Posts Tagged ‘Impulse Control’

Research proves happiness makes you younger and successful in life

Article Contributed by Guest Author Madalina Iacob

Our internal state is directly correlated with how we age, our health and success in life. Happiness is a relative term, and it is unique to a person’s personality, desires and values in life. Unhappiness comes from lack of self-awareness in knowing what you truly want in life, and therefore bouncing all over the place living conditions others live, because you think living them will make you happy as well. This is the scenario where you compromise or give up your dreams in order to fit in with the majority. The unpleasant surprise you discover afterwards is that you just created responsibility and complications in your life, with situations you don’t really want, and that will make you even more hopeless and depressed.

Unhappiness also comes from you knowing what you want but feeling powerless in getting those life circumstances.

With every negative though we have we’re releasing chemicals into our body, constantly changing our cell’s genetic information which will then show up as wrinkled and dull complexions, hollow eyes, illnesses and pains in the body, addictions and poor performance at work.

On the other hand, when we are happy, we look younger because our internal state reverses and erases the usual marks that come with biological age. Our skin glows, is elastic, resilient and tends to repair itself more easily. Because we feel good about ourselves we are full of energy, there’s a sparkle in our eyes, we smile and laugh a lot and look for opportunities to enjoy every moment to the fullest. We tend to make healthier choices for our body, mind, soul and excel in our careers.

Positive emotions lower blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, undo the effects of stress and make people playful and smart. Happy people are concerned with what makes them joyful, set priorities and get everything they want at the right time through focus, positive expectation and determination.

Passion for what they do in life brings them inner knowledge, and generates positive emotions such as enthusiasm, wonder, excitement and joy of living. All of these emotions expand their awareness and thinking abilities, their creativity soars and their mind opens up with curiosity integrating new intellectual abilities.

Harvard positive psychologist Shawn Achor in his book “The happiness advantage” shares his research results: “We found that optimism is the greatest predictor of entrepreneurial success because it allows your brain to perceive more possibilities. Only 25 percent of job success is based upon IQ. Seventy-five percent is about how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects to other people, and manages stress.”(1)

Moreover, contrary to mediocre beliefs that happiness is not in our control, he shows that happiness can be cultivated: “Genes are really important to happiness, but that’s based upon the cult of the average. What that means is that the average person doesn’t fight their genes. So if you’re born with genes for obesity or for pessimism, and you don’t change your behavior, then your genes win. Happiness comes easier to some people, but happiness is a possibility for all, if we change our behavior or our mindset”(2)

Spokeswoman for Google, Jordan Newman, Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology, says the company’s philosophy is to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world. Why? Because Google knows that happy employees outperform unhappy ones, and that the emotional fitness will generate creativity and problem solving abilities for their software developers.

Google was one of the first corporations to create a wonderland labyrinth of play areas for their employees, in order to increase productivity. They have massage chairs, kitchens or sunny outdoor cafeterias with chaises that serve free food and beverages at all times, free yoga and Pilates classes, football tables and slides, vintage subway cars or Lego play stations, and secret doors leading to private reading areas. All these amenities are meant to change the neurology of the employees, so they can engage better and become more creative. There have been studies done, and the discoveries show that our brain absorbs information at a much faster rate when we are having fun (3) Think back of one of your favorite professors and remember how you got to like the subject so much more because of their personality and teaching style.

As your SI, NLP and EQ coach I am here to help you easily change your mind set, so you can become aware of what you truly want, and learn to produce empowering emotions which will be used as fuel and become a catalyst for behavioral change. You cannot change your external life conditions if you don’t stop to look inside, figure out what you truly want, and then change your mindset, emotional make-up and behavior to create those life conditions. We are very much programmed by our parents, teachers and society at large to believe and value certain things, to fit in with the norm. But there comes a moment in life when you see that even though you have been following all the rules, and you might have all that you should, you don’t feel happy or fulfilled. Every great idea or innovation in the history of human kind has been considered crazy, dangerous or impossible until one person believed otherwise and made it a general accepted truth. Anything is possible and in your power, as long as you have a clear mind, use your emotions to empower yourself, and have fierce determination for what you want.

