Category Archives: Mindset Matters

Group of singers enjoy singing together in a yurt

When ‘out of tune’ works wonders for wellbeing

We already know from the vast array of research that singing does wonders for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. We also know first-hand how fantastic belting out a power ballad in the shower feels!

Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, our feel-good chemicals known to relieve stress and anxiety. Studies show that regular singers have reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a stronger immune system. The controlled breath helps us take in more oxygen and improves circulation. More O2 elixir reaches our brains boosting how awake we feel, our ability to concentrate and remember things.

That’s without even leaving the shower. Bring people together to sing and magic really happens.

Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding so can really glue a group to combat feelings of loneliness and depression. The sense of ‘being in it together’ and the achievement that comes from working towards a common goal also taps into our human desire for purpose and meaning in our lives.

Where there are people, there is singing – why not at work?

Compare a map of UK singing groups with a map of UK population; where there are people, there are choirs. Over 2 million people choose to sing in over 40,000 choirs (Voices Now UK Big Choral Census, July 2017).

The evidence presents a strong case for singing not only supporting individual wellbeing but also strengthening engagement and performance. There are huge numbers of people at work but you don’t often hear much singing.

If you ask 10 people, “Can you sing?” For every person who humbly responds, often almost apologetically, “Yes”, there are another nine… read more

Full blog featured on Mad World News, 11 September 2018

In need of some G.D.P.R. light relief? We’ve just the thing…

Life is full of challenges.  Right now, for many G.D.P.R. is top of the hit list. Dominating many a conversation as we’re a week away from 25th May.

On talking to friends, business contacts, clients and suppliers alike – if the dreaded phrase comes up, it’s often accompanied by a heated cheek flush and an almost imperceptible steam that starts to rise in comedy cartoon fashion.

Creating a culture of data privacy is a serious matter, we take that seriously at Light Mind (how many times have you read that recently?) Yet as with any challenge in life, they don’t have to be as challenging as we sometimes make them, we can choose to be more ‘light minded’.

Some things in life we can’t change. G.D.P.R. falls in that camp. What we can change is the way we approach how we think and feel about it.  That’s our choice to make.

To quote Victor Frankl as he put it so eloquently:

“the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”

With one week to go, we’ve done our homework, put the legwork in and we’re G.D.P.R. ready AND best of all, we’ve had some fun along the way.

Enjoy a minute of light relief – even better if you sing along…

Special thanks to:

Chris Lunn, Digity for the creative concept

Tuneless Choir Maidenhead for their continued exuberance (we had a pre Royal Wedding celebration on Wednesday – we can confirm that no members of the Royal family were harmed in the making of this video).  As is the nature of Tuneless Choir, we ‘sing like no one is listening’ and although this may have been ‘take two’ it was only because I forgot to hit record the first time.  Sorry for that folks, thanks for being brilliant sports. 

Tracy James, Bright Yellow Coaching for her continued support and guidance on getting G.D.P.R. compliant 

The Village People for Y.M.C.A. which enabled us to enjoy our G.D.P.R. preparation experience 

Obsessed with your smart phone? Not that smart.

Time to ‘fess up… have you ever used your smart phone on the loo?

I’ll admit I was one of many sheepish people who put their hands up when Laura, from Shine Offline, asked the question a second time. Yes, I’m guilty of the occasional social scroll whilst also answering the call of nature.

How on earth did we get here? Attending ‘How to have a happy and healthy relationship with your technology’ by Shine Offline (in partnership with Action for Happiness), Laura explained some of the factors that have contributed to us being‘ switched on’ 24/7; the speed and growth of technology from the mid 90’s with no usage guidelines and ‘Nomophobia’.

What is Nomophobia?

‘Nomophobia‘ as in ‘No-Mobile-Phobia‘ is actually a thing; the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use it.

We’ve all been there… you forget your phone and feel like you’ve had a limb surgically removed.  Even though you know it’s at home, it doesn’t stop you reaching for it ALL THE TIME to check notifications, see what the weather’s doing, add a ‘to-do’ (and there’s a pleasing sense that you’ll have lots of missed calls and messages to wade through when reunited, when in reality you get home and…        )

Stage showing Shine Offline logo on screen and Action for Happiness roll up banner

Shine Offline & Action for Happiness; creating a happier world together

How technology impacts our health and wellbeing…

Left unchecked, how we use our tech has a massive impact on how we feel at work and home.  Increasingly distracted, feeling overwhelmed and always plugged in, not having enough down time reduces our creativity and the habit of ‘continuous partial attention’ can put strain on, if not ruin relationships.

