebrated on ‘their’ special days. That’s true whether you are an employee, a volunteer, a boss, a mom, or a dad. However, cards, treats, lunches, and bouquets of flowers once a year only do so much. It’s what happens on the other 364 days of the year that determine whether people truly feel appreciated. (more…)
PAUSE – 17.03 – Choose High Alert for Things Gone Right
Reflection: Things going right or things going wrong? To what do you pay more attention as you make your way through your day?
Are you on high alert for slights, missteps, and errors of omission or commission?
Are you quick to criticize, and eager to pounce on any infraction against the way things ought to be – in the world according to your Inner Judge?
Or are you tuned to signs that things just might be going well, open to receiving life’s everyday gifts, and prepared to be pleasantly surprised?
Are you quick to appreciate, and keen to focus attention on life’s joyful developments?
And beyond assigning labels of ‘bad or good’ to the experiences of the day, how open are you to the possibility that something first thought ‘wrong’ might just end up being ‘right’? (more…)
PAUSE – 16.33 – Wishing You All The Best Of The Season
December 21, 2016
For the last few years, I’ve devoted the final December Pause message to one key idea. Peace, joy, love, hope, kindness, grace, presence, gratitude, and contentment have all taken their turns in the spotlight.
This year my choice is happiness. There has been a ton of research done on happiness, and more than a few words printed on the subject. Launch a web search for happiness, and you’ll be rewarded with more than 400 million results. Trying to wade your way through that might wipe the smile off your face!
Some of the guidance on happiness suggests it’s something to be vigorously pursued. Another common point of view suggests happiness is a natural by-product of achieving things and contributing to the well-being of others.
What resonates most strongly for me is the idea that happiness already exists in our lives, and that we’d experience it more often if we only paused to pay closer attention.
So that is my year-end wish for you – that you find the space and make the time to savor those bits of happiness already enriching your life and your world.
Below you’ll find a sampling of quotes on happiness (quite a few by the prolific freelance writer, Robert Brault). (more…)
PAUSE – 16.30 – What’s Your Impact Going To Be Today?
November 30, 2016
It’s true. Our presence, our words, and our actions all have an impact on others. Being absent, saying nothing, and doing nothing also have an impact on others.
And, as I expect Goodall is suggesting in this quote, those same behaviours have an impact on our world at large.
If you set out to have the most positive impact on people and places in your world today, where would you be, what would you say, and what would you do?
PAUSE – 16.29 – Can You See Yourself As A Perennial?
November 23, 2016
Reflection: Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Millenials are all labels assigned to groups of people of a certain age.
In a world where we look for easy answers and ready-made explanations, this pigeonholing has gained a lot of traction. However, oversimplifying can build barriers instead of connections.
Each group is portrayed as having predictable motivations, values and behaviours. Those characterizations are not always accurate. For each generalization, most of us could cite an exception to the rule.
In truth, many of us share common values and aspirations despite the fact that we were born and raised in different times.
For these reasons, I was intrigued to read a recent article by Gina Pell, who notes that there are individuals of every age who live in the present, connect to world developments, and relate to others of varied ages. They stay curious and relevant, keep learning and growing, and consistently try new things.
I wrote this message on November 14 in honor of ‘Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day’. (Thanks to my perennially good humored friend, Michael Kerr, for bringing these special days to our attention.)
A number of recent events (your list here…) might have prompted you to do just the opposite – to tighten up, flip out, or tilt to the dark side.
What if we could find a few ways to loosen our grip and lighten our mood? Well, here’s a handful of starter actions to lead you down that road: (more…)
PAUSE – 16.27 – Regrets? How Do You Make Them Fewer?
November 9, 2016
Reflection: If you’ve been following some of the work I’ve shared over the last year with respect to Spark & Malaise, you’ll recall me mentioning Bonnie Ware’s findings on the regrets people express near the ends of their lives.
In her research, the number one regret Ware heard repeatedly was that ‘people wished they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves instead of the lives that others expected of them.’
That top finding is echoed in more recent research by Kathy Caprino.
In Caprino’s survey of those at an earlier stage in their lives (middle age and mid-career), she found the following top five regrets: (more…)