What Are You Scared Of? Positive Vibes Series: Build Courage

Get up and show oomph! Be bold, be confident, thread your way through what people think of you, the obstacles, and everything that stirs up a weakness. Gird up your loins and get rid of your doubts and uncertainties.

Sounds familiar? Well, often, the voices in our head are loud enough to nudge us to take action. Still, we turn the volume down and list all the things that could go wrong and all the possible sufferings that can happen because we are afraid.

Aristotle (philosopher 384-322 B.C.) defines “fear as pain or disturbance due to a mental picture of some destructive or painful evil in the future.” Even though he indicates that wickedness and stupidity are evils, but they do not frighten us. Or we are not troubled by things that are a very long way off, such as death. What makes us anxious and fearful is when things have the power to harm and cause significant pain.

Fear is seen as an evolutionary necessity that can help notify a person whether they should proceed in their current direction or find another course to increase the likelihood of survival (Cannon, 1914; Ohman & Mineka, 2001). With this in mind, living a braver life is not to act naively, but to break down those potential problems and build a ladder to face the fears.

For instance, feeling anxious about air turbulence when flying is normal but refusing to travel is a debilitating and irrational fear. What constitutes courage is that you voluntarily take action to accomplish your goals when you have identified the potential problems. Being alert and being fully conscious that things might go wrong is to build the capacity to become braver in the face of challenges and setbacks.

In contrast to existing ideas that tell us to keep away from stress, you can leverage your anxiety and stress by rehearsing the tension and fear. Physical challenging experiences, contests, adventure activities are all character-forming pursuits that develop courage. Taking cold showers in the morning, a ritual that activates stress hormones which makes you think clearly, to engage in high-intensity workouts such as cycling, rock climbing, or running that help with your general health or intermittent fasting, are techniques based on the Stoic philosophy of self-denial that builds resilience against everyday stressors.

Now, in highly uncertain situations, evidently, you have no real control. By adopting a mindset that the only thing you have control over is your response, which is fostered by your values and attitudes towards life, you can transform the uncontrollable to manageable.

As Epictetus said: A Stoic “sage” never finds life intolerable, but sees in every challenge as an opportunity to test and improve oneself:

You should look to the faculties that you have, and say as you behold them, ‘Bring on me now, O Zeus, whatever difficulties you will, for I have the means and the resources granted to me by yourself to bring honour to myself through whatever may come to pass.’ (TD, Book One, Ch. 6, p. 18).

Featured image by Igor Morski

How To Develop A Growth Mindset? Talk with Krista Roesler M.A. RP

Do you feel misunderstood, go through bitter self-recrimination, be confused about how you feel, cope with life challenges, or be distracted? Occasionally, we feel sad and display a lack of energy or vigor; however, gaining a deep understanding of the reasons behind the distress enables us to regulate our mood. The awareness allows us to remedy our feelings either through finding a solution or adopting a restorative method.

The problem arises when unknown anxiety, procrastination, fear, or an undigested disturbing experience pushes us to nihilism. When we cannot identify an accurate reason for the lingering inner conflicts, we tend to gravitate towards the negative path. This complication prevents us from gaining insight into what has triggered our despair, anxiety, or other impaired emotions. This is when self-help stops working, and you need a confidante, someone who patiently and supportively listens.

When your efforts and resources are ineffective and blindly steering the wheel, it’s time to establish a personal interaction that acts as a catalyst—a professional who can improve your wellbeing and resolve your worrisome behaviors and thoughts.

On this account, to learn more about how to deal with self-criticism, not to take offense, and develop a growth mindset, I had the opportunity to interview Krista Roesler M.A. RP, a registered psychotherapist and a professionally trained life coach at Psych Company located in Toronto:

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Courtesy of Psych Company

Jupilings: Please tell us about your background and areas of expertise- 

KW: I am a registered psychotherapist and a life coach. I have a masters degree in psychology and life coaching training from the Adler Institute/the University of Toronto. I work with individuals and couples on a wide range of issues from finding purpose in life and achieving dreams and goals to dealing with more severe mental health issues such as addiction, trauma, depression, etc. Please see the website for a more detailed list: www.psychcompany.com

Jupilings: In the context of living a meaningful & a mindful life, how can we distinguish between who we should be and whom we want to be- 

KR: In the context of living a meaningful & a mindful life you can distinguish between who we should be and who we want to be by getting familiar with our values or what is really important us. Start by writing a list of all the things you feel like you should do, have to do, feel obligated to do or others told you to do. Now cross off everything you don’t want to do. Now start a 2nd list and of the things you actually want to do and try to get more of that in your life. 

Jupilings: How to deal with self-criticism- 

KR: One way to deal with self-criticism is to first become really aware of it by writing it down. Next, separate your self-criticism from your own voice. Tell your self that just because you are thinking these thoughts it doesn’t mean any of them are true. Explore and think about where the thoughts originated. Did you have a critical parent? Next, think about what you really need to hear to feel empowered? Do you need to hear that you can do it? Do you need to hear that you are smart enough or good enough? 

