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The Inner Peace Series – No. 2: Correct your mind and the rest of your life will fall into place

Lao Tse, one of the world’s greatest philosophers, said:

“Correct your mind and the rest of your life will fall into place.”

So, what’s the correction you need to make?

According to Lao Tse, it’s the shift from fear to inner peace, and 2,500 years later neuroscience has proven the ancient sage was right.

Research has established that the mental shift from stress and fear to inner peace resets your brain state to the calm, creativity, and optimism that predicts success in your endeavors.

People who have mastered the shift from fear to peace make few if any mistakes. They tend to stay out of trouble, instead of chronically struggling to get out of trouble.

As a result, their peaceful brains mobilize the intelligence (that stress hormones retard) to reach greater and greater heights.

“Seek peace,” Jesus said, “and all things shall be given to you.”

So, how do you make the inner shift to peace when the world around you seems to vibrate like Grand Central Station at rush hour?

Here’s a prescription from Lee Ufan, the great modern artist:

“Agitated, busy people. Stop and stand still for a moment. Look at the sky. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. If you do this, you will change and the world will come to life.”

You can begin simply by taking a one-minute timeout for peace.

  • Simply stop what you’re doing, resisting the compulsion to keep working, and step away from the busy-ness of the world for a moment.
  • Let go of what you were thinking and allow your mind and body to relax.
  • Take a deep breath and allow yourself to relax even more.
  • Let go of everything. Feel your brain relax as you let go.
  • No worries, no problems, no goals, no one to please, nothing to change or fix. Just you and the freedom to simply be yourself for a moment.
  • Take a slow, easy breath – and as you do – let your mind and heart open wide.
  • Allow peace to begin to emerge as your experience, all by itself.

Do this two or three time a day for a week and see if your life begins to fall into place.

The Inner Peace Series – No. 1: Everything is Mindset

2017-01-27-1485551791-3831638-mindset.jpgConsider this. Everything for a human being is mindset.

And further, there are really only two mindsets.

The first mindset creates an experience of contraction that feels like the walls are closing in on you. It’s built on the fearful, stressful, pessimistic thinking that makes you believe you’re a victim of circumstances.

The second mindset creates an experience of expansion that makes you feel like the sky’s the limit. It’s built on love, inner peace and optimism and makes you believe you’re larger than circumstances.

And here’s the trick: when you are contracted (meaning stressed, afraid or judgmental) simply accepting yourself completely for the neurotic way you are being at the moment generates the shift into an expanded experience of self.

In other words. being at peace with your painful state of non-peace restores the expansive feeling of peace. It’s how you end stress.

Test it for yourself.

 

The New Formula for Success in Business

canstockphoto16449710The new research I am about to summarize could not be more important to a company’s
success. Taken as a whole it tells us that the more stressful the job, the lower the employee engagement; the lower the employee engagement the less efforts succeed.

By extension, if a company is not focused on resolving stress, it’s not succeeding fully. Resolve stress in a floundering business unit and it’s more likely it will begin to thrive. Resolve stress in a unit that’s just hitting its numbers and it’s likely to double the expected result.  Resolve stress where employees excel and they’ll likely achieve what’s never been done.  Here’s the research that supports all this.

Finding #1: Companies that achieve high employee engagement outperform their competition across all business metrics. Those in the top half of employee engagement nearly double their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half (Gallup, 2016).  Those at the 99th percentile have four times the success rate of those at the first percentile. Business units that measure high in employee engagement generate 20% more in sales and are 21% more profitable than business units who measure low in engagement.  Add to that, the fact that employee engagement is positively correlated with job satisfaction (Bin Shmailan, 2016) and employee retention (Lado and Wilson, 1994).

Finding #2:  Only 24 percent of nearly 600 managers surveyed by the Harvard Business Review considered most of their employees highly engaged (HBR, 2013).  Yikes! Add to it the finding that business units with disengaged employees suffer nearly twice the absenteeism and 31 percent more turnover (Harter, 2006). This suggests that 3 out of 4 business units are either failing or lackluster, falling well short of the level of success they would achieve if everyone was fully engaged.

Finding #3: It turns out that stress and disengagement are highly correlated. Nearly 60 percent of employees experiencing high levels of stress are disengaged. That means if you’re on a project team of ten, only four are swinging for the fence; the rest are striking out. It’s even worse with sales people, who research shows are much more likely to be chronically stressed (Sagar, 1994).  In contrast, only one in ten employees with low stress levels are disengaged and half of this group claimed to be highly engaged (Willis Towers Watson, 2014).

So here is the million-dollar question: Is there something that can be done quickly and effectively to cut the stress employees experience.

Finding #4: There is now a solution to stress that neuroscience has identified that goes far beyond conventional stress management. Here is what science now knows.

  • During three decade of stress management programs, stress in America actually went up 30 percent. This was largely due to the fact that much of stress management focuses on changing stress-related behavior, and most of these behaviors are hard-wired into the brain.
  • There are biological factors associated with stress, meaning if we have a problem with stress, it has more to do with genetics than the job. Genetics and past traumas can wire our brain for a hyperactive stress response system, meaning fight, flight or freeze reactions, the latter two of which lead to disengagement. Thus, the solution to the problem of stress requires changing the way the brain is wired.
  • Breakthroughs in neuroscience over the last 15 years have established the capacity of a human being to down-regulate the stress gene and rewire the brain, through a mindfulness approaches that change mental attitude, and in as little as 8-weeks The technical term for the rewiring process is positive neuroplasticity. It not only quiets stress reactions, but also amplifies the higher brain function that predicts success.  “Mindfulness” simply refers to a definable practice that facilitates the fundamental shift in attitude that relates to stressors with the level of calm, creativity, and optimism that solves problems, instead of reacting stressfully.

