Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Laughter is Good Medicine

There will be a lot of humor in this blog for two reasons. First, humor gives a fresh perspective and an opportunity to change by shifting consciousness from the linear, logical, left brain to the non-linear, spontaneous, creative right brain. Second, humor and laughter are healthy.

Laughter is good medicine. It's like aerobic cardiovascular exercise benefiting the heart, circulation and blood pressure. A ten or fifteen minute daily dose of humor and laughter is almost the same as a thirty minute run. It's an attitude adjustment without the hangover. Laughter is contagious, not only will you benefit, but so will those around you.

Lighten up and look for opportunities to laugh with life. Do you know why angels fly? Because they take themselves so lightly.

Think of laughter as inner jogging; it helps support the healthy levels of endorphins that build happiness, fight anxiety and fortify the immune response, including the natural killer cells that fight cancer. All of this free of the side effects you hear about on those TV medicine commercials, that are often worse than the disease.

A woman walks into a bar, sits down, orders a drink and while she's waiting, eats some nuts. A high shrill voice says, "Nice legs!" She whips her head around but no one else is nearby. She eats a few more nuts and the same voice says, "Nice stockings!" Again, she looks around and there's no one there. The bartender comes with her drink. "You know," she says to him, "I heard a voice telling me nice legs and nice stockings, but there's no one else here." "Oh," says the bartender. "That was the nuts, they're complimentary."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is PC the Best Way to Celebrate Both Our Diversity and Our Unity?

American society and each of us as members of it have a number of wonderful opportunities. One of them, how to respect individual differences and still function as a single nation, community, team or organization is highlighted this time of year and in the following 'joke.' It's funny and sad and left me, as I hope it does you, wondering how we can celebrate both our diversity and our unity without being forced into rediculous extremes. It's not easy, but it is an opportunity.

Sent: Wed, December 16, 2009 6:35:53 PM

Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 1, 2009
RE: Gala Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to sing along. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This gathering is only for employees!
Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!
Merry Christmas to you and your family,
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 2, 2009
RE: Gala Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.
Happy now?
Happy Holidays to you and your family,
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 5, 2009
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this?
And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: October 6, 2009
RE: Generic Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours.. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work?
Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms.
Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table.
Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men's table.
To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry.
We will have booster seats for short people.
Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet.
I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food . The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first.
There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply "no sugar" desserts. Sorry!
Did I miss anything?!?!?
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F*%^ing Employees
DATE: October 7, 2009
RE: The F*%^ing Holiday Party
I've had it with you vegetarian pr*cks!!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes.. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right NOW!
The rest of you f*%^ing wierdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a rotten holiday!
Drive drunk and die,
The B*tch from H*ll!!!
Company Memo
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: October 8, 2009
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery from the institution and I'll continue to forward your cards to her.
In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.
Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Active Listening - Part I of III

Active Listening
Think back to those few friends, mentors, counselors, or
family members who have had the biggest impact on you. How would
you characterize the communication between you? Was it helpful,
meaningful, telepathic, or inspirational?

In one-to-one relationships with someone who knows us well, we
are often in such complete synchronization that communication flows
between us almost without words. Or so we feel. If this is the
case, is it because we excel at expressing ourselves, or because we
are masters of listening? Naturally, both are important, but, to
turn a phrase, talk is cheap and listening is rare.

Chances are that those who influence us most are powerful lis-
teners. Whether instinctively or through practice, they have
developed the skill of empathy.

A University of Maine researcher, Dr. Marisue Pickering, iden-
tifies four characteristics of empathetic listeners:

l. Desire to be other-directed, rather than to project one's own
feelings and ideas onto the other.

2. Desire to be non-defensive, rather than to protect the self.
When the self is being protected, it is difficult to focus on
another person.

3. Desire to imagine the roles, perspectives, or experiences of the
other, rather than assuming they are the same as one's own.

4. Desire to listen as a receiver, not as a critic, and desire to
understand the other person rather than to achieve either agreement
from or change in that person.

