Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dare to Take the Self-Care Test

Taking care of yourself and being responsible for your happiness are key Mixonian themes that resonate with so many readers. A few have asked, how can you assess your own level of self care?

Answer the following questions and then see the incredibly insightful explanation below.

1. Do you feel healthy and energetic, though not necessarily hyperactive?

2. Do you frequently take pain medication?

3. Most of the time, do you feel relaxed about things?

4. Most of the time, do you feel optimistic?

5. Do you feel comfortable with what you do for others, compared to what they do for you?

Question 1: Do you feel healthy and energetic, though not necessarily hyperactive?

If you feel healthy, and fairly energetic, that is good. That is how you should feel. Keep it up. Otherwise, see the explanation below the next question.

Question 2: Do you frequently take pain medication?

If you frequently take pain relief for headaches or other body aches, you may be stressed out. Probably it's a good idea to work on taking better care of yourself, or think about how to be really nice to yourself.

Question 3: Most of the time, do you feel relaxed about things?

If you mostly feel relaxed, you're in good shape. If you're uptight, stressed out, you need to take action. Allow Mixonian to remind you that if you don't take really good care of yourself, it's unlikely that someone else will. Furthermore, the way you treat yourself tells others how to treat you.

Question 4: Most of the time, do you feel optimistic?

Feeling optimistic, most of the time, is the normal and the ideal state. If you are worried about future events or conditions, you have taken responsibility for things that are beyond your control and maybe you should focus more on things more clearly within your circle of influence.

Question 5: Do you feel comfortable with what you do for others, compared to what they do for you?

Not that you're keeping score, this question revolves around feeling appreciated. Mixonian has heard many sad tales of people doing for others, who in turn, do not show appreciation. If your appreciation factor is wobbly, the first thing you need to do is to appreciate yourself. Then take a fresh look at the things you do for others. If these tasks and favors are optional, only do them if you absolutely want to, with no expectation for a payback of gratitude. If you must do the thing, like changing baby's diapers, just do it as one of those things that has to be done. Doing it is the pay-off, consider the consequences of not changing the diapers!

Mixonian wishes all a restful Labor Day Monday.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pay Attention!

By Marci Shimoff

Well, the Olympics are over. Now I can finally get to bed before midnight! (I missed that 10 p.m. angel train many times in the past few weeks while glued to those events.)

I was in awe of the athletes—not only because of their extraordinary talent, but also because of their hearts and souls. Clearly what separates the best isn’t only physical prowess, but the mastery of their thoughts and emotions, as well.

I think we can learn a lot from these remarkable people—we can even apply the principles behind their mastery to raising our own level of happiness.

For example, these athletes have an amazing ability to be fully present in the moment. As they performed, I doubt any of them worried about how they looked in a swimsuit or thought about what they’d be having for dinner that evening.

All their attention was fully focused in the NOW!

It reminded me of a fascinating interview I did recently with Dr. Ellen Langer, a psychology professor at Harvard, for my upcoming PBS show on happiness, called Happy for No Reason (which airs in many cities starting September 6—we’ll send the schedule out very soon).

Ellen has done extensive research on mindfulness, the ability to be fully present and attentive to what is happening in the moment. She tells a story about a study with dolphins and their trainers.

Researchers divided the trainers into two groups as they trained their dolphins. They instructed trainers in the “mindless” group to think only about what they already knew about their dolphins, thus making them more focused on the past and less attentive in the moment during the training sessions.

They instructed trainers in the “mindful” group to think about what was new or different about their dolphins that they hadn’t noticed before, as a way to help the trainers stay more present in the moment during training.

The results were fascinating. The dolphins with “mindful” trainers actually swam faster toward their trainers and stayed with them longer than did the dolphins in the “mindless” group of trainers. Mindfulness made the trainers more attractive to their dolphins.

When you practice being more mindfully present in the moment, you, too, will be more engaging and attractive to be around—and you will experience more joy.

For the next few weeks, try this experiment:

Any time you notice yourself drifting into thoughts about the past or future, switch gears. Pretend you are an investigative reporter, and ask yourself what is unique or special about that particular moment. Pay attention to the details of the moment and the sensations you have, and experience appreciation for that moment.

How would your life feel and be different if you were more present and attentive?

Have a dedicated intention to be more conscious, more present, and see where it takes you. Think of this as your training—for the gold medal in happiness!

Marci Shimoff is a celebrated transformational leader
and #1 New York Times best-selling author. To learn
more of her powerful techniques for establishing deep
and authentic happiness and well-being, visit here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Forgiveness Foe

You already know that you need to forgive others. And you've probably done so, many times. But still, that nasty feeling of hurt can creep up on you, when you least expect it or want it.

The research says, keep working on it.

ECU's own Kathleen Row, chair of the psychology department, studies the relationship between a person's health, his ability to forgive, and spirituality.

Her research shows that people who find it easier to forgive enjoy healthier levels of blood pressure and heart rate recovery. She compares unforgiveness with carrying a heavy sack on your back; it literally weighs you down.

Former divorce lawyer and author, Roger Lanphear, provides practical help for forgiving in his book, Wealth Consciousness. He argues that holding a grudge invite suffering, poverty, and injustice into your life.

Everything that happens to you has an eventual link to something positive; it's your job to look for it. While we usually don't see the silver lining in our dark cloud until later, simply knowing that it will appear can help. Actively contemplating positive results from your hurts helps you get over them.

Lanphear writes it this way, "Life is for giving love. Life is FOR GIVING love."

When you feel resentment or unforgiveness beginning to show its ugly head, simply say to yourself, "I love you, I'm sorry, Please forgive me. Thank You." You can say this even if you see that you did NOTHING to provoke the other person's negative action.

Forgive faster. It's for you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Your Heroes Explain You

In the recently published Heroes in a Global World, Lance Strate from Fordham University writes, "Heroes are our ideal selves, the selves that inspire us, the selves that we aspire to, the selves that we desire" (19).

Whom do you admire, seek to be like? Why?

Well, the good news is that all of the qualities you admire in another person, are already present in yourself. You may want to polish them up a bit, but you've got the stuff in your own self.

Make a short list of your personal heroes/heroines and write down a quality for which you admire in each. Here are some samples, in random order:

Princess Diana: Her beauty and charm are legendary, yet she was never fully accepted by her husband or in-laws. Wonderfully chic.

Francis de Sales: An elegant nobleman from the Renaissance, he is the patron saint of writers, journalists, and educators because of his wonderful way with gentle rhetoric and education-based marketing of the Catholic faith.

Oprah: Rags to riches, she is known for her outrageous generosity and personal warmth.

Julia Cameron: She overcame her alcoholism, lost loves, and became a prolific writer across genres, creativity master and entrepreneur.

Joe Vitale: A prolific writer (do we sense a common theme here?) who bases his success in marketing and writing on spiritual principles.

Christine Kane: Remarkably she combines her love for writing and performing music, with writing and teaching, all while being a successful entrepreneur.

Winston Churchill: An incredible class act in statesmanship, a powerful rhetor (and inspiring writer).

Kenneth Burke: His influence in scholarship is significant across several disciplines, yet he dropped out of college. He decided early on to be a genius and went on to do so.

Wayne Dyer: A significant philosopher in our time, the most remarkable thing about this man is that he is the father of 8 children and still married to his original wife.

To continue Strate's writing on this:

...[O]ur heroes shape our sense of self, and color the ways that we interpret our identities. They teach us how to be the heroes of our own life-stories, how to live heroically. And we desperately need to live heroically, as psychoanalyst Ernest Becker (1971, 1973) explained, because of the heavy price we pay for the unique gift of human consciousness (19).

Fortunately, heroes don't have to be perfect, and neither do we.

National Bring a Dragon to Work Day

The working title for this post was "Bring Barney to Work" but then I realized that Barney is a dinosaur, not a dragon. I think.

Kenneth Burke defined human beings as "symbol using/misusing animals." For even as we love clarity, we love and live symbols even more.

People used symbols to share meaning long before they knew how to read and write. Probably our love of symbols and our desire to enhance our individuality is what's driving the tattoo industry. And that must be a thriving business, judging from the "standing room only" crowd just spotted at a local tattoo salon.

Symbols not only make meaning, they can make tons of money. Being a successful corporation today is virtually synonymous with leveraging symbols through branding and advertising. If you doubt the monetary value of Nike's swoosh, try borrowing that trademark to make money yourself and see how quickly you get sued! :-)

My mother assigned a symbol as a personal ensign to each of her four children when they were quite young: a swan, a bear, a lion, and a butterfly. We were reminded from time to time of the meanings of each symbol, and there were always several of these visual reminders in our rooms. Each of us still feels a strong attachment to our animal-symbol; it's a reminder of our unchanging essence from childhood.

You can use symbols to enrich your workspace, to make it more you and more representative of your values. It's potentially inspiring.

Take a minute and think what to you want qualities to you want to foster in your workspace (or your home). These could include abundance, kindness, creativity, balance, friendship, completion, self-care/appreciation among others.

Decide on two or three values with which you want to identify. You can add more later.

Now you have a great excuse to take a trip to a dollar store or Wal-Mart or some similar place, to shop for symbols to place as reminders in your own workspace.

Here are some symbolic suggestions. Feel free to assign your own meaning to different symbols.

Heart: for love, friendship.

Dragon: Chinese symbol for creativity, according to Julian Cameron.

Smiley face: happiness, self-acceptance.

Hammer: commitment to completion.

Unicorn: magic or creativity.

Bee: Mary Kay Ash used this animal to represent doing the impossible.

Swan: grace under pressure, elegance while working.

Fence: boundaries

The possibilities are infinite, Mixonian would love to know which symbols speak to you.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How to Think Like a Winner: Secrets of a Three-Time Olympian

What would your life be like if failure was not an option? Would you like to perform at your peak more often? What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

In the next few minutes you will learn how I programed my mind to make my Olympic Dream come true three times! You will learn techniques that can change your life. So here we go...

Four years after making a decision to begin training for the Olympics, I had the honor of competing in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in the luge. I went on to compete in the 1992 Albertville Olympics and I just competed in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics at the age of 39.

How does someone who did not even take up the sport of luge until he was 22 become a Three-Time Olympian? As I tell thousands of people in my speeches, I'm not a big shot. I'm just a little shot that keeps on shooting. I'm proof that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things if they will just put the right things into their minds.

Olympic Athletes consistently and persistently use specialized techniques to program their minds to achieve peak performance. The following simple techniques performed consistently over a period of time will change your outlook in life and ultimately your outcomes.

Acquire the Mindset of Winners.

If you adopt these beliefs, you will win much more often.

1 - Failure does Not Exist.

Just because I crashed the last five times on the luge track does not mean I'll crash the next time. Every time I come down that track I am a better racer because I have more experience than the time before.

When Thomas Edison was trying to find the right filament to make the light bulb work, a reporter asked him how it felt to have failed thousands of times. Edison said he hadn't failed. He just discovered thousands of materials that didn't work.

There is no such thing as failure. You either get the desired outcome, or you learn. No matter what the result, you win. The past does not equal the future.

By thinking this way, discouragement can't get a foothold in your mind.

2 - If It Is To Be It Is Up To Me!

Every single one of the people in the biographies I read overcame some major challenge. Struggling through those challenges is what made them great. A piece of coal has to experience a huge amount of heat and pressure in order to become a diamond. We are no different. Every time we face a challenge we have a choice to make. Will we get bitter or better? Decide to get better. Face the challenge. It's there to make you stronger. You will need that strength further up the road when you'll be facing even bigger challenges.

Don't ever make excuses. Whenever you make an excuse you are giving up control. Rationalizing is telling yourself "rational lies".

Believe that you are in charge of your life. You are totally responsible. You create your results. You are in control of your life. You have the power to change your circumstances.

3- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

When I decided to learn the luge I told everyone I was aiming for the Olympics. I wanted to put myself in a position where it would be very difficult to quit.

When I first went to Lake Placid, I honestly didn't know what I was getting into. I took a leap of faith and believed the net would appear. I've taken a couple of thousand luge runs in my career and I've faced fear before every run. What kept me going? The Olympic Dream. The desire to become an Olympian gave me the courage to face my fears.

Commit to stretching. Put yourself on the line. Commit to do things beyond your current abilities. That's how you grow. That's how you get better and stronger.

4 - Just do it!

When the luge team went to a new track we would walk the track with the coach. We would make a game plan about the best way to drive the track. I then visualized and mentally rehearsed taking the run many times, and finally I had to hop on the sled and go down the mountain. The first few runs are always pretty brutal, but as we learn the track, our times improve dramatically.

Scary? Very. But it's the price I paid to get to the Olympics.

Commit to act even if you don't know everything. You don't wait till all the lights are green before taking a road trip. If you wait until you know everything before acting, you'll never do anything. Take a chance. Act on faith.

5 - Be True to Yourself.

Always act from Personal Integrity. Be true to yourself. If it does not feel right in your gut, don't do it. Don't ever go against your personal values. No victory is worth not being able to look yourself in the mirror.

6 - There is Always a Way if You Don't Quit!

Robert Schuller says, "Mental toughness is developed through consistency of effort."

On the road to the Olympics, many athletes much faster than me quit along the way. How do you think they felt when they watched the Olympics on TV? The price of getting your dream is big but the pain of regret is hundreds of times bigger.

Commitment is the glue that holds everything together. Commitment is the most powerful tool you have as a human being. Commit to practice until you are good. Even if you fear what it takes to get to your goal (as I feared the luge), do it anyways. Commitment will pull you through.

Commit to do whatever it takes (as long as it is moral, legal and ethical) to succeed.

The difference between people is there are those who are interested and there are those who are committed. The key to success in life is going from being interested to being committed. Once you are committed you will produce results. At the point of commitment, you mentally "burn all the bridges" and you do whatever it takes to make it happen. THAT'S when you become unstoppable!

Chase your dream, go for the gold, and never ever quit.

A peak performance expert, Ruben Gonzalez speaks on the principles of success he followed on the road to the Olympics. Ruben inspires and equips his audiences to "Go for the Gold" in life.

Ruben Gonzalez - Olympian, Peak Performance Expert, Speaker 832-689-8282

"Chase your dream. Never, ever give up."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Education-Based Marketing

Did you know that 25% of problems in business are the result of ineffective communication? Unclear messages lead to costly errors in production, distribution, sales, marketing, you name it. Research shows that companies value communication skills over ethics, almost as much as they appreciate the "real" stuff you do for them.

That's why businesses hire and even you can use communication experts and Mixonian blog to improve overall productivity, raise morale, be bodacious, and show more style....all through more clear communication.

That's education-based marketing for you.

If you're like a lot of people, you want to sell yourself or your product, but you harbor the secret fear of being or becoming an obnoxious salesperson. Here is strategy shows a way out, to sell and maintain your self-respect. It's another gem in Jill Lublin's latest book, Get Noticed, Get Referrals.

Lublin cites work by Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine for this sales and marketing strategy. This means you teach people about the context for your service or product, and how it solves problems for your customers. This is her take on education-based marketing:

Education-based marketing works because people are barraged constantly with sales pitches, arm-twisting, and BS. They've heard every promise and every claim and want to decide for themselves. they want enough information to make their own decisions, so give them what they want (107).

Holmes suggests beginning any presentation with research on the prospect's industry. You not only impress the audience with your research, but you make it more obvious how much they need your product or service. He gives this example:

"We've conducted research and have developed a success program for restaurants. Are you familiar with it?" When they answer "no," reply, "We found five reasons why restaurants fail and seven reasons why they succeed. Would you be interested in seeing that information?" (107).

This holistic sales strategy naturally builds an involved relationship. The salesperson becomes a multifaceted teacher, not simply an arm-twisting signature hunter. Take the time to research your prospect and you'll be able to teach yourself into a productive, win-win relationship.

Get Help from the People on Your Side

Listen closely. This is a phenomenal strategy to get more of what you want, whether it's a better job, more sales, your paintings in more galleries, or more concert opportunities.

This great idea comes from Jill Lublin's book, Get Noticed, Get Referrals, but she credits the idea to Mark LeBlanc. Both Jill Lublin and Mark LeBlanc recommend this practice for getting referrals.

It's called an Advocate List.

Write down the names of the 25 most important people in your life who are in a position to affect your business. These are your top advocates. Your strategy is to develop a way to contact each one each month, just to remind them of you and what you can do. This is not the time to ask for referrals. These are extremely busy people and you're just making a friendly connection.

Each month send them something tiny: a postcard, a newsletter, a cartoon, an article, a chocolate bar, a personal note. The idea is to keep in touch in a way that reminds people of your business.

You could also phone, fax, mail or e-mail your advocates. It's nice to catch up with people.

Lublin advises to keep your list strong and not to expand beyond 25 people. She also maintains a larger alliance list made up of friends, associates, and business contacts whom she contacts less frequently, on a quarterly basis.

If you're new in business, review your list every quarter, otherwise go over it each year to add and subtract names.

People want to help you; make it easier for them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Open the Little Gifts in Your Life

The absolute best way to be happy right now is to see yourself as someone with a grateful heart. Mixonian recommends starting each day writing down, or thinking about, 5 wonderful things in life as it is presently constituted. Julia Cameron advises to practice accepting gifts in whatever form they come to you.

You may have noticed that on the day-to-day basis, life is full of surprises, while in the longer run, things tend to turn out as we expected.

Sometimes we get so involved in the major goals we're working on, we fail to see and enjoy the little gifts that show up in our lives. One way to see these gifts is to look for progress or baby steps, instead of having a narrow focus on the ultimate accomplishment.

Let's say, for example, Eunice has the goal of getting fine new appliances for her kitchen. She wants the best, and surely she will have it. But in the meantime, her cruddy old refrigerator breaks down and she is forced to buy a new one.

To make the situation more interesting, she wants a top-brand refrigerator, she needs a new one right now, but doesn't have the finances to get the one she wants. Is this a failure? A disappointment?

Absolutely not. She buys the model she can afford, it is surely somewhat better than the old clunker, and she celebrates a step in the right direction!

In her book, The Vein of Gold, creative Cameron suggests an exercise to help you welcome unexpected gifts in your life:

Write down the phrase, "It would be really nice if_________________" twenty times. Put the list where you see it regularly.

Be alert for gifts that arrive in response to this Wish List! Celebrate baby steps, just as we celebrate a baby's early steps, even as he repeatedly falls on his bottom.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Your Personal Elevator Pitch

The "elevator speech" is a helpful and generative response to everyone's hyperbusyness. It is a brief, carefully-constructed statement about the most important information about you (what you do best), your company, and your products, or the projects you're working on.

Developing your elevator pitch crystallizes first in your own mind, and then for others, the most important information about your value or competitive edge into a well-organized, delicious sentence or two or three of compelling information for the people you want to reach.

The idea behind the elevator speech is that—by accident—you run into Ms. Big in an elevator on the 25th floor. She asks what you do. You have an opportunity to give it your best shot before getting to the ground floor where you both get off. When you arrive at the lobby, she now knows everything of importance about what you do for a living, and why it is valuable to her and her company.

If you think you can already communicate your sales message clearly and concisely without doing this exercise, try doing it your way with a disinterested third party, and see how you feel about it. Obviously, it's not for you to share with your friends and co-workers who already know you quite well - it's a tool of introduction.

The elevator speech is a very powerful because it's concise and you've worked on it to refine your thinking.

Here are the six basic questions to address in your elevator speech:

What is your product/service/solution?

Who is the customer it is intended for?

What need or problem does it address?

What does it do?

How does it work and what are the benefits to me?

Why are you different and better than others?

What's your elevator pitch? If you live in a rural area where there are no elevators, think of it as your "walk down the hall" pitch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Top 8 Email Practices

If you're like most professionals, you use e-mail all the time. With email, you don’t have to worry about catching a person at an inconvenient time, or wait for her to get off the phone with someone else, you simply hit “send” and it’s off. According to a Robert Half International survey, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of executives polled prefer e-mail over other forms of communication.

While everyone is in a hurry, sending email messages without much thought can easily give the wrong, sometimes way wrong, message. Project the right image with your message using these top 8 e-mail practices:

1. A precise subject line. The subject line lets the person receiving the message know what it's about, and also provides him or her with a reason to read it. Some people -- and your boss is probably one of them -- get hundreds of e-mails each day and may not have the time to open each of them. The subject line acts as the window into the message and can also indicate its level of urgency, so be specific.

2. A professional sign-off. A weak signature is like a clammy handshake. Yuck. Your email signature should include your e-mail address, physical work address and phone number. These details give recipients multiple means of contacting you. Remember that your email may well be forwarded to people who have no idea who you are, so this information is especially important.

3. Real English without ALL CAPS. Most people take an extremely, perhaps too casual approach when using e-mail. But your writing reflects your professional self, so take the time to craft complete sentences, use proper grammar and check your spelling. And don't depend solely on your computer's spell-check function; review your e-mail carefully before sending it.

4. Get to the point. Keep it short, but complete. Brief sentences and short paragraphs are best. However, make sure you include everything that’s necessary and you don’t want to appear curt.

5. When in doubt, leave it out. Remember email messages leave out over 90% of the content. There’s no facial expression and little, if any, context. Any attempt at humor may be read as something offensive or inappropriate. If you're not sure how something you wrote will be interpreted, leave it out. Keep this in mind with large attachments, send massive files only to people who absolutely need them.

6. Double-check your recipients. It’s far too easy to send the message to the totally wrong person, especially if several of your contacts have the same first name. Be careful about the recipients of your email.

7. Separate business and pleasure. When the information is confidential or sensitive, including personal information in a professional context could be dangerous. If you use your work e-mail account, the message should be business-related. Get familiar with your organization's e-mail policy, and have your friends send non-work-related e-mail to your personal account.

8. Consider using other communication media. If you find yourself typing a long message in order to avoid confusion, it’s probably better to get on the phone. Same goes for a message that you don’t want forwarded. E-mail is best suited for quick and emotion-free communication

With e-mail correspondence becoming increasingly important in the workplace, you can only benefit from learning how to craft an effective message. So keep the above tips in mind the next time you sit down at the keyboard.

Mixonian has two other posts about getting email right on July 20 and July 22. Email's important, take advantage to get your best message out.

The Unexpected Reality about Charisma

If you're like most people, you find yourself unexplicably drawn towards charismatic leaders who possess supernatural powers and who want to help you.

Ooops, not you guys, Mixonian readers are not like that. Mixonian would not expect her readers to be drawn to say, television evangelists who claim to be channeling God to them. Or politicians who promise to solve all their problems from excess body hair to underachieving investments to failing eyesight.

Huh? Well, it's another take on "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Well, the reality about charisma is that it is not an innate quality in a person. In other words, all babies are charismatic, that is, until they turn two. The research is clear in that charisma is something people project onto a person, it exists exclusively within a relationship.

The same way a leader cannot exist without followers, a charismatic person cannot exist unless people attach themselves to one. People who feel that the normal way of living is not working out anymore, for example, a lot of German people after World War II, or many Venezuelans during the 1990s, look for someone to help them resolve their perceived crises.

Psychologists call this "projection" and it's something to think about in your own life. You may not be sending your life savings to a media evangelist, or truly expecting elected officials to ever resolve anything, but you may be projecting negative qualities onto the people who annoy you.

Is Gertrude really mean, or is your paradigm, or personal life drama, involve mean bosses as key characters? Is Bubba really that stupid, or is his being so helping you explain certain situations to yourself?

The practical idea from this is to question your assumptions about irritating people. Maybe Edna is a control freak, or maybe you've taught her to control you.

The next time you see something negative in a person, see if you can imagine the opposite quality in that person. Pretend Gertrude is obsequious, that Bubba is brilliant and Edna is relaxed. You could open up some interesting possibilities, even if it's only a good laugh.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Power Vocabulary

Because language not only describes reality but helps form our reality, knowing more words gives you more architectural power to build your life. Here are some cool words to refresh your memory, not in alphabetical order:

1. zoomorphic: of or pertaining to a deity or other being conceived of as having the form of an animal.

Miranda fears the store will not allow her brother to enter because he's so zoomorphic and most stores don't allow pets inside.

2. eponymous: giving one's name to a tribe, place, etc.

Martha Stewart, head of the eponymous domestic beauty empire, once worked as a stock trader.

3. risorgimento: a time of renewal or renaissance.

Mixonian hopes to inspire a risorgimento in vocabulary appreciation.

4. chawbacon: bumpkin, hick.

The Manhattanite visitor found all the town's people to be total chawbacons.

5. banausic: utilitarian, practical.

The banausic housewife had no use for the aromatherapeutic candle, much to her daughter's dismay.

6. quintessence: the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form or the most typical example.

Sweetened tea is the quintessence of Southern beverages.

7. neologism: a new word usage or expression.

People often think babies are babbling when actually they are introducing neologisms to their unsuspecting parents.

8. snarky: testy or irritable; short.

The teacher warned her students that challenging her grades on their papers would bring out her lurking snarkiness.

9. fantasmagoria: a constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined, a bizarre or fantastic combination.

Dipping good bread in salted olive oil is a fantasmagorical treat.

10. nefarious: flagrantly wicked or impious, evil.

The children often accused their poor mother of having nefarious motives when she asked them to help her.

Go forth and impress someone with some wicked words.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What Are Your Energy Drains?

Now that we've dealt with brain drain, let's talk about energy drains. Energy drains are the important-but-not-urgent things that need to be taken care of. These are the things we sometimes dread, pushing them out of our minds temporarily. It is far too easy to keep putting them off, for example changing the oil of the car, until the situation becomes an emergency, and further delay is not possible.

My cousin Fair told me that as a recent divorcee she would have her oil checked regularly at the service station, and add oil, but she didn't realize she actually had to change the oil, until it was too late. Now she knows. Mixonian is fully sympathetic!

Energy drains are things that we see that need repair, or maintenance, or cleaning, but not necessarily at this moment. However, putting them off ensures that you will eventually have a full-blown crisis on your hands. Even worse, you spend precious time and energy feeling icky about them.

While it's not fun making this list, it is good to work on it and schedule in time for handling energy drains. Here are some common ones:

- getting your eyes/teeth checked

- backing up the stuff on your computer

- car maintenance

- sewing on buttons

- certain phone calls

- taking clothes to charity

- getting something fixed

- certain yard tasks

- organizing receipts

- cleaning out the garage

- paying parking tickets

- setting aside income for investments

- writing a thank-you note (or several!)

The best way to get these out of the way is to schedule time to "attack" a few at a time. Especially if the task is not something to be done in a single sitting, just work on it for, say 45 minutes a day or half an hour a day.

Get a friend to help you, or even to hold you accountable. Work on these in groups of five. That's total quality batch production for you.

Reward yourself afterwards! You'll see the dreading is actually worse than the acting upon them.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Repairing Brain Drain

You know about brain freeze, the unexpected feeling of being the deer in the headlights. Brain drain is a different sort of productivity problem.

Brain drain in this sense is not the flight of educated professionals from developing countries to more industrialized places. Brain drain produces an effect similar to that of writer's block. Brain drain is like burn out, that common disorder that results from doing too much too fast under too much pressure, for too long. This post is about yet another gremlin: brain drain

A case of brain drain can be like a wonderful fresh water well that dries up and your bucket only brings up a bit of sludge.

Our creative force is like a fish pond that needs replenishing. It is like a machine that needs care and cleaning. It is like a motor that needs fuel. But, unlike these tangible examples, there is no warning light to let us know we're running low on creative juice. You just wake up one day, and feel like there's nothing there up there.

When this happens, your brain has drained. Symptoms may include fatigue, but you can experience brain drain and not be tired. Brain drain is trying to think and only getting blank pages in response. It happens when you simply haven't been taking proper care of your own creativity generator.

It can happen when you get too busy. Too busy to write in your journal. Too busy to sketch. Too busy to visualize. You can keep running on inertia for a while; it seems that all is well. And then one morning you wake up, and there's nothing in the pipeline of creative force. You just hear an echo.

Brain drain is getting into a rut. It can be scary. You wonder if you'll ever have another new idea. Fortunately, the solution is not complicated or expensive. Most healthcare plans cover you.

While routines are good and necessary, if you don't schedule in activities to replenish your creative fish pond, then one day there are no fish to fish.

If you diagnose this problem in your life, you are also the only qualified doctor to prescribe the appropriate treatment. The prescription could be to plan a dinner party with some people you haven't seen in a while or it could be to visit a museum or a toy store. The solution could be to clean out your closet or desk, or maybe sign up for an evening class.

Here is a list of suggestions to consult in treating your own case of brain drain:

- Read a book that is not the kind of book you normally read.

- Try a new restaurant.

- Visit an antique shop.

- Buy new socks.

- Walk a different route.

- Talk to someone at work you normally don't talk to.

- Turn off all media. Including your computer.

- Light a fragrant candle.

- Sit down and write in your journal, even if you only write, "I have no idea what to write."

- Try standing on your head, against the wall if necessary.

Highly-functioning people are that way because they take care of themselves. You're in charge of your life, don't forget to water and feed your own creative force.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What You Look Like

This post is the answer to one of Anita's questions, that is to say she asked for a profile of the Mixonian reader. Here is a list of qualities that Mixonian sees in you. They are not in any particular order.

- Busy professional.

- Creative without necessarily being artsy-fartsy.

- Reasonably stylish and chic.

- Fit and/or getting fitter.

- Eats right...most of the time.

- Vibrant and competent.

- Loves family and home.

- Financially solvent.

- Spiritually aware.

- Intellectually curious.

- Socially acceptable but not necessarily politically correct.

- Reads books and magazines, in a word, literate.

- Imbibes, but not to excess...most of the time ; )

- Kind to others.

- Is part of the solution, not part of the problem....most of the time ; )

Sounds like a great group of people!

Our Renaissance Perspective

The word "renaissance," which means "re-birth" often conjures up images of Florence, Italy, fine paintings, ornate churches, the printing press, new freedoms for people, and prosperity. Florence is considered the cradle of the Renaissance, and the De Medici family were major players in this time period through their patronage of arts and science, financed by their extensive trade and other business activities.

The Renaissance followed roughly 1,000 years of the Middle Ages (400-1400 AD), which are thought to be mostly dark. Mixonian would argue that the Middle Ages were not as bad as people usually think, but it was a time period characterized by an extremely narrow world outlook or perspective. Kind of like parts of the 19th and 20th centuries, when Science (positivism if you want a $10 word) became the new Ultimate Religion. Modern narrow mindedness limits life to what can be scientifically or logically proven, and leaves everything else out. A rather cold outlook.

You may be wondering where this pseudo-historic post is headed, and what on earth can it possibly have to do with your day today.

No one can argue that right now people have more options than ever before in the history, as far as we know. That makes things confusing, it creates doubt and uncertainty about making decisions, but nevertheless, represents enormous potential. That is what Mixonian is about: a holistic, Renaissance-type perspective on life.

This blog is for 21th century neo-Renaissance thinkers and doers. People who live life now, without waiting for Uncle Henry's inheritance to kick in. People who pursue creative projects, from where they are, with their lives as they are currently constructed. People who want rich family lives, generous abundance, cheerful health, extensive artistic expression, and who have the desire to leave the world a better place.

These people may experience fear and doubt, but they feel it and act anyway. If you're reading this, you probably identify with this generative (i.e. creative) philosophy.

Continue to be bold, to step out and cross over departmental boundaries. Instead of thinking "either/or", maybe the choice can be "both/and."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Give Thanks for a Reason

It's not just Mixonian, there's actually research out there indicating that grateful people are healthier and happier.

Robert Emmons, PhD, has even written a book on the subject: Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. His research indicates that people who express and feel gratitude benefit on several fronts. They enjoy better health, stronger relationships, and success in the personal and professional goals.

In one study on gratitude published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the participants in the grateful group, wrote down 5 things each day for which they were grateful. The other groups wrote down their problems and another group noted all things that were affecting them. Not surprisingly, the grateful group experienced better health and more optimism about life in general than the other people in the study.

You can find more about these and other studies in Terri Trespicio's article, "Thank-you Therapy," published in the September issue of body + soul.

How amazing is it that the simple act of expressing gratitude is 1) free; 2) instantly accessible; and 3) universally available? No therapist needed.

Take a minute, if you haven't done so already today, and consider all the blessings in your life. Even with the situations that are annoying you, think about the valuable lesson in that situation that's waiting for you.

And even if you're not feeling particularly grateful for the mess you see right now, you can immediately feel better by say, switching the channel in your mind right now. Change your focus, change the emotion you're feeling. It's your choice.

Mixonian thanks you for reading this. Have a terrific Tuesday.

Friday, August 8, 2008

2 Ways to Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Dear reader, please keep in mind that Mixonian refers to shooting oneself in the foot in a metaphorical sense; Mixonian does not advocate any physical violence, or actually violence in any form.

It may be helpful to realize that the physical damage from a bullet, if it's not fatal, can be less pernicious than the damage done through certain negative habits with which people often assault themselves.

2 Ways to Bring Yourself (and Those Around You) Down:

1. Worry. The more, the better. One definition of worry is "prayer for what you don't want to happen." The worst part is worry not only is unproductive, it actually blocks you from doing something productive or thinking of an imaginative solution.

If you find yourself worrying about something is totally beyond your control, say the chance that a meteorite may hit the planet, then it's possible you are using worry to entertain your mind. Do something else.

If you are concerned about something somewhat in your control, say your investments, then do what you can to be comfortable with the situation. Study, take action (i.e. buy or sell, or put in an order to do so), or hand it over to a professional. Do what you can, but Mixonian can guarantee that worry never increases yields on any type of investment.

2. Criticize. People who do not worry often criticize those who do indulge. That is not helpful, either. It brings attention to the negative, in a similar way that worry does.

Criticizing is a sport, like worry, that provides no positive results, and even worse, it blocks productivity and creativity. Look for the good in the person, the place, the event, the situation.

Being at peace absolutely does not mean being a doormat. If the coffee someone serves you in a restaurant is lukewarm, you have a choice. Either drink it that way because the temperature of the coffee is not important to you, or simply ask, or insist, without drama, for a replacement.

Worrying and criticizing are simply habits. They can be replaced with good habits, the first being the commitment to be at peace. Imagine yourself as a happy camper, in a good mood, cheerful.

Life is short. Don't waste precious moments in worry or criticizing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

How to Say "No" to a Client

Dear Mixonian,

I'm at my wit's end. My clients tell me to jump, and I ask them how high, and so they keep demanding more and more from me. My boss tells me it's not his problem, but mine.

Here's an example. One client wants me to visit their office (again) across the country. I was just there a couple of weeks ago and now they want me to return this week. What I can tell them? It's my job to keep the clients happy.

Ms. On The Ball

Dear Ms. On The Ball,

Mixonian is pleased with your desire to give your client such personal service. That is truly commendable and it's no wonder they want more from you.

You may recall that your mother once told you in certain situations the best strategy is to play hard to get. The same is true for customer relations. You take care of them, but you take care of yourself as well.

Putting off your visit by a week probably won't cause the company to go bankrupt.

Each morning and evening, right after brushing your teeth, do this exercise. With careful enunciation, say "no." Repeat at least five times.

Then, when Ms. Demanding Client demands your presence, you can say, "No, I can't be there tomorrow, but I could be there in 10 days." The client will respect you even more in the morning.


Choose Confidence Over Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are we not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn't serve the world.

There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.

Taken from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.

This was quoted by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Your Gift to the World

Just imagine for a moment that every time you are with someone, that person feels better from being around you, even if it's only for a brief moment.

Picture yourself at work, or at home, feeling all warm and smiley.

You feel at peace with the world.

That is it. That is your gift to your loved ones, and to the greater world: A Happy Camper in the Planet Earth Adventure!

If you're like a lot of people, you believe that you can serve others, and save your happiness for the next life, or be selfish here and now. I used to see life in terms of this dichotomy, but now I see things differently. It's not "either/or", it's "and."