If you’re verging on iPhone addiction, check out ‘Six simple ways to improve your relationship with your smartphone‘ and to break that smartphone obsession, ‘5 best apps for managing smartphone addiction‘.

iPhone on plate at dinner setting

Who are you really having dinner with? Your friend or your phone? Knife, fork, iPhone is the new dinner place setting.

What I learnt from ‘Shine Offline’

HEAPS.  The session beautifully balanced the value and role of digital technology in our lives and how by making simple choices to use it more mindfully (vs. not at all) we can have a better experience, setting a ‘shining‘ example to those around us.

It was clear from the outset that Light Mind shares similar values; enabling people to reconnect with themselves and others to feel better, there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ and lasting change takes regular practice.

Interesting facts…

  • The average iPhone user makes TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN actions a day on their phone
  • 80% of managers are effectively cancelling out their annual leave if consider the time spent ‘online’ when away from the office in evenings / weekends

What I particularly enjoyed…

  • We played a version of the ‘Generation Game’ conveyor belt to emphasise the impact and reality of attention deficiency and the risk of extinction of life skills such as navigating with a compass and letter writing
  • This 30 second mirror on the reality we find ourselves in with how we use our devices… “Really?!”  Hands up who’s guilty?

What I’m going to do differently… 

  • Notifications for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are OFF so I now go into those apps on ‘my terms’ (which is still way more than I’d like but practice makes progress…)
  • Two no phone zones… the bedroom at night – although my alarm clock is an old iPhone with no SIM, it hasn’t stopped me leaving my active phone downstairs on charge, so a renewed commitment to that one.  And finishing as I started… the ceramic throne is now a definite NO PHONE ZONE!

I would totally recommend ‘Shine Offline’ as a great addition to any planned ‘Wellbeing at Work’ event.  For more ideas on sustainable health and wellbeing, follow Light Mind on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Leopard print slug

Slugs, potential thugs and the power of play

On my train journey home today I was inspired to play by a Flying Racoon.  (Just going to leave that one there).

As the wise Flying Racoon says, us adults are quick to share reasons (excuses?) why we don’t have time for play and don’t see why we should do something that’s pointless?  One might assume given my line of work, that life feels like one big game!  Not strictly true as things I once considered hobbies and chances to recharge now come with the pressure of ‘earning a living’.

Accepting the play challenge

So, it being a beautiful evening, I decided to challenge myself to make my walk home more playful, I had to get from A to B anyway.

This is part of said walk.

To start with, I chose to walk only on the white line – it wasn’t all that easy!  The small bumps and lumps surprisingly sent me off balance – impressive given I was, zero millimetres off the ground.

Close to sticking my hands out to keep steady and try for a side dip off my balance beam – lucky I didn’t because at that moment a cyclist whipped past and shouted – ‘Be careful, you might fall off!‘ As he disappeared on two wheels, we both shared a laugh about my little game.

I also thought back to my morning walk.  The path is called the ‘Gullet’ but on wet days I call it the ‘Sluglet’ because you’re running the gauntlet of slimy slugs. My approach to play this morning was to put myself in the slug’s shoes, or suckers, or whatever they have, and imagine how the world must look from their perspective, taking it right to the minutia.

Back in the balance beam championship, on the home straight across the park, again, another young fellow beamed at me and said ‘make sure you stay on the line!‘  We both carried on our merry way, with smiles on our faces and I like to think, a spring in our step (I nearly fell off).

The power of play

I’m no stranger to saying hello to anyone I walk past in the street but it’s not often that people I pass are the ones that initiate connection with me.

Remember when you were a kid and you saw other kids playing together – chances are you assumed inclusion, bowled over and joined right in.  Our natural adult instinct (or practiced behaviour?) when we pass someone in the street is to become unusually fascinated with our shoes.  I loved that my simple game was seen as an invitation to connect.

Even if we struggle to carve out time to get to an art class, or have quiet time reading a book, there are many mundane things we do in the course of a day.  Challenge yourself to liven them up a little so they make you smile.  Failing that, grab a pen and stick it between your teeth for 30 seconds.

When we feel better, we do better.  Fact.

#itpaystoplay

Help! I’m in a ‘Fixed’ mindset hole and need to learn my way out…

An article on bravery, making choices and cheese sandwiches.  Read in full and share your thoughts on LinkedIn

I almost didn’t write this article until I realised I’d totally fallen into, and was flailing about in, a big black hole of the Fixed mindset. Lucky for me, I went for a run and listened to Carol Dweck’s audiobook ‘Mindset‘ (not for the first time, it really is a great book).

My revelation? The only thing holding me back was my own mind. Thinking that whatever I put out there in the public domain, at this precious time of starting up a new business, would need to be received as perfect, beautifully articulate and the full package. I was also fearful to share a concept that I know some view as ‘alternative’. There is so much of ‘me’ in it that I was scared of being judged and how it would therefore reflect on me as a person. All.  Very.  Human.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – recent advice from a 10 year old

The irony here? The core belief at the heart of my new business Light Mind, is that ‘mindset matters‘. A growth mindset way of thinking about the same scenario is to recognise that it’s ALWAYS a work in progress, asking for input is a fantastic opportunity to learn and building a direct understanding of challenges facing businesses today can only help me refine my message. Also, that it’s brave to be vulnerable – the fixed mindset route would have been to play it safe and keep my thoughts to myself.

Read full article on LinkedIn

What gets your mojo going?

Hard day at work?  How do you switch off, relax and reboot?

  • Sweaty workout or squash game?
  • Quiet time reading or sofa snuggling with your favourite lab or tabby?
  • Chatting to a trusted confidante?
  • Release the pressure with a drinks in the local boozer?

Whatever your strategy, things that usually give us the best chance of a battery recharge are those that require our full attention.  Giving us ‘time out’ from the constant mental chatter that might have been present throughout the day.

  • Must remember to send that email…
  • Maybe I should do another draft of the report…
  • AWESOME IDEA to streamline that process…
  • Did I leave the money out for the cleaner/feed the cat/get the lasagna out of the freezer?

The list goes on, and on, and on…
For me it’s singing.  I LOVE singing.  It’s a really cathartic way to release pent up emotions and let go of the day’s stresses. It’s really difficult to worry about tomorrow’s presentation when you’re belting out a power ballad (eyes closed, singing into the hairbrush).

Singing is good for you.  FACT.  We are social creatures by nature and need to feel connected to others.  Another FACT.  (Backed up by credible scientific research I’ll have you know).  Kitchen karaoke or choir crooning may not be your thing but take time to explore what gets your mojo going.  When you find it, carve time out to make it a priority, even if it’s just an hour a week.

Life isn’t always easy, but having that time to reboot and recharge with a seemingly purposeless activity is far from time wasted, it’s timeless.  It makes time stand still and for someone with a busy mind, the benefits are beyond value.

Tabitha

“When a control freak loses control, all you have left is the freak”

This quote has stuck with me since my wife put it to me in a moment of my own freakiness.

It’s a great quote – it beautifully nails the human endeavour – it’s all about control.

In my experience as a coach, the surest way to lose control is to purely focus on ‘winning’.  Winning involves too many variables outside one’s influence, let along control.  The day Lehman’s collapsed, a friend of mine lost 75% of his business.  Yes, a recipe for a ‘freaky’ day or two in the aftermath.  But to bounce back from a setback, the focus isn’t on winning; it’s on acting like a consistent high performer.  It’s the consistent high performer that has the presence of mind to take a deep breath, step back and assess the situation, identify opportunities and have the courage to step forward again.  It’s the high performer mindset that gives you the required control in order to be successful.

Ask yourself, what would be different in your life if you had 10% more of a high performer’s state of mind?

Guest blog from Adie Shariff

“Thinking problems makes you an expert in problems; thinking possibilities makes you an expert in progress”

Now that really is worth thinking about.

The more senior you become, the next birthday that passes, the more complex things seem to get – more stakeholders to satisfy, greater consequences of failure, higher expectations, shorter time frames, a few health gliches etc.  The list goes on.

As a committed human being, what options do you have beyond hiding under the duvet?  You can try and be clever – look for the causes of problems – ask WHY?  However when we look into problems, we find more problems and become ‘problem saturated’.  Now, that can’t be good.

The lines between real, perceived and completely made up problems become obscure with helplessness a close companion.  A different option, rather than looking backwards into problems, is to look forward to possibilities.

Ask yourself, what does success look like?  How would I know things were moving forward?  What would life look like if the problem wasn’t there, how would I feel?  Suspend judgment and answer these questions – come up with at least 30 bullet points (50 if you’re feeling adventurous).

Then step back – what you’ll start discovering are the clues and signposts to make progress into possibilities around which you can design your own way forward.

The moral of this note?  Thinking problems makes you an expert in problems.  Thinking possibilities makes you an expert in progress.  Sit with this sentiment for a while and see if it makes sense.  Better still, experiment with it and see what happens.  What have you got to lose?

Guest blog from Adie Shariff

(Thanks to Evan George for the title quote)