Further, she identifies ten discrete skills for empathetic
listening, shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Skills Associated with Empathy

1. Attending, acknowledging 1. Providing verbal or non-
verbal awareness of the
other, ie, eye contact

2. Restating, paraphrasing 2. Responding to person's
basic verbal message

3. Reflecting 3. Reflecting feelings,
experiences, or content
that has been heard or
perceived through cues

4. Interpreting 4. Offering a tentative
interpretation about the
other's feelings, desires,
or meanings

5. Summarizing, synthesizing 5. Bringing together in some
way feelings and
experiences; providing
a focus

6. Probing 6. Questioning in a supportive
way that requests more
information or that
attempts to clear up

7. Giving feedback 7. Sharing perceptions of the
other's ideas or feelings;
disclosing relevant
personal information

8. Supporting 8. Showing warmth and caring in
one's own individual way

9. Checking perceptions 9. Finding out if interpre-
tations and perceptions
are valid and accurate

10. Being quiet 10. Giving the other time to
think as well as to talk

SOURCE: Pickering, Marisue, "Communication" in EXPLORATIONS, A
Journal of Research of the University of Maine, Vol. 3, No. 1, Fall
1986, pp 16-19.

These skills, like those of self-expression, can be learned,
practiced, and mastered. Our society places much more attention on
the spoken side of the communication equation, but if you think
about who influences you, are they good talkers or good listeners?

As we come to understand ourselves and our relationships with
others better, we rediscover that "communication is not just saying
words; it is creating true understanding." Active listening is an
important skill in that process.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stress Management

Managing Stress with Exercise for People Who Hate Exercise

Need exercise but not into riding a bike, swimming, or playing tennis? Here’s some ways to burn calories each hour – painlessly.

Activity Calories

Beating around the bush 75

Jumping to conclusions 100

Climbing the walls 150

Passing the buck 25

Throwing your weight around 200

Dragging your feet 100

Digging in your heels 75

Wading through paperwork 300

Running around in circles 200

Making mountains out of molehills 500

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Little Girl on a Plane


A Congressman was seated next to a little girl on the
airplane when he turned to her and said, 'Let's talk. I've heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.'

The little girl, who had just opened her book, closed it slowly and said to the total stranger, 'What would you like to talk about?'

'Oh, I don't know,' said the congressman. 'How about global warming or universal health care', and he smiles smugly.

OK, ' she said. 'Those could be interesting topics. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?'

The legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, 'Hmmm, I have no idea.'

To which the little girl replies, 'Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming or universal health care when you don't know shit?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This graphic depicts the four conframe shapes discussed in the first post.

Introduction: What is The New Professionalism?

The New Professionalism: Connecting Science and Spirit is a book. Please contact Dr. Steve to purchase an autographed, first edition.

A New Professionalism, Connecting Science and Spirit, Will Make us Better, More Effective Professionals

Most of us consider ourselves professionals. But we’re old professionals, not in age, but in how we think about things. We rely on rationality, science and our left brains to the exclusion of intuition, spirit and our right brains. To relate to our work, families, communities and even ourselves more effectively we need to be new professionals, using both science and spirit, left brain and right, head and heart.

Such a new professionalism would offer a way beyond using only the cold technique and icy expertise of old traditional professionalism, to enable us to include the enthusiasm, joy and compassion of our spiritual power, what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the energy of the “divine circuits.”

We don’t have to put that energy into things, Emerson tells us, it’s there already. To reach it in ourselves and others, to have our personal and professional lives filled with that glow, we have to get the blocks, what Emerson called, our “bloated nothingness,” out of the way.

Ring true? Emerson’s saying we’ve had it backwards all this time. Spirit -- enthusiasm, warmth, creativity and trust -- is the rule, not the exception. If we can get our bloated nothingness – our worry, fear, and solitary dependence on science and rationality, out of the way, spirit is what’s left.
Three steps do that. First, realize you have a bloated nothingness and it operates through your conceptual frameworks (conframes), the invisible patterns connecting thoughts, feelings and actions. Second, be mindful of which of the four conframes you’re using. Third, consciously shift to the one for the new professionalism, the one that interferes least with the divine circuits.