From personal experience I can tell you that even though by society’s standards I was a successful person in every area of my life, I was not happy, and I had to completely give up all security and start fresh. Coming to US after going for Law School in my native country, I decided to switch fields and do Business Administration and then Positive Psychology because I always dreamed of having my own business and helping people live better lives. At 26 I had a great job working in the Finance department of a large corporation and married my high school sweetheart. Even though by society’s standards I was an accomplished person on the rise, inside I felt like a stranger in my own life. I did not like my job, I only liked the money I was making, and I did not feel connected to my husband anymore, even though he has always been the most loving man I could have asked for. Maybe to blame is the fact that we met at a very young age and have been living together since I was 16 and he 19, or maybe the fact that we did not know how to meet each others needs as we matured.

There was a war going on inside of me with one side saying “you have everything a woman can ask for”, and another side saying you will have a safe life but there is so much more beyond that.

So I started my training in the field of coaching, and told my husband I want a divorce. Even though I regretted hurting him with my decision of getting a divorce, I felt it was wrong for us to stay in a safe marriage where I didn’t feel alive and he didn’t feel appreciated. The passion was always there and that is what kept us together for 14 years. The only problem was that of not listening to the other without losing our patience, and starting a fight out of nothing. Both of us having fiery temperaments, we unconsciously drained ourselves with fights and that created a disconnection.

I won’t lie, change is scary and leaves you vulnerable a lot of times, because all your fears will have to come to the surface, but the rewards are worth it. Once you face your fears you become stronger, and a deep knowing that you can be, have or do anything you want starts settling in. Once that empowered outlook in life is achieved, you start living authentically the life conditions you desire and your life gradually changes for the better.

You cannot trick your brain and emotions. If you’re pretending to everyone else through your words or behavior that you’re happy when in fact you feel discontent with your life choices, it will not help you change how you feel inside. What you feel inside will still show up outside, no matter how much you try to lie to yourself and others.

That is why finding your path, and making meaningful life choices is much more important than following what everyone else is doing. Most people live circumstances they don’t really want, because they feel pressured to compromise and fit in with the lifestyle of your regular Joe or Jane.

If you know that what you want is something different from what most people around you live, go for it, break the rules and make your own rules. Have the courage to be your own master and live a life which brings you happiness regardless of what lifestyle others say you should be living. Live life on your terms and believe in your dreams, if you want an extraordinary life.



1-Achor, Shawn: The Happiness Advantage. Virgin Publishing. September 1st, 2010


3- Hanson, Rick Ph.D. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science Of Contentment, Calm and Confidence. Harmony. Oct 8, 2013


Social & Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Optimizing Decision-Making

Article Contributed by Guest Author Gloria Zamora

Fact based management has proven to be a very beneficial tool to arriving at sound decisions.  Overwhelmingly, data and logic are the main currency of business.  To ignore the facts is to refuse to face reality and learn from past successes and failures.  At the same time, sales professionals know that every decision has some element of emotion.

So how does social and emotional intelligence complement left brain logical decision-making?

David J. Snowden and Mary E. Boone in their Harvard Business Review article, “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making,” postulate that there are simple decisions that have clear cause and effect relationships, as well as complicated decisions that have discoverable but not immediately apparent answers.  These types of problems in what they call a fairly ordered world lend themselves to linear, logical, sequential thought processes to arrive at the right answer.

On the other hand, complex problems have many competing ideas, unpredictability and unknown unknowns.  These conundrums in a more unordered world are best solved with pattern-based assessments.  Creative solutions can be buried in linear thinking.  Social and emotional intelligence and big picture thinking to connect the dots are required to arrive at the best outcome.

Without right brain thinking, which Daniel Pink would call a “Symphony aptitude”, emerging patterns would be missed.  Understanding group dynamics and the unspoken language of other players in the equation provides invaluable insights into the many factors impacting the circumstances.  What is being conveyed, yet not being openly discussed? Those oblivious to social awareness cues are at a distinct disadvantage.

At the same time, not understanding our own and others’ emotions can lead to perilous endings.  Warren Buffett talks about his $200 billion blunder that he made when he was 34 years old.   When he invested in Berkshire Hathaway, a textile company, he felt he had been misled by Seabury Stanton, the CEO.  Buffett was upset about the unfair dealings he had experienced, so he proceeded to buy majority control of the company and  then fired the CEO.  Unfortunately, his sweet revenge was ill fated.  Berkshire Hathaway had been a poor investment.  He recognizes now that to “seek revenge at any cost” can cost you dearly.  He estimates that had he invested in the insurance industry, his company would have been worth almost twice as much today.  Allowing negative emotions to cloud your judgment will never result in optimum solutions.

