Wild About Work on Pinterest!

Truth is stranger than fiction! I took the Pinterest plunge last week and have been busily creating a Wild About Work resource there. Check it out!

I’m creating boards there focusing on a wide range of topics, ranging from self-exploration and self-awareness to mindfulness to physical wellness.

Stop on by. Tell your friends.

Enjoy!

 

The blessing of a jackhammer (and what that has to do with creating work you love)

road construction

There’s a big road construction project going on across the street from me. The last couple days have been filled with wave after wave of jackhammering.

There’s not much to do but tune it out, but every time it stops for an extended period of time I’m struck by how peaceful it feels. The silence is almost palpable.

Every time I experience that silence, I realize how much tension the jackhammer has been causing – both in my mind and my body. The silence feels like a little trip to the spa where that tension just drips away.

Sure, the incessant rattle of metal on concrete has been irritating, but it has also been a blessing.

Huh? How could a jackhammer be a blessing? Let me explain.

Quieting the jackhammer of the mind

Grating as it has been, the noise of the jackhammer has helped me experience the peace of the silence in a way I seldom do when the noise level outside is just at your standard urban hum.

Every time I feel that silence, I think, “Ohhhhh, that’s what’s there when the noise stops!”

That jackhammer and the silence in its absence is a perfect metaphor for what happens in our minds, and the peace and spaciousness that comes if we can quiet that mental jackhammer even just a little bit.

The jackhammer and the profound peace of its absence has been giving me a frame of reference – an experiential analogy, if you will – for what happens at an internal level, both with the noise we create in our minds and the potential for peace when we find ways to turn down the volume.

Recognizing the unacknowledged tension

One of the most striking things about the peace following the noise has been a realization of just how much tension I was holding in response to the jackhammer, even though I thought I was tuning it out.

It’s the same in our minds. Our thoughts create a tension in our minds we often don’t even realize is there. Maybe it’s the shrill underlying hum of a worry about the future, or rumination about what he did, or what she said, or how you screwed up.

Maybe it’s an ongoing battle with what is and an insistence that things should be different. Perhaps it’s just an addiction to going at mach speed without the ability to really relax.

Whatever it is, it frequently creates an underlying tension there that can suck your energy dry.

What jackhammering (and quiet) has to do with loving your work

The goal of getting Wild About Work isn’t just finding work you love. It’s also developing your capacity to fully experience the juice your work offers.

The tension and energy drain created by the jackhammer of our minds has a constricting effect. It makes us smaller and less open. It takes us out of flow, rather than helping us step into it.

The benefit of toning down that internal jackhammer is twofold. First, you reduce the energy drain it causes. And second, the more you can do to quiet that internal jackhammer, the more internal space you have to experience the good stuff.

How to turn down your mental jackhammer

In the Wild About Work model, one of the basic foundational pieces is some kind of grounding practice (or even better, several grounding practices).

There are a bazillion different ways to turn down the volume on that internal jackhammer. I’ll dive more deeply into a few of them in future posts, but for now here’s a handful:

Mindfulness: This is simply pulling yourself back from whatever wild gyrations your mind is doing in the past and/or future and experiencing what is happening right here, right now, without overlaying a story.

Meditation: A regular meditation practice – even just a few minutes per day – can have a profound effect on the noise in your mind. You can use it both as a regular practice and as a way to ground throughout your day.

Breathing: Your breath is a great tool for getting out of your mental noise and into the present moment. Try simply focusing on your breath for sixty seconds at various intervals throughout the day.

With any of these, try to take an approach of softening, rather than effort to make something happen. An effort to relax only contributes more tension to the mix.

Try this: Here’s an experiment for the next week, if you’re up for it. Every once in a while throughout your day, stop and notice. Are you grounded and present? Are you spooled up and tense? Just notice. No judgment.

Then  take ten breaths. Focus your attention on how the breath feels. Connect with how your body moves as you breath in and out. If your mind starts to wander as you do that (it probably will), just come on back to focusing on the breath.

That’s it. Notice, then breathe. Notice, then breathe.

Simple, right?

Let me know how it goes!

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Change your life (seriously!) with a Positive Journal

In 2008, my business was in freefall, and I was broke, broke, broke (not to mention stressed, stressed, stressed). The financial crisis had hit me hard – not many people were thinking about creating careers that lit them up when they were worried about survival.

I was complaining to a friend about my situation and she said something that stopped me in my tracks. “Curt, where is the abundance in your life?”

I realized that I actually had great gobs of abundance in my life – just not the financial version. And yet it was my stress about the financial variety that was taking up my entire field of view. I realized I needed to do something to focus more of my awareness on what was positive in my life.

positive journalI decided to keep a “positive journal.” In the video above, I talk about the experience and the incredibly positive impact it had.

Knowing that any attempt at regular journaling I had made in the past had a limited life span, I decided to create a framework by making it a 30-Day Experiment. I love 30-Day Experiments. They’re long enough to start seeing results, but not so long that night on impossible to stick with it.

My only rule for the journal was that anything I wrote in it had to have a positive focus. Here are the four main areas I explored:

Gratitude: I made it a regular habit to do a deep dive into gratitude. The more I did it, the more I saw reasons to feel grateful, both big and small.

Abundance: First I made a laundry list of all the kinds of abundance I experienced in my life (love, freedom and flexibility, ideas, beauty, health, fun, etc.). Then I started picking them one at a time and asking, “Why is that important? What is the positive impact of that in my life?”

Shifting out of the negative: When I found myself stuck in a negative rumination, or a habitual negative perception, I would sometimes explore how to shift that? How could I look at things from a more positive angle? What are the positive possibilities?

Positive question prompts: I started using open-ended prompts to help me spotlight the positive. For example, “Life is good because _____,” and, “I feel confident and capable when _____.”

So what about the title to this post? Isn’t that just a tad hyperbolic? Well no, in my experience, that was exactly what keeping a Positive Journal did. More accurately, it changed my experience of my life. If you think of your awareness as a pie chart, my daily focus on the positive increased the percentage of that pie that was taken up with seeing the positive.

I went into it with a fairly open mind. I didn’t really know what effect the experiment would have on me. Turns out it was huge. It was actually a key part of being able to emotionally navigate a really challenging time.

Here are some of the outcomes I experienced:

Noticing the positive: What’s good start entering my awareness more naturally. It was already there, but this expanded my awareness of it.The more I paid attention to the positive, the more positive I noticed.

Looking for the positive: Not only did I passively start to notice the good stuff in my life, I also found myself actively scanning to find more. It wasn’t something I put effort into; it just started happening on its own.

Short-circuiting the negative: I started noticing the negative, limiting stories my mind created and automatically looking for alternative, life-enhancing stories.

I highly, highly recommend trying this. Make it a 30-Day Experiment and see what happens. Try to find a regular time each day and dive on in.

If you do it, I would love to know how it goes! Please share your experience in the comments below.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide