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How To Spread Love In Your City in the New Year

How To Spread Love In Your City in the New Year

In the age of technological progress happening at the speed of Google Fiber, the world is more connected than ever, but we can feel completely disconnected from our closest neighbors, friends, and the people we walk by every day. Here are some practical and small ways that you can spread love in your city, not just over the holidays, but throughout the new year and beyond. We are all humans, we are all people, and we all deserve some love, comfort, and happiness in our lives. You don’t have to donate billions to charity to make a difference in someone’s life! Everyone can make a difference and contribute to another person’s happiness.

1. Fully Listening to People

There is a difference between hearing someone and really listening. Really listening to someone can be very powerful, and can show someone how much you care about them and their feelings. We all want to be heard and understood. How can you listen better?

According to Harriet Cabelly, a social worker and positive psychology coach, you first need to understand the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is simple, listening involves the whole self – attentiveness, interest, and concern showing through. Stay present during the full conversation, ask questions, acknowledge the person’s feeling, it’s all part of truly listening to someone. Go forth and really listen to people, you may just find that you don’t know some people as well as you thought.

2. Smile

Smiles and laughs can be contagious. Spread positivity by radiating it! Smile at those harried people in line at Starbucks, as you’re walking down the street, and at your coworkers. A smile and kind hello can mean a lot to people, and can make someone feel good. When someone smiles at you, you feel as though you’ve been noticed, and a simple smile and “hi!” can make someone’s day a little brighter. This free and easy way to spread love will make you also feel better!

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Charles Darwin first posed the idea that emotional responses influence our feelings in 1872.

“The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it,” he wrote.

The idea that when we frown, we feel pain more intensely and when we smile, our brains believe us to be happier has been explored by psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales, who performed a study based on whether botox, since it inhibits facial expressions, also inhibits our feelings.

So, smile!

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3. Help Strangers

In a world full of 7 billion people, it is easy to get caught up in our own world. I life in New York City, and basically the entire city, teaming with millions, are strangers. But every day, I am awarded a beautiful sense of community when I give a homeless person a sandwich, or see someone helping an infirm person across the street, or giving the embarrassed person in front of you that extra quarter they’re missing. Little things like this give us a sense of connectedness, and helping strangers in small ways is a fantastic way to help people and spread love across the world. Help people without thought of compensation or reward, do it because you can and should.

4. Pay It Forward

Paying It Forward can happen in many different ways, but a way that it’s happening these days that makes the news is at Starbucks! Paying it forward refers to someone purchasing the coffee or order of the person behind them in line. At one Florida store, the pay it forward chain lasted 11 hours! It started at 7 am at the St Petersburg location and lasted an amazing 378 people! What could be the record for the longest pay it forward chain at a Starbucks in Newington, CT, where starting at 8 am on Christmas Eve in 2013, and lasted over 1000 customers. These small acts of kindness are said to inspire and influence people to continue performing acts of kindness, not just to the customers behind them in line, but to others in their lives.

Make sure to pay things forward in life, in general. When I was young, just starting in my career, I was given amazing training and mentorship by another employee, and have tried to pay it forward to new people throughout my career, hoping to assist people and help them gain not only understanding of their current job, but also of what it means to be part of a team and mentor others.

5. Offer Acknowledgement and Recognition

We have all felt what it’s like to do something and not get recognized. While you should not be doing good or kind things for acknowledgement or recognition, it is always appreciated when someone does recognize it. Mostly I refer to work situations. Recognize and give credit to your colleagues and employees. The people who work hard, achieve things in the workplace, and try to be great employees. Just like with children, most people want to be genuinely recognized and acknowledged for doing well at work and in life. When you tell someone “good job!” you’re showing them that you noticed and appreciated them and their hard work. As simplistic as it seems, many people every year leave good jobs simply because they feel unappreciated.

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In 2013, Forbes published an article stating that 2 million Americans quit their jobs voluntarily every month, and that according to a study done by Accenture, 43% of people quitting their jobs cite “lack of recognition” as the reason. This is a huge percentage and something that is so easily remedied. Appreciate your people! Just because you pay someone to do a job doesn’t mean that person doesn’t deserve recognition when they do it well. In a world where great employee retention is a huge part of success, you should not be losing anyone to them feeling unappreciated for their work.

6. Be Grateful

It’s not just for Thanksgiving! Spread love and positivity by expressing your gratitude in life. I like to tell my partner “We are so lucky. We’ve worked hard and we have a wonderful life. Look at all the things we have to be grateful for: each other, our families, our jobs, our friends.” Sometimes we all need a reminder that the little things and disappointments in life are not what’s important, and that we have a lot to be thankful for. Tell your friends you appreciate them, thank your boss for being a great role model and helping you, tell your parents you love them. Spread the love!

7. Use Good Manners

This one may seem silly at first, but how many times has someone bumped into you and you apologized? Or you saw someone wave or say hello at work and you were too busy or distracted to respond? Good manners are noticed and easy to do. Look people in the eye when you talk to them, call people by their names, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The golden rule of life is to treat people as you wish to be treated. So wave to your neighbor, say hello, excuse me, please, and thank you. It seems simple and it is, but good manners make a difference to people and a difference in how people treat each other. Manners are an indication of kindness and respect for others, and this is a great way to spread the love.

8. Small Acts of Random Kindness

Put change in a meter that’s about to run out. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Hold the elevator. For goodness sake, use your turn signal! Donate your loose change to a local charity. Random acts of kindness can turn someone’s day around, and will cost you little to no time or money. Why wouldn’t you want to do small things that can help people? If you think of most people as inherently good, you should also want to do good things for people in the world.

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9. Do Pro Bono Work For a Great Cause

You can use your professional skills and do short term or long term work for your favorite local or global charity through CatchAFire.org, which connects people with the right skills to the nonprofit organizations that could use your help. Right now there are projects waiting for volunteers from everything from needing Marketing Strategies to Storytelling help, to Grantwriting to Website Construction. If you have great skills, some time, and a love of volunteering, these projects could be a great way to volunteer in a new and interesting way!

10. Donate Anything!

Donations are not all about money. You can donate anything these days, from clothes and shoes and purses to books and tools. Instead of throwing away anything, try to donate it to someone who could use it first. Homeless shelters often desperately need socks and hygiene items, women’s shelters always need things for the kids and teens like books and toys, animal shelters need pet toys, bed, and leashes, and Goodwill and Salvation Army will take almost anything. There are even services who will take your old kitchen appliances like refrigerators and microwaves! Why throw away something that works or still has life in it, when it can go to people who need it?

11. Visit An Animal Shelter

Spend time with man’s best friend and man’s animal that tolerates them by going to a shelter and walking some dogs or cuddling with the homeless cats! Animal shelters have more animals than humans, and often need people to help play with and take care of the animals. This would be a great date, or a fun day with your best friend. And you never know, maybe you’ll even find your next furry companion!

12. Love Yourself and Be Happy

This may sound trite, but the best way to spread happiness and love is by radiating it. Show the world love by loving yourself first. Spread positivity by first being positive. You being happy and appreciative and grateful makes it easy to spread that happiness and gratefulness to others. Be the best version of yourself by being thankful for what you have, by having a good work ethic and a strong will. Learn new skills and maybe you’ll want to teach others. You as a person are the best advertisement for happiness when you’re passing it out to other people.

Featured photo credit: Virginia Is For Lovers by Jon Cornwell via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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