That is the lesson of Social and Emotional intelligence.

Have you found a correlation between the complexity of a problem and the heightened need for social and emotional intelligent right brain thinking?

Take a Positivity Break

This week’s article comes from Betty Mahalik, one of our own S+EI Certified Coaches.  This article deals with positive psychology and the tremendous positive impact this can have on coaching our clients and on ourselves.  In fact, this topic is so important, we have added an advanced course on positive psychology to the course line-up here at the The Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence.  Betty’s blog post on this topic is definitely worth your time and an excellent article.

Last week I received one of those blog messages that I believe has changed my life. It was from Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of a book I’m reading called Buddha’s Brain, that links current neuroscience research findings with ancient practices such as meditation. His message, backed by research was this: focusing on the positive really works to grow your brain, increase your emotional balance and generally make you a happier, healthier person.

I’ve always prided myself on being a positive person, but Rick’s article took the idea of positivity to a whole new level for me. You see it’s not enough to simply think positive thoughts or keep a gratitude journal or count your blessings. Those are fine as far as they go. But the real juice—that research is now validating as vital for improving your mood, attitude and your health–comes from internalizing those positive experiences at a deep level, using multi-sensory images to “burn” them into your brain. I recently explained it to a coaching client like this: using all of your faculties, reenact the positive experience and then imagine that the positive emotions being triggered are sinking down into your whole body like butter melting into a hot English muffin.

Want to try it? Start right now by recalling a positive moment from the past 24 hours. It might be something as simple as a trip through the produce department of the grocery store to something more emotionally meaningful like a loving conversation with a friend or family member. Now in vivid detail recall that experience with as much sensory memory as you can muster. What color were the fruits and veggies? What color was your friend or family member wearing? What else did you notice during the experience? What smells do you recall? Was there a particularly loving expression or a smile your loved one was wearing? What did you hear? Were there any particular sounds or words you want to recall from the experience?

Once you’ve reenacted the experience with as much imagery as possible, now imagine all of the positive emotions you experienced seeping down through your brain, spreading into your body, neck, back, shoulders and heart. Stay with the imagery and the sensations of love, peace and well-being for as long as you want. You can do this exercise in as little as 30 seconds or take a longer 2-3 minute positivity break. According to Hanson, the longer you can hold the images and feelings the stronger the beneficial effect on your brain: “The longer that something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in implicit memory.”

This practice not only sharpens your recall of the positive things in life, (something many of us have a hard time doing because of a built-in survival bias for noticing the negative), it actually builds more positive neural activity in the brain, which has a beneficial effect on everything from your productivity to your health, according to Hanson’s research. It also strengthens your ability to experience more positive emotions in the moment.

Keep paying attention to the positive and here’s what Hanson says begins to happen: “Over time you will fill up your cup, overcoming the negativity bias of your brain with a growing, inside-out sense of happiness, love, and peace.”

Don’t know about you, but I think our world and each of us as individuals could do with a growing, inside-out sense of happiness, love and peace.

I’ve noticed since I started consciously taking positivity breaks that I’m calmer, more centered, naturally more grateful and I’m paying attention to the little joy-filled moments of everyday rather than waiting for the “biggies” to happen and being disappointed when those so-called big moments don’t live up to my inflated expectations. I also notice that I’m replaying those negative memories and moments less frequently, another benefit to the positivity practice!

Every moment is a gift. This year I invite you to start engaging in regular positivity breaks. Train your brain to “take in the good” and develop the daily habit of reviewing those small but precious moments of happiness that often flit by unnoticed.

Okay I’ll take the lead and declare today a special occasion: National Positivity Day! Now it’s your turn to help create a groundswell of positive experiences and emotions. Go ahead and take a positivity break….take in the good….feel the love.

Have a positively wonderful day, week, month and year!

If you have an interest in learning more about positive psychology and how it can be used in coaching social + emotional intelligence,  our next class starts Thursday, March 7th.  You can view the entire schedule by visiting

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How Do You Recover From Emotional Hijacking?

Article Contributed by Guest Author Betty Mahalik

You’ve most likely heard the term “emotional hijacking” (or “amygdala hijacking”), coined by Dr. Daniel Goleman to describe what happens when a person’s emotions become overwhelming, causing them to “flip out.”  Such an episode can result in physical, mental and emotional damage to both the person experiencing the hijacking, and others who might be watching or be the victim(s) of such an episode.

It starts with a triggering incident, often something relatively minor in the grand scheme of things:  a driver that cuts you off in traffic, a petulant teenager, or an employee who fails to follow directions.  The incident sets in motion an emotional and physiological “runaway train” that can cause serious damage to your health and relationships.

The thoughtless words, the negative comments, the temper tantrum may produce emotional scars that never go away.  Virtually everyone has had one of these adrenaline-fueled fits where we feel powerless to control the emotional tidal wave.

But we aren’t powerless!  We can learn to circumvent our emotional outbursts and safely “dispose” of the negative emotions in healthier ways.  Here are seven ways to recover from an emotional hijacking:

1)    When your emotional trigger gets tripped, stop as soon as possible.  That’s right stop!  Stop your rant, stop your mental terrorist attack on the situation. Stop!  I don’t mean to stop driving if you happen to be.   But if your meltdown is happening in the car, stop focusing on anything but the matter at hand—driving.

2)    Take some deep breaths.  Breathing calms the emotions and simultaneously the mind.  Deep breathing is a known antidote to the adrenalized, heart-pumping fight-or-flight response brought on by an emotional hijacking.  Practice it often and always when the rush of emotions threatens to overtake you.

3)    Count to 6.  Growing up you probably heard the old adage to count to is 10.  Turns out there’s a lot of truth in that. Researchers have discovered it takes about 6 seconds for the response to a triggering event to move from the fight or flight center in the brain to the pre-frontal area where rational thought takes place.  Count to at least 6 before saying a word or taking an action and you may just save yourself from going over the edge.

4)    Put yourself in “time out.” If possible change your physical location.  Go someplace quiet where you can down-shift and work through some of the other steps.

5)    Ask yourself what the real problem is, or how best to solve or address the issue you’re facing.  You may realize it’s only a problem because you’re making it one.  Trying to “prove” that another driver is a jerk, for example, will be a futile and possibly dangerous endeavor.  Besides, allowing the stress-induced fit to continue robs you of brain power. According to one research study, allowing your emotional reactions to run rampant can cause you to temporarily lose up to 15% of your cognitive thinking ability!

6)    After the incident, concentrate on calming down even further.  If possible stop your activity completely and repeat numbers 2, 3, and 4 until calm and reason return.  You’ll be doing others as well as your nervous system a huge favor by taking the time to physically, mentally and emotionally regain your balance.  The stress from an emotional hijacking can have a serious effect on your physical health so taking the time to “de-tox” is well worth it!

7)    Finally, have a short internal command you can issue when you feel yourself losing it.  Good possibilities are “Calm down!” or “Pause!”  Silly and simple as it sounds, just telling yourself mentally to calm down or pause can interrupt the emotional flood long enough to regain your composure.

Now take a deep breath and reflect on the words of this Chinese proverb: “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”

What Do You Do When Co-Workers are Long-Winded?

Article contributed by Terry Hildebrandt, PCC

Have you received feedback that your communication needs to be more succinct? Do your colleagues roll their eyes in meetings when you begin to share what you believe to be an interesting and captivating story? While you might have the gift of gab, your colleagues may not always appreciate this gift in business or personal settings. I work often with mid-level executives who have been told they need to be more succinct, especially when communicating with upper management. Here are some common symptoms of being too verbose.

Symptoms of long-windedness:

  • Sharing too many details that don’t contribute to your key message.
  • Explaining or justifying your reasoning for any decision in great detail.
  • Documenting a blow-by-blow narrative of situations to provide context.
  • Thinking out loud with no clear road map for your audience to follow.

Causes of long-windedness:

  • Lack of confidence in your own judgment

As an expert in your field, your company has hired you to provide your opinions and recommendations. Your audience doesn’t want to do all the analysis themselves to come to the same conclusion that you have. They want your bottom line conclusion with just enough data to convince them that yours is a good decision. Newer executives often feel that they need to prove that their decisions are justified. While this may occasionally be the case for complex or high-risk situations, more often than not your recommendation or conclusion is all they need.