Jupilings: How to become braver in life- 

KR: You can become braver in life by trying and doing things that are out of your comfort zone or that you didn’t think you could. This will help build your confidence.

Jupilings: How not to take things personally- 

KR: You can stop taking things personally by recognizing that it’s usually about someone else’s issues and not you. These issues might be that someone might have a bad day or be under stress for example. 

Ask yourself if they are like this with everyone? If they are like this with others than it is not personal.

Be curious and wonder why that person might behave that way? If it’s a bully. Were they bullied at some point in their life and now bully others? Is it someone who is shy and that’s why they have trouble with eye contact, responding, talking? When you can try to understand why someone behaves a certain way you can free yourself from taking it personally.

Jupilings: What are your 5 golden tips to help us develop a growth mindset-

KR:

  1. View all obstacles/challenges/criticism as a learning opportunity
  2. Embrace imperfection, mistakes and failure
  3. Enjoy the process of getting there and don’t hyper-focus on the end result
  4. Learn from the mistakes of others
  5. If you haven’t mastered something yet, allow time to practice and improvement.

Jupilings: We do negotiate with ourselves and others each and every day, what are the necessary traits that need to be nurtured to help us negotiate from a position of strength- 

KR: Non-judging is one of the attitudinal foundations of mindfulness. Any tips or practice that will support our efforts to adopt a non-judgemental attitude.

A tip that will support our efforts to adopt a non-judgement attitude is to be more compassionate with yourself and others. A good way to do this is to think of someone you deeply care about and want to protect such as your child or best friend. Now ask yourself if you would ever say those thoughts to your best friend or child. If you wouldn’t think about what you would say to them instead and say that to yourself. 

Jupilings: “If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool”. What are your tips to deal with our lack of understanding and to stay calm in unpleasant situations or being annoyed by people’s behaviours-

KR: A tip is to try to have empathy and to try to put yourself into that person’s shoes. Become curious about what made that person act or think that way. Remember we are all doing the best we can with where we are. Remind yourself of all the times in the past that you didn’t know any better and also acted like a “fool.”

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

KR: Setbacks are a normal part of life. I expect setbacks to happen. I factor the expectation that setbacks will occur into everything I do. It means whatever I want to do will just take a little longer and little more work to get there and that’s okay. That’s part of life. 

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

KR: Action leads to success. Every little step forward will get me closer to where I want to be. 

Click on the link provided for more information about www.psychcompany.com

Interview​ with Antonio Mora – Surreal & Lucid Artist

Imagine walking to the deep end of your subconscious and learn about your true desires.  Imagine reaching your highest level of awareness. Imagine an extraordinary experience that explores your resilience which flows through the self-imposed boundaries of the intellect. Feel the sensation of the current of your own agency to revive your strength and the superhero within you. Skillfully, this journey is depicted by Antonio Mora. He leads you to discover your absurd, somber, or brave emotions through self-reflective imagery which captures your cognitive clarity to get closer to yourself.

Jungle - Antonio Mora
Jungle – Antonio Mora

Antonio Mora, a surreal creative and art director, frames the mystery of our pursuit in life and the endless possibilities of our being in an uncompromising artistic narrative. Patching emotions of cultural impressions to the advent of modern life and crushing the overprotective surrogate inner-self to the extent that fantasy becomes a tangible reality is what Antonio Mora offers.

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Young Caribdis, Antonio Mora 

He studied psychology and philology, later completing his training with a Master of Art in Graphic Design and creatively continues to encourage self-reflection and deliberation to summon up the courage to connect with oneself. I had the opportunity to interview him, one of the most expressive artists of the present time, to learn about him and his spirit:

sevilla in red
Sevilla in Red – Antonio Mora

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art-

AM: I have always been a creative person. For more than 25 years I have worked as a graphic designer and art director in my own design studio.

In 2011, after a serious physical crisis, I decided to give free rein to my own creative desires and to leave the work commissioned by clients. I had no options after that long and hard process, so I decided to put all the meat in the grill, overcome my fears and trust in my vision. That’s how I came to this.

Jupilings: Who are your protagonists- 

AM: I want to believe that my protagonists are the hybrid beings that appear in our dreams, inhabitants of a parallel world that we only access either during deep sleep or through the use of psychotropic substances, and that nevertheless, we perceive them as coming, like a déjà vu that reminds us that there is more to reality than what we perceive with our physical senses.

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Déjà vu – Antonio Mora

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

AM: I think that throughout my work emerges a certain mystical, mythological sense in the classical sense, where the forces of nature take on a human form. Many titles are The Young Zeus, the Cyclops, Nymph, Persephone, Caribdis, Aquarida.

Nature as a soul-endowed force that, when transmuted in person, brings us closer to it. My portraits are often portraits of gods or heroes that we could have been.

Jupilings: As an artist, what role and social responsibility you shoulder-

AM: Although there are innumerable ways of understanding it, I conceive art in the classical sense, the search for intrinsic truth for beauty. In a society like the current one where through social networks we see tons of ugliness, trash, and injustice, my modest contribution is to create beauty that inspires others and that raises a wall against the mediocrity and vulgarity that invades us. I think that is my duty as an artist.

Jupilings: “Creative people are an idealist and live a colourful and chaotic life”, what do you think of this statement-

AM: It is a generality and as such susceptible to be interpreted in different ways but in my case, it is correct, although the colour is sometimes of a rather dark hue, and indeed the chaos is a constant in my life, I am messy, often imprecise and erratic. I wrote a long time ago that the artist feels himself with stupor as if he should not be there, as if he were not part of the reality in which the whole world lives. I thought it was a gift and it turned out to be a condemnation, once said an artist friend, my mentor, who died, unfortunately. Someone like him, chaotic by nature, knew how to inspire in me, and in many others (he was an art teacher) that life and therefore beauty arise from chaos.

into the wall
Into the wall, Antonio Mora

Jupilings: As a creative individual, you have a reflective nature, hence you are inclined to dive deeper into your fears, insecurities, or setbacks, where do you draw a line to stop and regain your sense of motivation and meaning in life to keep charging ahead? What is your coping mechanism, a routine, a friend, ….?-

AM: My mechanism is the constant creation, the progressive approach through creative work to the idea that I intend to bring to light. This, which often produces a feeling of ecstasy, also in many cases generates enormous anguish. To shake it off, fortunately, is my wife, my children, my dogs, who walk daily through the palm groves that surround my atelier in Elche (Spain).

It relaxes me to cook, to drink wine with my friends. Fortunately, very close to where I live, is the sea and a small and beautiful island where I go very often. As soon as I reach her, my anguish dissipates. In short, my life is the life of a normal person, or at least as normal as my nature allows me to be.

sea girl
Sea Girl, Antonio Mora

Jupilings: What is one undisclosed or mysterious piece of information about yourself, you would bravely share with your audience:

AM: Hahaha, that question could put me in a compromise. When I was 18 years old I tried LSD, since then my perspective on the world changed. I perceived that there were parallel worlds. No, of course, I did not take it for a long time, it scares me. However, I do allow myself to smoke some marijuana when I am faced with a creative process. It is the key through which I can reopen that door that opened in my youth.

red wind
Red wind, Antonio Mora

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you-

AM: It jumps to the sight that I am an admirer of the woman, of the power of the woman, of its beauty. More than 90% of my portraits have women as protagonists. As a creator of life and a source of inspiration. I wrote once that the passion of the woman is the force that moves the world, I continue to subscribe. I am sure that the world would work much better if it were the women who governed it.

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Mother, Antonio Mora

Jupilings: When you start a creative project, how do you overcome self-doubt –

AM: Fortunately, I have a lot of experience and many years of preparation that allow me to save the initial doubts with a certain ease. However, that doubt always lurks, especially if I will be able to generate something really new and not copy myself.

I receive many custom orders. There yes, the doubts begin, since not only I have to satisfy myself but to manage to transmit my satisfaction to the client and that is not an easy task.

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Ruins, Antonio Mora

Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why-

AM: I would be Lucidman. Always able to have immediately the creative response at hand that would allow me to disturb the conscience of others.

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor- 

AM: I would have liked to be George Baines (Harvey Keitel), in The Piano. A tormented and unforgettable character.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

AM: Live and let live.

 

To learn more and for commissioned artwork please refer to mylovt.com.

 

The Power Of Patience – Foundation of Mindfulness #2

What patience is not is tolerance. It is wisdom to recognize that things unfold in their way, and there is always a motive or explanation behind crude incidences or maddening behaviors of people. Patience is to grasp that an act’s expediency, such as getting angry, does not clarify or resolve frustration encountered by unexpected circumstances.

The intensity of what annoys or displeases is how you perceive the intentions. Still, whether deliberate or accidental, it is up to you to fuel haste into a situation out of fear and anxiety or to realize that you will benefit from a strong pull on your impulses.

During your lifespan, confrontation happens, and on many occasions, your rage starts to mount. Although, knowing well that keeping your temper under control is the wisest choice, it is not an easy task. How can you interrupt the impatience and remain calm in the face of irritating people? Well, according to the French philosopher Emile-August Chartier (known as Alain): “Never say that people are evil, you just need to look for the pin”. Consciously assuming that some internal suffering drives others’ irrational behaviors that cause agony, surely will support your efforts to curb the anger. Switching your emotions from agitation to compassion and empathy allows you to control your thoughts and actions.

 

 

Art by Aykutmaykut
Art by Aykutmaykut

We can grow out of the habit of impatience, mindfully. Clearly, you are aware of nature, change of seasons, the harvest, or the metamorphosis of butterflies; the common thread is that the process has different stages and is on a different timetable. In nature, you wait for the full cycle with patience; maybe if you apply the same principle in all your endeavors, the course of action and the psyche during the undertaking will allow you to be in the moment and live a rewarding life.

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Art by Aykutmaykut

Try these strategies to cultivate patience: 

  • Set a rule: lean back, take deep breaths, and count to 15 if the tension is rising.
  • Scan your body and relax the tense muscles.
  • Consciously choose to be calm.
  • Act patient, talk slowly.
  • Actively listen.
  • Practice empathy the same way you offer it to children
  • Remind yourself that unpleasant, frustrating, and dreadful circumstances arise, and it is out of your control. The only thing that you have full control over is your ability to remain patient.

 

Beginner’s Mind – Foundation of Mindfulness # 3

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

Shunryo Suzuki

Past experiences and preconceived ideas have great value when it comes to making decisions about everyday activities. However, they are tainted to the degree that we cannot absorb the new reality of the present time or the face value of an action, a discussion, or a situation. It is always comfortable to skim through the information to support and validate our previous experience; nevertheless, we tend to lose the possibility of learning a new way of doing things or transforming our ideas for the better by seeing things with fresh eyes.

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Art by Magritte – The Human Condition

Everybody knows that some things are simply impossible until somebody who doesn’t know that makes them possible. - Albert Einstein

The real problem starts when you are an expert, one who has more assumptions than questions. Fending off new ways of doing things or not being receptive to new ideas happens to the experienced. An apprehension swishes and contaminates the mind, which in turn will end up either with cherry-picking to justify the established rules and practices or simply dismissal of the new approach.

When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavour to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here. Much like a scientist who observes without bias, beginner’s mind allows us to collect raw data. This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning. — Tracy Ochester.

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Art by Magritte – The treachery of images

A beginner’s mind is keen to meet a new person, have a fresh outlook on familiar people, or learn a new skill. Practicing beginners’ minds (or shoshin in Japanese Zen Buddhism) feeds a growth mindset. An outlook that refuses to have more of the same for the rest of its life knows well that the safety zone is not always the right place to be. It stales the mind and prevents you from growing and reaching your potential. By default, we prefer to stay in our comfort zone, yet adopting a growth mindset requires courage to embrace vulnerability and humility. To acknowledge that there is always a better way of doing things or when it comes to human relations, we give people the benefit of the doubt.

Ways to Cultivate a beginner’s mind

  • Adopt the notion that endless possibilities exist.
  • Switch off the autopilot mode. 
  • Be in the present moment.
  • Listen carefully when a familiar topic comes up; you don’t have to rush to express your opinion or add value; observe and ask questions like you didn’t know about the subject.
  • Explore something to re-experience the feelings; it can be basic as eating your meal or making your bed.
  • Stop labeling and notice that you are on auto judgment – Ask yourself why you consider things as bad, good, right, or wrong? Is it out of habit? Integrate seeing things in your life as they are!
  • Learn a new activity to integrate challenges to your comfort zone
  • Mingle with people who have a different view of life and explore their perspective and lifestyle.
  • Change a routine in your life, your walking route, exercise, or things you eat. 
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation – it weakens the habit of taking things for granted.

 

For more information, read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Featured Image by aykutaydogdu

Trust – Foundation of Mindfulness # 4

“In practising mindfulness, you are practising taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to listen to and trust your own being.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

In a world full of endless choices and challenges, self-doubt is the non-stop humming in the background. The overwhelming feeling from the incoming mixed messages in our head is confusing and debilitating, and exhausting. Feeling stuck or lost happens when our brain cannot make sense of the outside information or process the internal feeling associated with the new context.

Our capacity to feel confident and make decisions based on our authentic self is to shield our brain from the bombardment of mixed messages from the outside world and the numbing of our useless tweets in our head.

It is possible to learn how to trust yourself and start making decisions, yet; you have to accept that emotional vulnerability is part of the formula. Growth and transformation are not possible without the willingness to be exposed to discomfort and anxiety.

You can cultivate trust by shifting your attention from external and pointing it towards yourself. Paying attention to your emotions, experiences, and thoughts with a nonjudgmental attitude builds confidence in yourself and your potential. Gradually, you realize that all the incapacitating walls you have built over the years to defend yourself against challenges are not that daunting. As you learn to trust your inner resources, you grow confidence in your strength, and the threats weaken in whatever might come up.

Ways to increase self-trust

  • Be aware of your thoughts and feelings as much as you are focused on what you are doing – Whenever doubt creeps in, retreat, contemplate and identify the source of the emotions. Do not reject or judge your feelings; being uncertain means that you don’t have enough knowledge. This insight gives you the clarity to charge ahead and learn.
  • Be conscious of signals from your physical body, cravings, pain, or pleasure. As your body continues to perform its function, such as breathing or blood circulation, the concept of trust moves from perception to reality. An abstract idea manifests in the form of a physical system. This realization gives you no reason to doubt your capacity.
  • Make a list of all the qualities you like about yourself. Once you become aware of all your capabilities and virtues, you have created an intimate relationship with your trustworthy self. Rationally, when you are competent, reliable, and sincere, there is no reason not to trust yourself.
  • Recognize those poor choices you have made in the past that do not define your nor set in stone your path and destiny.
  •  Respect your feelings as much as you respect others.
  • Express your views and give input when you do have an opinion.

