Mon, 30 January 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #140
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"Life circumstances have little to do with happiness because much happiness is under your control — the product of your habits and your outlook on life. Happiness is synthetic — you either create it, or you don’t." —Life Altering Awareness
The uncertainties in life are vast. But to errantly ignore the ability to master the certainties is a mistake. Each of us is capable of cultivating a life that is fulfilling and attains true contentment no matter what changes life may bring by honing the tool of Emotional Intelligence. A term created by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer and brought into the mainstream culture by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence, EQ is often the detail forgotten about that upon tending to makes a significant difference in the quality of our lives no matter what the circumstances may be. And the beauty is each of us has the ability to improve our EQ. What is Emotional Intelligence you may be asking? Often broken down into three components and skills: Definition of EQ: 1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others; 2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving; 3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person. Let's look at it another way: EQ is divided into two components the Personal and Social. There are four abilities one will exhibit if they have a high emotional intelligence:
At the foundation of developing a strong EQ is the awareness of a balance that is often discussed here on TSLL. Exploring and understanding ourselves whilst respectfully and thoughtfully navigating the world around us whether in work or play is, when we look at what our lives are all about, what living well should be all about. Striking a healthy balance between ourselves and the relationships we built, and ensuring the relationships we build with ourselves and others are healthy, respectful, thoughtful, loving and kind. EQ is simple in theory, and eventually does become simple in practice, but initially, it will take time, attention and patience to build a muscle that may not have been worked in quite some time or ever. Now, as you will see below, there are many different characteristics. I suggest taking an EQ test (short or long) to determine where your strengths and weaknesses are as most of us may be quite proficient in some areas, but consciously or unconsciously weak in others. And with any eventual success, the first step toward improving is knowing where you need to improve and pat yourself on the back for what you are already doing well. But first, let's look at the carrot. What can be gained by improving our EQ?
Benefits & Characteristics:
The benefit at the top of the list alone is the reason I have been actively researching and continuing to remain curious about the concept of EQ. As I continue to improve and apply the practices of being emotionally intelligent to my personal and professional relationships, I have begun to see remarkable improvements, which is why I want to share with you some tools I have found to work for me, have been suggested by my counselor and shared online via a handful of sources (all are listed at the bottom of the post).
Tools to Enhance EQ:
Emotional Intelligence has been proven to be more vital and a more accurate determinate than IQ when it comes to long-term success in one's quality of life. And the good news is unlike one's IQ, EQ is a learned skill. It is something we can practice and improve upon no matter what our age. However, because it is a skill, as The Atlantic pointed out in 2014, it might also be used for nefarious purposes. In other words, once one becomes extremely proficient at observing and recognizing emotions both in themselves and others they can use the tools to manipulate for self-serving outcomes. However, to counter, as a friend pointed out recently as I was discussion the topic of today's post/episode, if indeed someone is abusing this skill, then are they truly Emotionally Intelligent? Because to return to the original definition of EQ, it involves a vast amount of empathy; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Life continues to reveal to me that quality is something that doesn't just occur, it is cultivated, it is conscious, it is requires consistency. Yes, it might be helpful if the improvements in our lives could occur by simply buying a particular product, a certain type of home or outfit, but the reality is no matter what clothes you wear, what size your home or what type of degree you have, knowing how to understand your emotions and observe them accurately in others followed by healthy action that respects who you are as well as those around you is the yeast of life. If you want to rise, if you want what you value to rise, invest in your emotional intelligence. Because when we do, beautiful moments in the everyday whether we are with others or in our own company will regularly manifest. ~Post Sources: Psychology Today, Mindtools & The Atlantic ~The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Mon, 23 January 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #139
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"When we take the right to rest, when we make rest fulfilling, and when we practice rest through our days and years, we also make our lives richer and more fulfilling." —Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done when You Work Less
Charles Darwin partook in regular 10 miles walks, Alice Munro walked three miles each day, Winston Churchill engaged in painting, Lin-Manual Miranda took his dog each Sunday for walks through the parks in New York City, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ray Bradbury took daily afternoon naps, workers at Bletchley Park during WWII chose chess as a favorite pastime and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court Elena Kagan boxes regularly with her personal trainer.
Initially when the word 'rest' is mentioned, we may think of sitting on the sofa, flipping through channels, but the difference between mindless rest and deliberate rest is that it "enables productivity". When we truly rest, our minds are not actually stagnant. In actuality, we are enabling them to do what they need to do, work through, dispose of, find and reach understandings and connections that when we are active at work, it is unable to do completely.
The difference between mindless and deliberate rest is what you are feeding your brain. Sitting down and watching a thoughtful, engaging film can absolutely be deliberate rest. It may offer ideas and insights that eventually help us make connections we didn't see prior to viewing of the film; the key is to feed our minds well. Give it quality fuel and quality results have the possibility of being produced, even while we sleep.
Recently, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang's new book Rest was released, and contained inside the covers is a wealth of research, seemingly infinite anecdotes from historical and current individuals that reveal the power of deliberate rest being incorporated into our daily lives. Throughout today's post, I will be sharing many different quotes, and unless otherwise attributed, they are pulled from the pages of Rest.
As we begin 2017 and we look to the future we wish to build for ourselves, it may appear as though we have much to do in order to accomplish what we have placed on our list of resolutions or goals. But in order to be successful in whichever destination we pursue, the concept of quality over quantity guides the way. How is that possible? How can we do less and actually attain more? By tossing what the zeitgeist portrays as the "right way" to achieve success out with 2016.
"Today, we treat being stressed and overworked as a badge of honor, a sign of seriousness and commitment; but this is a recent phenomenon, and it inverts traditional ideas of how leaders and professions should behave under pressure. For most of history, leaders were supposed to appear calm and unhurried; success began with self-mastery and self-control."
~For more in-depth discussion on each of the points discussed below, be sure to tune in to the podcast.
1. Helps to organize your life
2. Cultivates calm in your life
4. Increases your confidence
5. Increases emotional intelligence and engagement
6. More time is given as boundaries are made firm and clear
8. Live a long, healthy, invigorating life
9. Helps you live a simply luxurious life
"It creates a life that's rewarding while it's lived, a life that has purpose and pleasure, work and reward, in equal measure. And that life feels complete and well-spent at the end."
How to welcome deliberate rest into your life:
1. Make rest a priority
"Taking rest seriously also helps bring more of your life into clearer focus."
2. Spend only 4-5 hours each day doing strenuous work
3. Establish a consist morning routine
"My morning is all about stilling the outside world so my mind can soar." —Scott Adams, the illustrator and creator of the comic strip Dilbert
4. Set clear boundaries between work and rest
"A day that starts with work creates rest that can be enjoyed without guilt. When you start early, the rest you take is the rest you've earned."
5. Take regular walks
6. Nap regularly and nap well
"The most obvious benefits of napping is that it increases alertness and decreases fatigue . . . but regular naps have other benefits . . . improve memory . . . [and] consolidate things you've just learned."
7. Enjoy a regular, deep night's sleep
8. Detach and take that vacation
9. Exercise regularly
"At first, researchers mainly investigated the benefits of exercise for healthy aging, but studies now show that for people of any age, gender, or athletic ability, exercise can increase brain power, boost intelligence, and provide the stamina and psychological resilience necessary to do creative work."
10. Cultivate a hobby you love and that challenges you
Perhaps when you read #2 on the list above, you said to yourself, nope, that will never happen, not in my world, not in the job I have to do every day to earn my paycheck. And on the surface, you are absolutely correct. But what if you could look at the job you go to each day and redesign your day? What if you could schedule your day so that you did tend to the most strenuous demands at the beginning and then schedule meetings, projects and activities toward the tail-end that allowed you to not tax your mind directly as much?
Understandably, what job you do and for whom you work and the expectations will play a significant role. What I appreciated upon reading Rest is that it validated what I already felt regarding the productivity of my work. When I worked at my best, when I felt my most exhausted, it gave me a reason as to why. It helped me understand my mind, my body and the benefits of what I am doing and what I need to make sure I continue to do and what I can begin to let go of as it no longer serves me or the quality of life I am trying to cultivate.
Saying no to what no longer serves the simply luxurious life you are building becomes easier when we have science to explain what works best, but we also have to understand what type of life we want to build, and when we know that and believe it to our core, the saying of "no" and the incorporation of deliberate rest into our lives becomes far easier. And that is when our lives begin to truly blossom.
We don't have to look busy to gain approval. The gift of living well is that our lives often will look paradoxical: How can she/they/he live such a life and not be exhausted/stressed and have time to enjoy, play and partake in the pleasures as well? But the reality is, it is indeed possible when we choose to live consciously and thoughtfully.
"A life that focuses on what matters most, makes time for rest, and declines unnecessary distractions may look simple on the outside, but from the inside it is rich and fulfilling."
Deliberate rest paired with deliberate work is a partnership: "One provides the means to live, the other gives meaning to life".
"When we treat rest as work's equal and partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time and help us achieve more while working less."
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Image: Vogue UK
Mon, 16 January 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #138
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"Enough is the quality of having everything you need and want but nothing in excess, nothing that burdens you." —Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life
While numerically, there isn't a magic number equated to having enough money due to a myriad of variables, it may seem at first impossible to answer the question at all. However, there are fundamental questions to ask yourself and habits to bring into your daily living that will help you inch ever closer to the number that is right for you.
1. Let go of comparisons
"Comparing ourselves to others is essentially a coping mechanism for our own insecurities." —Rachel Cruze of Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want
Now more than ever as we live in a world where lives of anyone from anywhere are displayed on social media, refraining from comparing our lives to others' is a mental exercise in willpower. And as we know willpower is finite. A dependable way to combat comparison is to become clear about your own life's path. Become clear about what excites you, what you want to improve upon and create a vision for your life. And then become courageous. Read more about how you can live courageously and the benefits, including eliminating the need for comparison, doing so will invite into your life.
2. Debt is eliminated (within reason)
Debt is a broad term. Many of us, if we own a house, will have a mortgage, and business debt is necessary at different periods of a venture. However, personal credit card debt should be at zero. If you can look at your balances and know you can pay them off in full each month without denting your monthly living budget, your finances are in great order.
3. Live within your means
A quote that upon first reading has ever since been part of my vocabulary and approach to money was shared by Suze Orman, "I think the nicest thing you can say about a woman is that she lives well, and she lives below her means." And as we know our means will shift, change and hopefully grow from year to year. As was discussed in last week's Why Not . . . ? post, conducting a financial check-in each year is a great way to determine if you are spending too much or not enough in certain parts of your budget in order to live the life you want.
4. Monthly savings goal exceeds expectations
Currently I am saving for a down payment, and with this goal in mind, I have designated that a certain amount will be put into my money market account each month. When I am able to exceed my target amount, I cannot help but do a little dance. According to financial experts, this is a good sign that you are on your way to having enough money.
5. Spending wisely
Take a moment and check your current spending habits with habits from five years ago. Are you spending more? Spending less? Spending more wisely? Staying within your budget? The key reason to reflect regularly is to spend consciously. If you see that your spending has increased, ask yourself why. Then ask yourself, is it necessary? Am I able to spend more? Living well is not a bad thing to do. The key is to make sure you can afford to do so.
6. Proper attention is being paid to retirement savings
While there is no magic formula for retirement savings, the one thing that won't work is doing nothing. The first thing to do is begin saving yesterday. I know that may be unnecessary to say, but begin now if you haven't already. Then sit down and examine how much you will indeed need to retire so that you can have a goal and then create a plan to make it happen. I have shared many money and specifically retirement savings related posts here in TSLL "Money" archives, be sure to have a look here.
7. Adherence to a monthly budget that supports the life you want to build and live
Massachusetts senator and former Harvard bankruptcy law professor Elizabeth Warren suggested organizing one's monthly budget around these percentages: "Spend 50 percent on needs, 30 percent on wants and 20 percent on savings" (NYTimes). Now you may have to dip into your wants for your needs from time to time depending upon where you live and during different periods of your life, but saving 15-20 percent for retirement, emergency, dreams & vacations is a must for peace of mind and the ability to respond to life's unexpected hurdles and adventures. Similarly, diligently keeping your housing payment (rent or mortgage) to 33% is quite savvy. (Click here to view a simple budget spreadsheet to organize both mandatory and discretionary spending.)
It has been debated that we, as humans have a tendency to move away unconsciously from achieving "enough" rather than towards it (Tim Maurer Simple Money). However, I would argue that it is a choice, it is an appreciation for what moving towards having enough cultivate in our lives which will then make it all the more attractive once we arrive at our destination. The essential premise to making the shift is understanding the essential questions and the necessary answers to those questions, as well as the habits we need to incorporate into our lives, and it really is quite simple as shared above. Thank you for stopping by and may 2017 be your most financially secure year yet.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~La La Land
~winner of the record setting seven Golden Globes this year: Best Musical/Comedy, Best Actor, Best Actress, Original Song, Score, Director and Screenplay
~View and listen to the award winning original song, City of Stars here
I will profess honestly, I am not someone who gravitates towards musicals, and as Refinery29 frankly reminds that's because La La Land isn't a true musical, which might be why I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down for two hours to absorb the colorful sets, simple and thoughtful love story and a reminder to never cease the journey to reach your dreams. However, respectfully, it is a musical. It is a modern musical. Some have compared it to a long list of musicals from the mid-twentieth century, and while particular aspects and scenes were undoubtedly inspired by revered musicals in the past, La La Land is a 21st century musical. It harkens back to the past with coupled song and dance numbers, but it grabs the future with technology's magic and whimsy.
The argument from some is that Emma Stone did not know how to dance, but we must keep in mind neither did Debbie Reynolds when she was cast for Singing in the Rain; however, Reynolds worked her tail off to keep up with an impossibly high talent - Gene Kelly - and executed her role exquisitely. Similar to Stone, it was Reynolds' star power, her authentic joie de vivre and spark that grabbed the audience. Had any dancer been paired with Kelly simply because they could dance, the movie would not have been balanced or as engaging. The woman, who she is, what she exudes, matters as much as her dance steps. Stone holds her own with the dancing, but much like Reynolds, it is her charisma, her youthfulness and her tenacity that bring her character Mia to life. Ryan Gosling is Ryan Gosling. Movie producers what to sell tickets, and in order to sell tickets there must be chemistry on the screen. Stone and Gosling, paired together for the third time, have undeniable chemistry, and it worked to tell the tale of two passionate individuals enamored with each other but also their dreams to realize what they were ardently passionate about.
I recommend highly that you watch this film in the theater for the reasons New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane suggests: the full effect of the scenery, colors and sets as well as the sound system. Let yourself escape.
~Note: In the taped episode, I incorrectly misspoke and called Gene Kelly Fred Astaire.
Mon, 9 January 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #137
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
A work of art gazed upon and appreciated by millions, created by the hands of a talented often ahead-of-their-time individual dedicated hours, perhaps months to their creation. A full and luscious garden, cultivated over years of planning, tending and careful editing and replenishing. A relationship built on admiration, truth and kindness, strengthening with time, patience and careful attention. The foundation for living simply luxuriously begins with the concept of a life of quality over quantity in all arenas of our lives. It is an understanding that to build our lives on superficial expectations that appease the outside world whether for appearances or applause is to leave us living in a shell which provides a lack of intimate comfort and joy. And so, as I have been observing ever more reassuringly and mentioned in the last episode of 2016, it is a conscious decision to live a life of quality that will in time, gradually, deepen the life you have the opportunity to experience. Whether it's choosing to live in a town or community that may be more expensive and therefore take more time to save up to live in, as well as forcing you to downsize, but ultimately brings you more peace of mind, an ease to be yourself and those you love to blossom, or choosing to enjoy food that your body needs and rise to the abilities it is capable of rather than reach for what is expedient and temporarily satiating, a life of quality is enriching. But as you may have noticed in both of these examples, it takes a conscious awareness of what you need and why you're doing what you're doing. Clarity, focus and preparation are key, but these investments pay off. How do we then, as we step into 2017, welcome in more quality reduce the quantity that tempers what is possible? As I mentioned here, it requires of each of us to take a simple, but significant approach, to not take on too much at once, but rather one item at a time. So why not take it month by month? Inspired by a few of my resolutions for the year, I contemplated how I could be most successful, and this is what I've come up with. Each month one idea, task or concept will be the focus and I will check in regularly to share how I am doing, and you too can share your journey. The first month of January, since so many of our resolutions tend to reflect on how well or poorly we ate during the holiday season and we want to feel better, not merely look better, we'll be tasked with the following:
~Reduce or eliminate entirely one food or food type that does not serve you well
I've chosen to leave this month quite broad because we all have our triggers. We all know what is helping and what is hurting, what is a weakness and what is easy to walk away from. I have chosen sugar. For one month I am going to eat in such a way that eliminates refined sugars (not natural sugars such as fruit). Recognizing that not all situations that involve food will be under my control (dining at others' homes, work events, etc.), the goal is to eliminate, but there may be lapses. However, I want to observe how I feel as I refrain from eating refined sugars. After reading about a recently released book, The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes, my challenge was solidified. For one month, let's see what happens. Having done this in the past, but not as publicly, I remember the experience being very positive in a variety of ways (better mood, a fierce ability to discern sugar in unexpected items - ketchup, cheap chocolate, etc.), and I look forward to seeing if I can observe the same and perhaps more observations that cultivate more quality regarding my health and overall everyday routine. Over the holiday I gradually began the reduction, as if to wean myself off of the refined carbohydrates, and in just one week, I felt better in my body. So we'll see how it goes. I will check in on Wednesday January 18th to share my progress, successes and oopses. I look forward to hearing what you have chosen to reduce or eliminate as well and learning how the journey is going on the 18th. Each month we'll tackle one item to reduce or eliminate in our lives, as a way to reduce the quantity and enhance the quality. Below is a look at year.
~Curtailing the negative commentary (internal and external)
~13 Life Truths to Remember About Making Progress With so much that is worth attaining and welcoming into our lives, time and attention is needed to be successful. Patience is required. And while sometimes we just want to pounce, so long as we are assured that the path we are on is the right one, we can allow events, our health, our relationships to progress at their natural pace. After all, we first need to know what we want to plant in our garden, then we must plant it followed by much patience, but confidence knowing that we have invested wisely, and in its own time, it will bloom and then we will be able to savor all the goodness. I look forward to stepping into this journey and sharing my experience with you and hearing about yours. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. ~The Simply Luxurious Life Mission Statement
~Images: (1) Portland's Japanese Garden (2) my mother's garden full of dahlias (3) Norman & Oscar along the Oregon coast during a special trip this past fall 2017.
Mon, 2 January 2017
We are not born knowing how to love well. We learn by observing those who raise us, observing the world we are born into and by what we read, view and absorb. The catch is not all of us are watching how to love well. Some of us will have a distorted view, some of us will be limited by what we see while others will observe healthy, kind, thoughtful ways of loving. While there are many wonderful ways to express love, there are essential components, and that is what we'll be discussing today. And if as an adult you have come to discover the models you observed were not healthy, you can absolutely change and become a student again learning how to love well, and thereby enriching your life moving forward.
In this week's Petit Plaisir, a wonderful newly released book by best-selling author Will Schwalbe Books for Living.