  • Lack of structure

Another cause of long-windedness can be a lack of structure in your communications. This is especially a common problem for extroverts who need the opportunity to think out loud. The side effect of sharing thoughts as they emerge can be confusion on the part of your audience.

  • Ignoring the communication style of others

Individuals vary in the level and type of information required for them to understand situations and make decisions. For example, sensing types prefer concrete data while intuitive types prefer to hear trends, theories, and patterns. A common mistake is to assume that everyone is like us and prefers the same communication approach as we do.

What you can do to be more succinct and clear:

  1. Follow the Think-Feel-Do principle – Keep in mind what you desire your audience to be thinking, feeling, and ready to do at the end of any communication. This simple principle addresses the head, heart, and hands. Craft your communication in such a way that your audience will know how they should feel, what they should think, and what they need to do. Strategically choose details and stories that reinforce these objectives.
  2. Seek feedback  – Check in frequently to see if others are tracking and if they have heard the key points of your message. Only provide more details if they need it.
  3. Adjust to others’ communication styles –  Ask others how they prefer to communicate and adjust your approach based on others’ needs. Also ask them what level of detail they need if you are unsure. Don’t assume that everyone needs the same approach.

Accepting Change

Article contributed by Christene Cronin, CC

Why do things have to change? We hear this phrase often don’t we, or do we just think it to ourselves? But what can we do about it? How can we stop change from annoying or frustrating us? It will be hard not to be affected by change with technology alone, either at home or at work.

Here is an example; the social media called Facebook made some major changes to their software, before I wrote this article. We their customers found out about it when we signed in. The first thing I read was someone’s “frustration” with it and another person’s “irritation” with it.

Or for those of you who are not into social media, what about the other ongoing changes that affect us such as; the internet, on-line banking to the self -check- out counters in stores, to telephones, smart phones, IPads, IPods, eBooks or Skype to watching TV (recording TV shows) or watching movies (Netflix) in your own home or for a more common issue the changes in weather.

So, how can we help ourselves to accept change and not allow it to upset us?

It’s called self-management (Emotional Intelligence). And here’s how you can start; ask yourself a few key questions:

What is it about this change that makes me feel this way?

Sometimes it is a fear of the unknown, which is a common reaction to change, or not having an understanding or awareness with regards to the change. Ask yourself the question over and over “why am I feeling this way?” until you get an answer.

What can I do to change the way I feel?

There is a saying “What you resist will persist”. Accepting the fact that a change has or is happening is one way of releasing the stress.  Also, what does your self-talk sound like? Are you telling yourself that you are quite capable of learning anything you want to? All it takes is a positive attitude, time and patience.

What reasons could they have for making changes?

This requires positive and sometimes creative thinking; try to “think outside the box”. For some reason our minds immediately want to criticize or judge, but then anyone can do that, can’t they? Change is usually intended to make things better. So take a moment to think about two to three positive reasons or benefits for this change and you will feel the uneasiness subside.

How can I get guidance or direction in this matter of change?

You will be amazed at how many people “want” to help others learn. Wouldn’t you if someone asked you for help? People are more than happy to pass on their knowledge to someone else. Ask a family member, neighbor, friend or colleague at work.  You can also ask for assistance from your social media group or do some research via the internet.

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”.  Author Unknown

What We Can Learn From Dr. Martin Luther King About Social And Emotional Intelligence

We usually have the opportunity to see clips of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on this day.  I love to listen to his courageous and moving words, and reflect on his inspirational and urgent call to end segregation, bigotry and racial injustice, and his plea for tolerance, compassion, and civility.

Martin Luther King delivered his now famous 17-minute speech on a sweltering August day in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to over 200,000 people.
His speech still inspires. His legacy still inspires. His dream still inspires.
His life, his speeches, and his legacy can also teach us a great deal about social and emotional intelligence.
Research has demonstrated again and again that people who are most successful in life and work have a high degree of emotional and social intelligence. Through his words and actions, MLK demonstrated a high degree of social and emotional intelligence (S&EI); he is also widely considered to have been highly successful. He was the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and was twice named “Man of the Year” by TIME magazine. His life and his words successfully launched the civil rights movement that sparked significant change in our nation. Read the rest of this entry »