Like anything, you can establish an intellectual trust with yourself by setting the intention, paying attention and practice. For more information, please refer to mindfulness meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

 

 

Non-Striving – Foundation of Mindfulness # 5

One of the pillars of mindfulness meditation is based on non-striving. An attitude that helps us disconnect our energy & emotions to the outcome of a task at hand or a pursuit. What it means is that the only thing worth striving for is to be in the moment. Like in a meditative state, you seek to stay calm and reach the highest point of being; the non-striving approach shifts your focus from the result to the action.

The idea is not to abandon your desires and goals in life. On the contrary, it is about you pushing that boulder up the hill and not looking at the peak of the mountain but have your eyes on the rock while using your energy to push it forward. Recognizing that you and your diligent efforts are good enough, no matter the outcome.

 

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Igor Morski Art

Nike’s slogan “Just do it!” is the perfect example of a mental state that has set a goal, is fully immersed in the performance, and is not controlled by the result. To give you a clear image of how to practice a non-striving attitude is to partner your goals to your intentions. Let’s say you have set a goal to complete a project at work by a particular time. Now, if you integrate your goal to expand your knowledge and nurture your team, then the stress will be reduced, challenges will be seen as opportunities, and the exchange of ideas and support will be welcomed. The reason is that intentions within you set the tone to move towards your goals and life in general. Once you are clear about your intentions, the focus on the course of action will drive you to do your best without anxiety or stressing over the unknown future.

Non-striving takes patience and a non-judging mindset. Every day choose an activity to loosen the grip to an outcome. For example, you go for a walk every day to lose 10 pounds. The goal is clear; now add the intention to enjoy the scenery and greet everyone you meet along the way. Pay close attention to your body and emotions when tension arises every time you think about your goal, and when you let go of the outcome. The exercise will cultivate the strength to detach and learn the non-doing attitude.

On the final note, the ability to stay focused is the driver to reach your goals. Never allow the feeling of worry or the uncertainty of an outcome derails you from materializing your dreams.

For more information on mindfulness meditation, read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. 

Make It Happen! How To Change Your Mindset & Thrive.

The present time is full of possibilities, so why can we not edit our thoughts to actually see the threads that can lead to a desirable experience? Almost always, the answer boils down to our inner struggles to keep things together! Every day, we are bombarded by stressful questions or circumstances, by the urgency of decision-making, or feeling anxious about the unknown future. We might have a master plan; however, we will encounter setbacks or disasters along the way. Often, the course of actions needs to be modified, adjusted, refined, or totally removed to be replaced by the new approach.

Appropriately, we all need supporting tools, strategies, and definitely a mindset that helps us manage stress, anxieties, and improve the quality of life and our wellbeing. Deep interrogation of our attitudes reveals how we see the world and what mindset determines our value system. In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford Professor Carol Dweck distinguishes between fixed and growth mindsets. Her research clearly shows the difference between the two extremes. The fixed mindset has no safety net for challenges and disappointments, and the growth mindset develops tolerance in the face of adversity and frustrations. 

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If there is a seedling of desire planted in your heart, despite a voice in your head sending signals “No, this cannot be done,….”, make no mistake you are suffering from a fixed mindset! It’s time to pay close attention to your thought patterns. The good news is that you can develop a growth mindset.

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Art by Igor Morski

Invariably, we need to change our inner dialogue, identify our limiting beliefs, and cultivate a set of attitudes that will respond supportively and intelligently to uncertainties and setbacks. The amount of time we put into self-deprecating can be thrust into deliberate practice.

The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

Carol Dweck

Consider the following steps to shape a growth mindset and strengthen your abilities:

  •  Mindful self-knowledge – consciously start examining your attitudes and your intentions. Detach yourself from your self-made identity. Take a bird’s eye of your inner perception and your destructive & hindering thoughts. Notice the triggers. Replace them with the desired mental pictures, value learning, and efforts more than innate intelligence.
  • Apply strategies into your daily routine– to develop a new communication network in your brain. Include mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, as an integral part of your day-to-day life, strengthening your neural pathways’ connections. Erase negative self-talk, create positive core belief that you can improve your abilities, and learn new skills.
  • “The power of yet” – (Carol Dweck) replacing the “I am not good at this,…” with “I am not good at this, YET,..”
  • Try new things – It helps with self-compassion and understanding of others, especially in difficult or worrisome situations. A beginner’s mind is curious, resilient, and creative.
  • Keep in mind that knowing is not enough! You need to practice!
  •  

Next, I will look into “7 attitudinal foundations of mindfulness practice” for us to monitor our inner dialogue to make good use of our neurons and rewire our brain.

 

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Art by Sonia Rentsch

Featured image by Aykutaydogdu

How to feel lasting joy?

I have been contemplating the word joy or happiness in the past few years if I may use them interchangeably. What’s best for me, what gives me pleasure, and most importantly, how do I measure my well-being? Typically, our pursuits, interests, experiences, and how we choose to live form part of our well-being value list. Hopping from the linguistic meaning of the word to the spectrum of emotions defined by psychology and finally to the philosophical value of joy, I was on a mission to find my answers.

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Cyril Rolando

The first lesson was that life could go well or not and influence our state of mind; however, to feel joy is about orienting the heart towards peace. Taking a dip into the real meaning of pleasure was to remove all the superficial layers of how people portray their personality as a smiling emoji. At the same time, one could observe their tensions and frustrations.

I learned that it is OK to explore, and you are not obligated to smile all the time and pretend to be cheery when you are fearful, frustrated or when your incredible inner hulk is about to pop up. All the emotional rollercoaster ride had nothing to do with feeling genuine joy.

Deep down, we all can feel happiness! If you have no desire to be part of the pretentious Cheshire cat group on a merry go round, then start the inner-reflection. Hush all the noise of what encapsulates joy characterized by the latest trends in cultural concepts, social belief, or editorial images and re-connect to your heart.

Throughout civilization, whether through Eastern or Western philosophies and scientific research, the indication that the heart is the most important organ in the human body is prevalent. From Aristotle or Abu-Nasr al-Farabi, Ninth century Arabic philosopher, to Prof. Paul Pearsall, a clinical neuropsychologist and clinical professor of the University of Hawaii, they all pointed to the power of the heart to store memory, a center of reason and having the ability to think. Prof. Pearsall’s research on heart transplant patients indicated the possibility that a donor’s personality traits transfer to the recipient. The parallels ranged from the same taste in food and music to sexual and job preferences. Moreover, the electrical frequencies of our hearts are much stronger than our brains. Importantly, our heart transmits many instructions to the brain on what to do.

Our heart and brain communicate in four ways: 1- Neurologically, via nerve impulses, 2- Energetically, via magnetic fields, 3- Biochemically, via hormones and neuro transmitting chemicals, 4- Biophysically, via blood flow. The energetic interaction of the heart, most specifically the heart’s magnetic field, envelops every cell of the body and extends out in all directions, 6 to 10 feet, into space. Hence, the coherence between the heart and the brain is vital to feel joy. This state of flow is to quiet your mind and to open your heart.

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Only for you – Catrin Welz-Stein

During the chaos, confusion, or heartbreak, align your self-healing power with the concept of peace. The harmony and the lack of hostility take the individual to a time in the future. If we have the capacity to lower our blood pressure, improve our hormonal balance to recover from heart attacks, then we are able to self-regulate independent of the external conditions. A clear intention to feel joy elevates the electrical charge and serves as a magnet. Knowing that happiness is one of the heart’s elevated feelings, learning about self-regulation and practice leads to lasting fulfillment.
By improving brain function through the heart, we reach mental clarity and discern a joy greater and more profound than a smile.

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Cyril Rolando

The second lesson was to stop judging and getting over the fear of being judged. Being compared, evaluated, or to make a judgment are exhausting sentiments. Recognize that the anxiety of disappointment, fear of failure, or shame is just a perception. By opening your heart to find harmony and immersing yourself and others into the created space, the judgments become irrelevant and unworthy.

Mastering to use your heart’s wisdom allows you to reach the inner-peace and a fulfilling relationship with yourself, which can immensely impact and be the magnet for the pursuit of happiness and life you want to lead.

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Cyril Rolando

Featured image by Cyril Rolando

Luxury Brands and Sustainability​

There’s no greater gift than thinking that you had some impact on the world, for the better.

Gloria Steinem

In today’s word, the meaning of luxury in fashion has evolved from serving to distinguish social status to involving exclusivity, being timeless, offering impeccable craftsmanship and last but not least use of sustainable practices. Ethical luxury fashion brands are being mindful of this shift and the dynamics of these social-cultural changes. Whether private or public, the consumers and investors evaluate and form an opinion on the fashion brands based on their ethical sourcing to production, and their balanced, diversified and fair governance.  The truth is that the informed and connected stakeholders care about our planet and definitely, this is not a fad!  They have the power to boycott a brand, and unquestionably they care about their future. These standards echo the sentiment of the 21st century.

The mindfulness of modern society has influenced the creators and investors to reconsider the factors of evaluation and profit. The common thread for all is sustainability. Clearly, the short-term profitability is important still, staying the darling of the luxury aficionados community is about masterminding sustainable policies and directions. Introducing quality products that benefit everyone including the whole supply chain and our planet’s natural resources must be the grand title of their brand strategy.

The conscious luxury brands such as Gabriela Hearst, a New York-based fashion designer has proven that her investment in ethical sourcing and the use of environmentally friendly materials in her collections are beneficial for her clientele, business and our planet. Her conviction that sustainability is necessary for high luxury fashion is apparent in every stage of her fashion sphere. Manos del Uruguay, a 50-year-old nonprofit that empowers rural women, manufactures Hearst’s fluffy cashmere. Or creating bags to raise funds for Save the Children’s relief efforts in the drought-stricken Turkana region of Kenya. Her philosophy to conserve and repurpose or that quality outshines quantity, “I tell people to buy one good thing of quality, not five cheap things”, is admirable in an industry that flourishes on desirability and consumption.

 

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Nina Bag by Gabriel Hearst

 

 

Baume & Mercier’s, one of Richemont’s eight watch brands, shares the same value and vision of the mindful consumers. Their commitment to the ethical use of natural sources such as diamond and gold, leathers that respect the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and their partnership with NGO 1001 Fontaines & College Champittet to provide access to drinking water in Cambodia, represents this century’s mindset.

 

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According to McKinsey & Company, 70 per cent of consumers are willing to pay some premium for items produced sustainably, based on responses of 90 department store buyers in 25 countries responsible for 50 billion euros in the annual purchase. These figures strongly suggest that investing in sustainable technology to produce quality while helping local communities to thrive from their work will be rewarding for all concerned.  This approach supported with government policies will satisfy the expectations of the subconscious desires and excitement of the consumption, and the result will quench the investor’s appetite.

The customer’s concern over environmental waste, human rights violations or wrongdoings, has impelled the investors to care about the true nature of impacts of luxury brands whether in local communities around the world, within their workforce in bustling cities or on nature since these positions determine the outcome for shareholders.

In 2018, Burberry was named the leading luxury brand in Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The British heritage label explored and implemented socially and environmentally responsible practices from investing in the communities to taking measures to partner with sustainable luxury company Elvis & Kresse to turn 120 tonnes of wasted leather offcuts into saleable products. It has also obtained 48 per cent of its total energy from renewable sources, an increase of 24 per cent from the previous year. 

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Burberry 

 

Empowering marginalized communities and protecting the planet drive innovation and fosters growth for all inhabitants on earth. It takes courage and moral judgement to initiate positive impact and bring together socially driven enterprises and investors to launch and scale these ventures.  The luxury brands together with social investing funds are responsible to take action and be transparent vis a vis their sustainability initiatives. At the same time, consumers need to start re-thinking their purchasing habits and embody socially-good causes into their decision making. Cultivating the belief that style is a reflection of our attitude, which can be used to make a positive impact and not just an impression, is effortlessly sophisticated. 

Featured image from Harper Bazaar 

Find Your Personal Style with Barbara Aleks

First impressions matter! The reality is that the relationship between our appearance and the way we act is noticeably strong. A few years ago, a study carried out by two psychologists, Hajo Adams and Adam Galinsky have shown that attire and the symbolic meaning of it influence wearer’s cognitive processes and coined the term “enclothed cognition”. In one of the experiments, they divided people into two groups; group one wore regular street clothes and the group two wore their normal clothes and a white lab coat. Both groups were asked to perform tests measuring their mental agility. The result was that group two performed much better than group one. The same results were observed in a similar experiment when both groups were given white coats; however, group one was described as painters and group two as doctors.

There is so much more to our self-expression through our fashion style that we can imagine among many things to consider that shape our image, is the opinions of others. Therefore, finding our style, one that is authentic and represents the real in us needs guidance and planning. Carving an image that stimulates our abilities, defines our prowess and is a consistent mirror-image of our character demand a consultant. In fact, I had the opportunity to interview a fabulous Canadian Image and Style consultant, Barbara Aleks to learn about her career and tips on how to develop a personal and professional style.

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Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you started as a stylist & image consultant-

BA: My mother was an extremely talented seamstress who worked in the garment district in Toronto, so I grew up around fabric, clothing and dressing people. I actually designed my first dress when I was 4. It was just a part of my life.

When it came to a career though, I chose to get into Interior Design as a profession and worked in the field until I had my first child. After my second was born, I started helping some of the other new moms with their wardrobes, and my passion was reignited.

Once I made the decision to transition into Personal Styling, I obtained my certification in Image Consulting and officially started my business. I have worked for myself, styling women ever since.

Jupilings: What are the qualities and skill sets that make a successful stylist-

BA: There are many qualities and skill sets that make a successful Personal Stylist. Aside from the obvious – being knowledgeable about fabrics, cuts, body shapes, skin tones, combining clothing pieces, different colours and patterns, knowing how to style those pieces, keeping abreast of what’s current – a Stylist also needs to be both intuitive and adaptable.

Every client is unique. They have different likes, dislikes, preferences, styles, comfort levels, limits. They also have their own pasts and experiences that shape their thought processes. Stylists have to truly understand the people they’re working with and be able to adapt their strategies to help their clients achieve the best results.

Jupilings: What approach you suggest to develop a personal style-

BA: When trying to develop a style all your own, I suggest becoming clear on what you’re drawn to and then modifying it to suit your preferences and lifestyle.

One exercise I suggest when trying to determine your style is to hop on a platform like Pinterest, create a board, and start pinning anything you’re drawn to – clothing pieces, outfits, accessories, etc. Pulling images from the internet or magazines works too. Once you have a good collection of photos, scroll through them and note the similarities. Whatever you’re drawn to, you’re drawn to for a reason. That’s your style. From there, take all the information you’ve gathered and adapt it to suit your life.

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Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-

BA: Have a clear and strong brand and be consistent across the board – both visually and in the message. For example – choose your brand colours, fonts, visual style and written style, and stick to them. It provides people with a certain comfort level and improves the trust factor.

Jupilings: Three tips for female executives in the boardroom or top managerial
positions on how to choose the colour and the proper attire overall how to
dress for success-

BA: If you’re a woman in an executive or leadership role, you need to dress the part – especially if you’re new to the team or building your reputation. Here are three tips to help you achieve that:

1. Wear structured clothing with strong lines, avoiding soft, flowing fabrics. When you want to be seen as a leader, you must present yourself as someone who holds power. Structured clothes with strong lines will elicit more power than clothing with softer lines and flowing fabric.

2. Wear fitted clothing. Clothing that skims your body and fits well makes you appear more qualified and authoritative than loose, ill-fitting clothing (which just makes you appear sloppy, messy and doesn’t instil confidence).

3. Wear dark or bold colours or geometric patterns. These colours and patterns are stronger and more commanding than soft, light colours and floral patterns. While this might seem like a subtle change to make, when you’re a woman in a leadership position, every little bit helps.

Jupilings: Top 5 accessories to have in your wardrobe that reflect status to self-
expression specifically for professionals-

 BA:

1. Good watch
2. Pearl or diamond (real or faux) stud earrings for women and cufflinks for men
3. Structured top handle handbag for women and briefcase for men
4. Leather belt always kept in like-new condition
5. The best quality shoes you can afford, kept in great condition

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Jupilings: Your favourite accessories designers-

BA: Love Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Dior for accessories. From timeless classics to trendier pieces, all four provide incredible options season after season.

Jupilings: What colours are best suited and universally accepted in a business meeting for Female/Male regardless of cultural differences-

BA: You can’t go wrong with Navy and Charcoal Gray when it comes to business – male or female. The one thing to remember is to keep your look classic and conservative. Always err on the side of caution. If you’re doing business with someone of a different culture, do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re not going to offend in any way.

Jupilings: What is the proper professional attire for a politician to come across as
approachable (of course depending on the settings) however my questions
is more geared towards appealing to millennials-

BA: Even though a politician might be appealing to millennials and wants to come across as approachable, they’re still in a leadership role and should dress in a professional manner. That said, they can relax their appearance in a variety of ways. The more relaxed (and less severe) someone looks, the more approachable they appear.

For Men:
A jacket with jeans is more relaxed than a suit. (Dark wash jeans are a better choice than light wash jeans.) If a suit is required, removing the tie also helps. If no jacket is required, a button down shirt is more professional than a collared golf shirt or t-shirt, worn with either slacks or jeans. Folding the sleeves of a button down shirt a couple of times also relaxes the look.

For Women:
Similar to what I mentioned for men, a jacket or blazer with a skirt, dress or pants (whether jeans or slacks) is more relaxed than a suit. If no suit, jacket or blazer is required, a button down shirt or blouse is more professional than a shirt or t-shirt, paired with either a skirt or pants. Structured or fitted skirts or dresses are more professional than loose or flowing ones; however, judgment is required when choosing which is best for the occasion. When wearing a button down shirt or blazer, folding the sleeves a couple of times or pushing them up to the forearm, provides an easy, relaxed feel.

As a politician, you don’t need to dress like a millennial to appeal to a millennial. The last thing you want to do is look like you’re trying to be one of them – especially if you’re clearly not. Beyond attire, your words and your mannerisms have a great deal to do with how approachable you may or may not seem.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

BA: When a setback occurs, the first thing I do is allow myself to feel the frustration, disappointment, or whatever feeling shows up, and get it out of my system. Then I take a moment, regroup, put a new plan together and get to work. When you’re self-employed or own your own business, there’s no stopping. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-

BA: My children are my greatest inspiration. Everything I do is for them. They’re amazing people, and I want them to have an incredible life. One of the reasons I started working for myself was so that I could be there for them, and set my work hours around their schedules. I also wanted them to see that you can find something you love and are passionate about, make a career or business out of it, and find success in nontraditional ways.

Jupilings: Favourite place to chill with friends in Toronto-

BA: The Deq patio at the Ritz on a hot summer night is often where you’ll find me. Although any place that has good food, great wine, decent cocktails and a pleasant atmosphere, where we can hear each speak and have a decent conversation, will do.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

BA: I have three. Never give up, go with your gut, and if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.

If something is important and really matters to me, I don’t give up. I may have to course correct and make adjustments, but I keep going. Also, these days, I always trust my instincts and follow them. I wasted so much time in the past listening to other people’s opinions and advice over my own guidance and then wondered why things didn’t work out. Not any more. Now I go inside, check in with myself and make my decisions. Then I let “I” go. Because if I’ve put in the work and trusted myself, then if it’s truly meant to be, it’ll be. If it’s not, I’ll move on.

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