If each of us were to commit to making ourselves feel joy, most of the time, imagine the consequences! What a gift to our parents, our children, our friends.

It is said that one fourth to one third of U.S. citizens suffer from depression, which we can define as "anger turned inward." Why the anger? You can probably reduce it to some form of thinking that life is not turning out the way we expected, and/or other people are not behaving the way we think they should.

What if you could let go of all that, and just find joy in the sound of the whirring fan, the birds chirping, or your dog's enthusiasm.

Try making your joy your top priority, as your complete responsibility. The world will be a better place.

Friday, August 1, 2008

20 Reasons to Be More Creative

After all the posts about telling you dear readers things you can do to develop and strengthen your creativity, I thought we might think about the why to bother being creative. Here are 20 reasons to encourage you to be conscious of your own creative potential and be open to new ways to express your creativity.

When you decide to reach for new levels of creative-ness, you open yourself up to receive all these benefits:

1. It's a more delightful way to live.

2. You create more opportunities.

3. You develop more awareness of the miracles in your life.

4. You can create new sources of wealth.

5. You solve problems with more ease.

6. Your mind works better.

7. You live with less stress.

8. You become a more interesting person.

9. Your creative force is contagious.

10. Creative work wards off dementia.

11. You retain more of a child-like spirit.

12. You relate to children better.

13. Tacky people will not want to be around you.

14. You're in the same league as the greatest creative contributors from the past.

15. You attract other creative people into your life.

16. People (who are not your children) perceive you as hip, cool, and magnetic.

17. You have more things to celebrate.

18. Your efforts to shape your life the way you want it to be, are more effective.

19. Your approach to life is more pro-active.

20. Using your creativity connects you to the Divine.

It's the week-end, go turn up the creativity!

P.S. Mixonian is thankful for those of you who have shopped through this blog. Special hugs to you!

Free Gift from Bliss

Bliss offers Mixonian readers a welcome gift. With any $50 purchase during the month of August, get free shipping and the travel-friendly Bliss Sinkside Six-pack, for FREE, when it's normally $25.

Bliss Sinkside Six-pack:

To make it even easier for trying or traveling, we've mini-sized some of our most mega bath, body and skincare formulas (the same ones scored by lucky W Hotel guests) and bundled them into a handy waterproof tote. Includes an ounce each of Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash, Bliss Lemon+Sage Soapy Sap, Bliss Lemon+Sage Body Butter, Bliss Lemon+Sage Supershine Shampoo, Bliss Lemon+Sage Conditioning Rinse, plus a 'small but still fab' 1.8 oz Bliss Lemon+Sage Soap Slab.

This product was featured in a recent issue of Harper's Bazaar.

Click on the button below the photo on the left and once you're in Bliss, click on their "special free gift offer" to get the checkout code.

Just thought I'd pass along this super deal. It's a great chance to get some Christmas shopping done. Have a blissful week-end.

Where are Your Habits Leading You?

by Jack Canfield

You are an accumulation of your habits. From how you get out of bed, how you shower, how you dress, how you walk, sit, and talk, how you respond to the world, how you act in front of others, and how you think; you're living out your habits.

Habits are necessary. They free up your mind so you can concentrate on how to survive day to day. You don't have to think about how to drive your car so you can be on the lookout for danger while you are driving. You don't have to think about how to walk so you can concentrate on where you're going.

Unfortunately, habits can also keep you locked in self-destructive patterns, which will limit your success. To become successful, you will need to drop bad habits and develop new ones that are in line with the life you want to live.

People don't suddenly appear in the life they want to live... their habits determine their outcome!

What are the habits you have that are keeping you from achieving your goals?

Really be honest with yourself here... Are you always running late? Do you return phone calls within 24 hours? Do you get enough sleep? Do you follow through on your promises? Do you plan out your day?

Imagine what your life would be like if all your habits were their productive counterparts!

What would your life be like if you ate healthy meals, exercised and got enough sleep? What if you saved your money, stopped using credit cards and paid cash for everything? What if you stopped procrastinating, overcame your fears, and began networking with people in your field? Would your life be different? I bet it would!

So, my suggested action step for you is to write down some productive habits you could adopt and visualize in your life, step two is to 'act as if' you were living these new habits right now!

I'd like to help you get moving toward creating more successful habits, so I'd recommend you develop four of your new success habits each year, one for each quarter.

Once you pick the new habit you're ready to adopt, next you'll want to create a method that will support your new habit.

Here are some ideas... You could write it down on a card that you keep with you and read several times a day. You could make it a part of your daily visualization. You could also enlist the help of an accountability partner who has habits to change, or work with a personal coach who can keep you on track.

It's important to make a 100% commitment to your new habit, so be specific about the steps that you're willing to take in order to drop an old habit and adopt a new one. Don't be vague about how you will change your habits. Spell it out for yourself so you can recognize situations that motivate you to act out your new habit.

Just developing four new habits a year will dramatically shift your life to be more in line with your vision. And the more in line it becomes, the easier the other habits are to replace because your perspective is shifting and you can see more clearly how your old habits aren't serving you anymore.

Make the decision. Make the commitment. Then watch your new, positive life unfold!

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is the founder and co-creator of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: