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One Small Act Can Hugely Improve Your Quality of Life

One Small Act Can Hugely Improve Your Quality of Life

“It’s just another manic Monday”, goes the song. Despite it being an old one, we whole-heartedly agree. Life in metros and cities has become unbelievably busy and chaotic. All of us want to have it all; and we are in a perpetual hurry to get to the top. To stop would be shameful and to hurry and be harried is glamorous, so we play up the fact that we are always busy.

Incessant hurry often leads us to make mistakes– personally and professionally. We often don’t have enough time for those closest to us who most need our attention. In our blind rush we can end up causing incidents and accidents. We miss life’s special little moments by not having time for anybody, including ourselves. This in turn leads to more stress, frustration, and regret.

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When in doubt, pause.

We all know that stress can lead to bad decisions. Whenever you are in a chaotic frame of mind, be it those looming deadlines or that last-minute get-together, pause. This self-prescribed recess is a break for you to breathe, put things into perspective, and prioritize. A pause will give you constructive time to pull together your thoughts and yourself, allowing you to best deal with any situation in a manner that’s logical, sensible, and proactive.

What do I do when I pause?

We’re so used to filling up all of our waking hours with frenetic activity that a pause can leave us feeling lost. We are not sure what to do when we pause. The thing is, when you pause you more or less do nothing. While we are not advising you to sit and stare into a vast nothingness, a “take five” means just that: a self-imposed recess of five to ten minutes in which you can breathe, count till 100, have a cuppa, take a walk, practice mindful breathing, or meditate.

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How will a pause help?

Pausing helps you pull together your thoughts and not get carried away by emotions. In any situation, taking a break from running in circles that take you nowhere can help you channel your emotions into thoughts and words, helping you figure out the whys and the wherefores in a clear, calm manner.

When faced with a situation that seems insurmountable, a pause can help you reach a solution or an enlightened approach. It gives you much-needed time to think through jumbled thoughts and emotions to reach what you need; a calm mind and heart. A pause is not procrastination. Procrastination is the utter avoidance of things due to fear or is simply a lackadaisical attitude, while a pause is a proactive step that you take in order to avoid becoming part of the problem. Procrastination is you not wanting to face a situation at all, and a bid to run away from it indefinitely. A pause is the first step taken to actively solve a problem that helps you clear your mind and reach a rational, well-thought-out decision.

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For how long should I pause?

While we’d love to say that you should pause for as long as you need, with so much to do in such little time that’s not a possibility. From a 10-minute meditation break to a one-hour salon session, a pause is what you need to empower yourself. It needs to refresh you to better cope with your situation.

Take just long enough to pep talk yourself into facing the monster of the day or hour to the best of your abilities. Don’t let doubt enter your pause. A pause is your way of professing self-love and cheering yourself on, come what may.

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Featured photo credit: GulfEyes via gulfeyes.net

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Rima Pundir

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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