ProAttitude, a human performance firm with programs that facilitate positive neuroplasticity has trained more than 4,000 people in high pressure companies, cutting stress levels by 40% and raising people’s performance, creativity, and well-being.  Clearly, positive neuroplasticity should be on every manager’s agenda.

Stress is contagious and kids are catching it at the expense of their developing brains

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) study on stress found that nearly half of America’s kids are stressed.  This is bad news because it means unhealthy amounts of stress hormones are coursing through the developing brains of these children and that causes learning and behavior problems. The area of the brain most vulnerable to stress hormones is the prefrontal cortex. It generates intelligence, learning, and the top-down regulation for impulse control, which means that a child’s stressed brain will struggle with learning and be prone to acting out. Stress hormones also dampen the immune system causing more frequent and more intense colds and flu.

PARENTS TAKE NOTE

The same APA study found that 91 percent of kids say that what stresses them most is how stressed their parents have become, and that 69 percent of parents were oblivious to the impact their level of stress is having on the kids. This finding corroborates a previous study by the Families and Work Institute that found what kids want most is “stress-free parents.” In this study, interviewers asked children to make one wish for a change in their parents. Parents were then asked to guess what the children wished for, and most parents guessed it was for more quality time. It was the wrong answer. The majority of children wished for their parents to be free of stress. It turns out that kids are very good at detecting subtle cues about a parent’s stress, such as their down-turned expression, heavy footsteps, and fatigue.

SCHOOLS TAKE NOTE

Teaching school is a highly stressful occupation and now a study in Canada, the first of its kind, has found that a teacher’s stress is also impacting kids. In this study, researchers examined the connection between teacher burnout and students’ cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone and a biological indicator of stress. Researchers collected saliva samples from over 400 elementary school children and tested their cortisol levels. They found that in classrooms in which teachers experienced more stress or feelings of emotional exhaustion, students’ cortisol levels were elevated. Higher cortisol levels in elementary school children have been linked to learning difficulties as well as mental health problems.

THE KEY TAKE-AWAY

The same APA study I cited earlier found that 83 percent of Americans are doing little or nothing to lower their stress level. These new findings should help motivate us to take stress seriously.  Stress is not something we should someday do something about.  It needs our attention now, especially parents and teachers. A child’s ability to tap their full measure of brain power depends on it.

FREE STARTER KIT FOR BUSTING STRESS

But don’t stress. Take heart. The picture the research paints is something we can change. It’s simpler than you might imagine and results can accrue faster than you might think. It takes a commitment to understanding your pattern of stress that a painful past and genetics wired into your brain, and then learning the shift in mindset that rewires your brain to instill more joy in your work, more peace in your life, and more harmony in your relationships.

We can change our brain in ways that achieve a better day and turn each and every day into a better life. The studies that prove it are now piled high.  Click here for a free starter kit that begins the process of making you, your home, and the classroom happier and more peaceful.

The End of Stress

See if you can remember a time that perhaps lasted only a minute, when nothing came to interrupt your peace of mind. Perhaps you were on a beach or walking in a groove of trees, and suddenly you felt safe, whole, and loving, and for that moment all was well and your future was not in doubt. If you can’t remember such a moment, imagine it. Experience how quiet and at ease your mind would become, how expansive you would feel, and how clear and present you would be.

Now picture what it would be like to have that moment extend until it became your day. This might give you a hint of what it would be like to be free of the fearful illusions that a brain chronically under stress generates. Without these illusions, there would be no fear, no stress, no doubt, and no need to attack or defend.

“Who you are,” states Eckhart Tolle, “is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment. You and what we call the present moment are one.” In the quiet of the present moment, the false image of yourself fades. The image of a threatening world fades. The judgments you project onto people and events fade. Your fear of failure fades and what takes its place is the happiness you can experience right here, right now, when you are not afraid of anything. Merton-large-2 copy

Peace is powerfully positive and yet some people equate it with complacency. To the contrary, inner peace is the mental state that drives the emotional intelligence that predicts success at every level of life. The poet W.B. Yeats said, “We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” Growing up, the person who fit Yeats’ description in my life was my Irish godmother. She was wise with a face that was lit from within and a quality of presence that was kind and calming. Our home was full of the pandemonium that my siblings and I could make, but when Genevieve came to visit we all quieted down and behaved ourselves. We loved being in her presence. Her way of being had a way of inspiring us to want to do something good with our lives.

Thomas Merton wrote, “All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear.” Which is to say, what matters is the quality of your inner experience as you face the outer world. One way to bring a little more peace to a stressful day is to take an occasional time-out to give peace the chance to change your day. It’s simple and only takes a minute. Here’s how.

  • Stop what you’re doing and step away from the world for a moment.
  • Let go of what you were thinking or doing, and allow your mind and body to relax.
  • Let go of everything. Feel your brain relax as you let go.
  • No worries, no problems, no goals, no one to please, nothing to change or fix.
  • Take a slow, deep breath and as you do, let your mind and heart open wide and allow peace to emerge as your experience, all by itself.