Shape Shifting Consciously
The shapes below represent the thoughts, feelings and experiences produced by the four basic conframes. Since shifts between them are usually unconscious, if you become more mindful, you’ll know which conframe you’re using (Step 2) and which to shift to (Step 3). Only one conframe shape represents the new professionalism and connects scientific expertise with inner wisdom and spiritual power to provide the skill, enthusiasm, warmth and creativity we want in our lives. Before going on, look at the shapes and see if you can identify which that is.

blob dichotomy pyramid continuum

When using the Blob, you’ll have blah experiences. Everything will seem the same, without meaning or significance. Nothing will matter very much and no thing will be all that different from any other thing. Key word: one dimensional.

With the Dichotomy, things are experienced as two dimensional. As in: “you’re either for me or against me,” and, “things are either good or bad.” Key word: either/or. With the Dichotomy there’s no middle ground.

Key words for the Pyramid are hierarchy and scarcity. Judgments and rankings are instantaneous and automatic. Best is at the top, worst at the bottom. The moment we experience something, we judge it.

The Continuum connects. Its keyword is both/and. By virtue of its shape alone, the Continuum communicates a sense of wholeness and completeness; without barriers, levels or other forms of separation. Striving and proving are replaced by flow and intuition. It is the shape of the new professionalism, a relationship with customers and others emphasizing trust and cooperation instead of the strife and struggle represented by the Dichotomy and Pyramid.

Next time you reach the limits of your expertise or feel you’re losing it with yourself or others, shift to the Continuum. And remember, shifting begins in the easiest and hardest places -- your own heart and mind.
Easy because believe it or not, in spite of what your parents, teachers or society did to you, your heart and mind are, and always have been, 100% your own. And hard, because being 100% your own, you have to face yourself and accept responsibility for what goes on there. The most difficult journey is the eighteen inches between head and heart.

Let the Continuum Work for You
Though the Continuum’s best, it’s not the most popular. Just as people thought the world was flat in 1492, so now most people think professional relationships and life in general, are best understood as a Pyramid or Dichotomy -- the conframes of the old professionalism -- the bloated nothingness that blocks the divine circuits.

You have to consciously choose the Continuum. It will not operate automatically as our bloated nothingness, the Dichotomy and Pyramid, do. Here are a few examples that show both how to use the Continuum, and it’s superiority.

Put water on a continuum of hot and cold. Ice at one end, steam at the other, liquid in the center. You can differentiate between them and simultaneously understand that they’re different forms of the same thing, water. The Blob couldn’t do that.

With the Blob, you’d perceive only water and wouldn’t be able to make the very useful distinctions between its solid form, ice, and its gaseous form, steam. The Dichotomy would reduce the three -- ice, liquid and steam -- to two. And the Pyramid would arrange them into a hierarchy with one at the top.

Here’s another. Put the skin color of human beings on a continuum with one end being white, the other, black. Each color is visible but we can clearly see the larger truth, all are part of the same thing -- humanity. The Blob wouldn’t detect differences at all. The Dichotomy would focus only on differences, missing the connections. While the Pyramid would include them all, but suggest some differences, those at the top, are better than others.

Do emotions. With the Blob we’d have nothing but emotions. The Dichotomy makes emotions either good or bad. While the Pyramid says some emotions are better than others, perhaps love at the top and hate at the bottom.
Except during a war, when it would be reversed. The Continuum shows all emotions have a place.

The Continuum connects you, your client, and learners instead of separating them. By adding warmth, creativity and enthusiasm to expertise and technique it creates a new professionalism, one that is more effective and life-affirming than the tired, over-worked old professionalism we’re used to.

Become a new professional. Use the three steps. First, realize you have a bloated nothingness and it operates through your conceptual frameworks. Second, be mindful of which of the four conframes you’re using. Third, shift to the Continuum. Put your thoughts, feelings and experiences on it and let the Continuum’s level flow become the pattern for your life.

What conframe are you using, right now?
To know, be aware of the shape your thoughts, feelings and experiences seem to have; the patterns in your life, the things that keep happening month-to-month, week after week. Since each conframe has its own shape, the patterns in your experience tell you which conframes you usually use.

How do you know when you’re using the Continuum?
Life flows. Decision making is straight forward. Fear, doubt and worry are minimal. You feel lighter and more bouyant. Time is not pressing in on you. You laugh more often; are more attractive and enjoy yourself, what you’re doing and who you’re with.