Do you have any tips for helping someone deal with stress?
That’s a great question since stress is known to suppress the immune system, making us much more susceptible to a variety of illnesses. Research shows that living in a state of brain and heart coherence will decrease your stress levels, boost your immune function, strengthen your heart, and promote an overall sense of well-being.
Most of us were taught to believe that the heart is constantly guided by orders from the brain through our neural circuitry. But did you know that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart?
To reach a state of brain and heart coherence is to simply integrate your thoughts, intentions, and actions together in seamless alignment with the current environment. Being in coherence will have a powerful effect on your mental health, emotional stability, and resilience. Here are three effective practices you can undertake to create a powerful state of heart and brain coherence in your life:
Can you give us some tips for the best ways to make healthy habits stick?
Certainly. Here are three tips you’ll find useful for sticking with any good habit.
The first rule is to start small—when you begin a new habit it should only take a few minutes. Remember that behaviors become progressively more automatic through repetition—in other words, the amount of time you spend doing something is not as important as the number of times you repeat it. Habits that begin with just a few minutes a day can eventually impact your behavior for hours, weeks, months, and years afterward. Your initial objective is to first build the habit of simply “showing up” and then expand from there.
Second, keep in mind that our brains are wired to repeat behaviors that feel satisfying—the more immediate the reward is, the more motivated you will be to continue doing it. So, if you want a habit to stick, make it a point to reward yourself and celebrate small wins along the way, regardless of how insignificant they may seem at the time. Over time, those small wins will be the compound interest of your self-improvement.
Third, surround yourself with people who already practice the habits you want to build. It shouldn’t be a surprise that other people play a key role in your behavior choices. You will be the average of the people you hang around the most. If you want to get into better physical shape, spend your time with people who have the habits of regularly exercising and eating healthy diets. If you want to increase your knowledge, begin attending book discussion groups with avid readers. With social support and accountability, your success at sticking with good habits will be greatly increased.
Last week you cited the failure to develop habits that raise one’s level of personal development as the greatest obstacle to success. Is there anything else?
Yes. Be careful not to confuse staying busy with being productive. On the road to success, wherever that may lead, we must learn to say “No” at times to the things that don’t produce the results we desire most. Because our time is limited, if you say “Yes” to one thing, you may be saying “No” to something that is much better. To paraphrase what a wise person once said: “Good can often be the enemy of the great.”
Therefore, you must be vigilant about how you manage your time and regularly ask yourself two questions:
Time is precious. Make it a habit of spending it wisely.
You write a lot about success in your books. What do you think is the greatest obstacle to success?
That is a great question! Success means various things to different people, but I often pose the question: “On a scale from one to ten, how successful would you like to be?” Well, of course we all want to be a ten when it comes to success—or at least hovering around an eight or nine. Right?
Here is the next question, which is a little tougher: “Be honest with yourself—on a scale to ten, how would you rate your overall level of personal development?” If you are like most people the answer will be five…maybe six…or seven, on a good day. In the gap between those two questions lies a major clue for the obstacle to your success. If you desire to be a ten on the success scale, but rate only a six or seven on the development scale, you definitely have some work to do.
Now, let’s go a step deeper with one more question: “In terms of effective habits that are contributing to your personal growth and development, how would you rate yourself on a scale to ten?” Most people end up rating themselves one or two notches lower for the habit category than they do for personal development—and there is where the greatest obstacle lies. You will rarely, if ever, rise above your habits for success.
The most long-lasting habits are those that lead to a change in your personal identity. Success is much more the result of the person you become, rather than merely the actions you take.
I'm a very detailed person and I have always prided myself on that being a great strength. Recently I was downgraded on my performance review by my boss for being too detailed. Does this seem fair to you?
What you are experiencing is a common situation, where one’s strength ends up going sideways and having a detrimental effect on their performance. Being detailed is a strength until it is not. I always say, it is not our weaknesses that get us into trouble, it is our strengths when they are overused.
When overused, your attention to detail can look a lot like perfectionism—which often catapults you into a state of “analysis paralysis” causing you to miss deadlines or become painstakingly slow performing job tasks. One way to avoid this is to tell yourself there is no such thing as a perfect solution. There are many occasions where an “acceptable” standard is good enough. The stress of having to strive for perfection often leads to overthinking, which in turn leaves you walking on eggshells and kicks you right back into the vicious perfection/paralysis cycle.
Maybe it is time you took to heart, the old adage: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I’m just saying…