2015: Storytelling, Platelets & Facebook, Oh My!

2015: what a long, strange road it’s been.

Our visitors and views climbed for the 4th straight year!

Thank you for visiting the CCC blog this year! We’re excited to see an increase in visitors and views for the 4th straight year, each year of our existence.

We publish a wide range of content and that showed in the diversity of our most viewed posts in 2015.

Our top 5 posts as voted by your eyeballs:

  1. The Psychology of Color: Following Guides or Going With Your Gut?
  2. To Give or Not To Give…
  3. 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook
  4. Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization
  5. Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Bonus: Things I Carry: Pen and Paper (missed the top 5 by 1 view)

As wide-ranging as our content is, it all leads back to our four main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection (including entrepreneurship/small business).

Our fourth most viewed post this year was written by one of our contributors, Carol Preibis from Ahh the Simple Life. If you would like to contribute an article (or series), check out our guest blogger invite.

We’ve had contributors from all over the world, just like our audience. Here are the top 5 countries that read our blog:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Brazil
  4. India
  5. Canada

How did our visitors find us? Search engines refer most of our traffic, although social media plays a role too. Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook all sent readers to our front door.

We look at analytics to help us craft future content, but we’d love to hear from you! Are there any subjects that you’d love to see an article on in 2016? How about follow-ups to any articles you’ve read? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or contact us to make your voice heard.

Chime in on 2015 (and beyond)!

What was your favorite article or series on the CCC blog?
What country do you join us from?
How did you first find the CCC blog?
What topic(s) would you like to see covered in 2016?
How will you ring in the New Year?

As we count down toward the ball drop, enjoy one of my favorite memories of last year.

In 2016, may we all be champions.

Happy New Year!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about content, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Sunshine Award Nomination From Ahh The Simple Life

Passions are meant to be embraced...

CCC is honored to accept the Sunshine Award from Ahh the Simple Life! It’s an award one blogger gives to other bloggers “who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” Carol Preibis, co-founder of Ahh the Simple LIfe, is a contributor to the CCC blog and also recently published an eGuide, Living a Good Life: Live a Meaningful, Happy and Fulfilling Life, which we reviewed here. Check it out!

Living a Good Life by Carol Ann Preibis

Are you living a good life?

Read Ahh the Simple Life’s nominating post (and learn more about Carol!) here.

*** How does the Sunshine Award work? ***

Upon nomination, bloggers accepting the Sunshine Award should:

  • thank the nominating blog and answer the questions it posed
  • nominate other bloggers
  • ask the bloggers you nominate the same number of questions as you received
  • notify the bloggers you have nominated

*** Ahh the Simple Life Asks and CCC Answers ***

1) Why did you begin blogging, and what keeps you going?

I started the CCC blog on April 7, 2012, during the formation of my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications. Our goal has always been to inform and educate our loyal readers in the ever-changing areas of marketing, writing and social media, although sometimes we take the scenic route.

“Where else can you read about MacGyver, Marketing and Leg Lamp Cookies?”

It’s been a strange and wild ride, but we hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. Sometimes we wonder what kind of impact we’re making, so it’s always refreshing to hear from you!

2) What is your favorite topic to write about? 

Although the diversity of the CCC blog seems to be a big draw, I love to write, even about writing. Maybe especially about writing. Our series on the writing process is my favorite series to date on this blog.

My favorite series on the CCC blog is about the writing process.

My favorite series on the CCC blog is about the writing process. Have you read it?

3) What is your favorite inspirational film? 

While Rocky’s victory over Apollo Creed is the epitome of the classic underdog story, I love Field of Dreams. (We even blogged about it, in relation to blogging of course.) Not only does this movie focus on baseball, it’s message of being selfless and following your dreams still resonates today.

Let’s face it: some people will think you’re crazy for following your dreams, and listening to a voice in your cornfield ranks right up there.

My favorite inspirational film outside of the sports world is Goodwill Hunting.

4) How would you describe your perfect day? 

My perfect day would begin when I wake up naturally, no alarm in sight. After taking in the amazing view, I’d saunter downstairs to brew some espresso for a delicious, handcrafted latte, which I’d enjoy with fresh fruit and peanut butter on toast. The rest of my perfect day would be spent reading, writing and enjoying nature, via a trail run or hike. After a vigorous swim (and maybe some paddle boarding), we’d grill some mouth-watering fish for dinner and sit around the fire, toasting s’mores and telling stories.

5) What is the greatest challenge facing humanity today?

While our challenges are numerous, so many come back to the massive (and growing) income inequality problem. It’s disturbing how quickly people label someone not firmly upper middle class as lazy or ignorant (or both). Teachers, social workers and entrepreneurs may be some of the hardest-working people you meet, but their skills aren’t valued in our society nearly as much as professional athletes and rock stars. (No, all entrepreneurs aren’t Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg.) It’ll be interesting to see how this issue affects all of us in the coming years.

6) If you could travel anywhere on the globe, where would you go?

I would love to travel nonstop, experiencing other cultures and traditions, although I would make Italy (or a tropical island) my home base. I’ve long been interested in exploring my Italian roots, and I love water. Someday, I’ll wake up to a beautiful water view.

*** 6 Questions for CCC’s Nominees ***

  1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
  2. What activity makes you happy?
  3. What’s your favorite song, and why?
  4. What’s one thing that you have learned this year?
  5. Who has been a mentor, role model or hero at any time during your life?
  6. What’s something that your blogging audience doesn’t know about you?

*** CCC’s Sunshine Award Nominees ***

Seyi Sandra at seyisandradavid

Lesley Carter at Bucket List Publications

Tyler Pedersen at The ancient eavesdropper

Lyla Larimore at A Chief’s Wife’s Heart’s ‘aFire

While our nominees are under no obligation to acknowledge or accept their Sunshine Award, we’re grateful of what they bring to the blogosphere. Take a few minutes to visit their blogs and explore what makes them tick. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Congratulations to our nominees, and a heartfelt thank you to Carol Preibis at Ahh the Simple Life for the nomination. One of the biggest blessings of blogging is the fellow bloggers that you meet, and Carol is at the top of my list.

We’d also like to thank our loyal readers! Without you, we’d be writing to ourselves in a public forum. We hope that you continue to find our content valuable and take a moment to drop us a note once in awhile. In turn, we’ll keep on keeping on trying to educate, inform, entertain and inspire.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on sunshine, blogging, dancing in the rain or otherwise):
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A Guide To Introducing Mindfulness Into Your Workplace

Meditation by Konstantin Stepanov via CC BY 2.0

“A number of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, AOL, Apple and Aetna, offer meditation and mindfulness classes for employees — and the top executives of many major corporations say that meditation has made them better leaders.”

— Carolyn Gregoire “The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People

In her article “The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People,” Huffington Post senior writer Carolyn Gregoire presents 10 influential business leaders who say meditation has helped them achieve (and sustain) a high level of success. The list includes Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington has brought meditation into her company, offering weekly classes for AOL and Huffington Post employees.

Let’s take a look at some mindfulness practices that are being integrated into workplaces.

Jeremy Hunter’s Article

In this terrific infographic, “Your Mind at Work,” Jeremy Hunter teaches us “new ways to approach those niggling challenges in the office.”

Your-Mind-At-Work

Jeremy Hunter serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. A PDF version of his article, “Is Mindfulness Good for Business?” may be downloaded here. The article first appeared in the premiere (April 2013) issue of Mindful

Breathing Exercises

Just-Breathe-Steve-Jurvetson

Just Breathe by Steve Jurvetson via CC BY 2.0 (https://flic.kr/p/7V8jKv)

There are a number of different simple breathing exercises that can be done virtually anywhere.

Here is one from the website of Dr. Andrew Weil:

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise

This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day; you cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little light-headed when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens — before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.

Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 Breath.

Walking Meditation

Kinhin

Members of Kanzeon Zen Center during kinhin

In Buddhism, kinhin (Chinese: 経行; pinyin: jīngxíng; Japanese pronunciation: kinhin, kyōgyō; Korean: gyeonghyaeng; Vietnamese: kinh hành) is the walking meditation that is practiced between long periods of the sitting meditation known as zazen.[1] The practice is common in Chan Buddhism and its extra-Chinese forms, Zen, Korean Seon and Vietnamese Thiền.

Wikipedia

Walking meditation is one of the simplest meditation practices, and ideal for workplace breaks.

“Walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking. It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it. Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace. You can feel truly at ease with yourself. Your steps can be those of the healthiest, most secure person on earth. All sorrows and worries can drop away while you are walking. To have peace of mind, to attain self-liberation, learn to walk in this way. It is not difficult. You can do it. Anyone can do it who has some degree of mindfulness and a true intention to be happy.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh, “A Guide to Walking Meditation

Meditation Freedom Podcast

The Meditation Freedom podcast contains “interesting interviews with long-time practitioners, teachers, authors, and other folks with longtime meditation and mindfulness practices.”

I highly recommend  “MF 26 – How to Easily Bring Meditation into Your Workplace!“. The author shows you “how you can incorporate ‘mini’-meditations and mindfulness at your place of work, without having to look weird, or needing a, ‘meditation room’.

Drew Hansen’s Guide

Forbes contributor Drew Hansen has given us a wealth of information in his article “A Guide To Mindfulness At Work“. Hansen has brought together ideas and resources from many different sources, and the content includes several useful links.

Introducing mindfulness into your workplace can be a simple, gradual process.

The benefits to the individual, the workplace, and humanity are immeasurable!

This is part two of a two-part series, Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. You can read part one here. If you’re a regular reader of the CCC blog, you’ll recognize Carol as a contributor. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

How To Improve Your Productivity With Mindfulness in the Workplace

Meditation Meditation by Moyan Brenn via CC BY 2.0

There has been rapid growth in workplace mindfulness programs, and there are some compelling reasons why this is a good thing!

“The enormous benefits of mindfulness at work are increasingly being recognized by employers as well as by employees. More mindfulness means more professional productivity and satisfaction, and less absenteeism, `presenteeism’ (where workers are physically present but unproductive), accidents, and workplace stress and the many psychological and physical problems that this causes. Mindfulness improves our work performance and enjoyment because it improves our decision-making ability, the quality of our working relationships, and our leadership.”
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness2

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn,”mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

You do not need to meditate to become mindful. Meditation is a tool to lead people to post-meditative mindfulness. However, as you’ll see, much of the research focuses on meditation.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

neuroplasticity

Mindfulness actually works by changing our brains! That’s what’s behind the impressive benefits of mindfulness!

Richard Davidson is the founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A major aspect of the center’s research is neuroplasticity—the ability of the adult brain to change its structure or function in an enduring way. Specifically, 1) You can train your brain to change, 2) that change is measurable and 3) new ways of thinking can change it for the better.

If you’d like to learn more about neuroplasticity, see “What is Neuroplasticity?.

Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

“The implications [of mindfulness in the workplace] are enormous. When you are mindful, you end up healthier, you end up happier. So, with an increase in mindfulness in the workplace, there is lower absenteeism, fewer healthcare costs and there is a reduction in accidents.”
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

Health

Meditation has some substantial health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even affecting cellular health. For a look at what it actually does to the body, see this Huffington Post infographic.

Emotional Resilience

Richard J. Davidson and Sara Begley co-authored The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them.

In her article “Rewiring Your Emotions“, Sara Begley discusses the idea of harnessing neuroplasticity to change how you respond emotionally to the ups and downs of life. She writes:

“I don’t know about you, but if I’m feeling miserable and someone tells me to just cheer up on the spot, I want to slug them.

Fortunately, the brain’s emotional circuits are actually connected to its thinking circuits, which are much more accessible to our conscious volition. That has been one of Davidson’s most important discoveries: the “cognitive brain” is also the “emotional brain.” As a result, activity in certain cognitive regions sends signals to the emotion-generating regions. So while you can’t just order yourself to have a particular feeling, you can sort of sneak up on your emotions via your thoughts.”

Begley continues with this example: “If the amygdalae is generating negative emotions, the left PFC sends inhibitory signals to the amygdalae, basically telling them to quiet down. As a result, the negative feelings generated by the amygdalae peter out, and you’re not mired in unhappiness or resentment.”

So emotional resilience depends on high activity in the PFC and a strong connection between it and the amygdalae. Begley prescribes mindfulness meditation as one way to strengthen the circuitry that supports emotional resilience.

Davidson_BodyMind

Happiness

Daniel Goleman, in his article “Want a Happier Brain? Try Mindfulness, presents solid evidence to back up that title.

Goleman’s discussion begins with some research done by neuroscientist Richard Davidson, whose work focuses on the emotional dynamics of the brain. Davidson discovered a correlation between left-to-right brain activity and emotional states:

“When we’re in a down mood — irritable, anxious and grouchy — our brain has high activity in the right prefrontal area, just behind the forehead. But when we’re in an upbeat mood — energized, enthusiastic, optimistic — there’s lots of activity on the left side of the prefrontal area.

Each of us has a typical ratio of left-to-right activity when we’re just at rest. And this ratio predicts fairly well our typical, day-to-day mood range.

There’s a bell curve for this ratio, like the one for IQ: most of us are in the middle, with some good days and some bad days. Those who are tipped to the far right are likely to have clinical levels of depression or anxiety. And those whose setpoint tips far to the left are able to bounce back quickly from upsets.”

Goleman goes on to describe a study led by Richard Davidson and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. This study concluded with good news — we can nudge our setpoint to the left!

“Jonny [Kabat-Zinn] taught mindfulness to a group of the biotech workers and had them practice about half an hour a day for eight weeks. Richie [Davidson] measured their brains before and after. The result: at first their emotional setpoint was tilted toward the right — they were, after all, on a hectic, 24/7 schedule. But after eight weeks, the mindfulness group on average showed a greater tilt toward the left.

What’s more, they spontaneously said that now they were in touch again with what they loved about their jobs, with why they had gotten into the field in the first place.”

Thus, the ability to “nudge our setpoint to the left” can make us happier with our work.

Focus

Meditation can be “an antidote for workplace ADD.” One of the biggest problems in the workplace today is what some have called “continuous partial attention.” Attention deficit can harm people’s ability to interact competently, impeding understanding and rapport. Lack of attention also negatively impacts individual job performance. A person’s ability to do his job is directly related to how well he can concentrate and focus.

Mindfulness meditation techniques can overcome workplace ADD by training our minds to focus on what matters in the moment and to resist distractions.

Decision Making

One aspect of good decision-making is the ability to avoid “sunk-cost bias”—our tendency to continue down a path because we’re already so far along. For example, you realize that your job is not right for you. But you don’t look for another job or go back to school, because your current position has consumed so much of your time and effort. In her Greater Good article, Hooria Jazaier, explains research conducted by Andrew Hafenbrack and colleagues. The research abstract states, “In the research reported here, we investigated the debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation on the sunk-cost bias. We conducted four studies (one correlational and three experimental); the results suggest that increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions.”

In fact, “Close analysis of the latest mindfulness research, with Jochen Reb, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Singapore Management University, for the upcoming book Mindfulness in Organisations, suggests that mindfulness techniques can have a positive effect on all our widely recognised stages of the decision-making process.” In her article, “How Mindfulness Improves Decision-Making“, Natalia Karelaia lists the four stages of the decision-making process as:

  1. Framing the decision
  2. Gathering information
  3. Coming to a conclusion
  4. Learning from feedback

For each of these four stages, Karelaia explains how mindfulness can have a positive effect on that stage.

Leadership

Mindfulness is the essence of effective leadership.

The essence of effective leadership is mindfulness, which is also the essence of charisma. When you are mindful, you are present. When you are present, people notice it. When people experience you as mindful, they then see you as authentic and trustworthy.
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

When we are mindful, we are fully connected to ourselves and to other people, and this connection allows us to lead ourselves and others from and to shared certainty, rather than individual confusion.

“Being mindful more of the time and mindless less of the time helps us be great leaders because it helps unite [us] in common goals and ways of achieving them, and frees us of our separate ideas about what needs to be done and how. When we experience mindful connectedness with the people we work with, we will be great leaders, whether we’re leading a sporting team or a hamburger shop or a multinational corporation. We are not great leaders regardless of the people we lead, we are great leaders because of them.
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

Creativity and Caring

Mindfulness practice has been shown to draw out creativity and caring. In an interesting piece, “It’s Not McMindfulness,” Barry Boyce says, “[mindfulness practice] naturally leads to inquisitiveness about our own minds and examination of how we’re connected to other people, of the causes and effects of our actions. … Leaders touched by mindfulness may find innovations to solve real problems and help make a better life.”

The Greater Good

What matters in the workplace is what matters in our lives—using every moment to learn from experience so that we grow in insight, wisdom, and compassion.
Mirabai Bush, “Mindfulness at Work: An Interview with Mirabai Bush

I’ve saved the best for last! Expanding on the “caring” benefit, let’s talk about “the greater good.”

In a superb interview on mindful.org, Elisha Goldstein talks to Mirabai Bush about how mindfulness can make our work life more meaningful. Goldstein introduces Bush as “the author of Working with Mindfulness (MP3), a key contributor to Google’s Search Inside Yourself Program, Cofounder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and so much more.”

The interview begins with a discussion of “right livelihood.” Here’s an excerpt:

Elisha: When it comes to the workplace, you have found a fundamental flaw in our minds when we think of work, like “Love is for home and discipline is for work.” One of the foundations to bringing mindfulness into the workplace is through an approach called Right Livelihood. Can you tell us more about that and the benefits?

Mirabai: I first heard the words “right livelihood” while learning to meditate in a Buddhist monastery. Meditation teacher S.N. Goenka said, “If the intention is to play a useful role in society in order to support oneself and to help others, then the work one does is right livelihood.” Other teachers expanded on that: Do work that is ethical and helpful to your personal development. Do no harm though your work. Cause no suffering to yourself or others. Use work to nourish understanding and compassion. Remember that all life is interconnected. Be honest, be mindful of what you are doing.

Other topics discussed are:

  • Mindful Listening: “a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening in the moment without trying to control it or judge it.”
  • Walking meditation: “the practice of paying close attention to the ordinary action of walking, a helpful practice for people at work, who usually walk at least sometimes during the day.”
  • A compassion practice known as “Just like me” (“Just like me, this person has known physical pain. Just like me, this person has done things she regrets. Just like me, this person wants to be happy….” and so on)

I encourage you to read the full interview.

Are you ready to try minfdfulness at your workplace?

Watch for the companion article “Introducing Mindfulness into the Workplace” on Friday! 

This is part one of a two-part series, Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. Don’t miss part two on Friday! If you’re a regular reader of the CCC blog, you’ll recognize Carol as a contributor. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Living a Good Life: On the Road to Authentic Happiness

“The more I learn about positive psychology, the more I am convinced of its tremendous potential. Potential to transform individuals and societies. Potential to steer humanity into a new era, an era that pays homage to this statement: Every human being, whether living now or in a future generation, should be afforded the opportunity to live a meaningful, happy, and fulfilling life.

Living a Good Life by Carol Ann Preibis

Are you living a good life? Carol Preibis’ new eGuide, Living a Good Life, is packed full of tips, ideas and inspiration on the subject. Divided into three parts, the eGuide explores what it means to live a good life (backed by science), showcases inspirational role models in this area and discusses the positivity project.

Loyal readers of the CCC blog will recognize the author’s name due to her contributions to this space. Preibis’ Kindness in the Workplace series: It Just Makes (Dollars &) Cents and A Guide for Your Organization, shows that kindness is important in the workplace because it directly affects your bottom line, and she brings the research to back up her claims.

low employee engagement is a crisis for businesses

Does your company engage its employees?
Photo credit: Kevin Kruse

Preibis does the same in her new eGuide.

Living a Good Life

In the first section, Preibis explores scientifically proven ways to achieve authentic happiness, beginning with the five elements of what free people choose to do in their lives and ending with the search for meaning to make sense of our existence.

“Simplicity is simultaneously a personal choice, a community choice, a national choice, and a species choice.”                                                                                                 –Duane Elgin, author

The Perfect Storm by Carol Preibis

“What is this place? It’s a crossroads, where we must choose between two paths.” -The Perfect Storm by Carol Preibis

If you’d like examples of those living a good life and achieving authentic happiness, you’ll be happy to move on to section two.


Role Models and Teachers

Who are the true superstars in our world? Preibis showcases 10 examples, from personal connections to Nobel Peace Prize winners and celebrities, who are doing extraordinary things and inspiring others to live a good life. Then she moves on to two iconic figures, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pope Francis, who have worked to make their dream of justice and equality for all real — 50 years apart.

“Four times in his I Have A Dream speech Dr. King proclaimed, “Now is the time.” In an exhortation 50 years later, Pope Francis asked, “So what are we waiting for?””  -Carol Preibis, Living a Good Life


The Positivity Project

In the third section of the eGuide, Preibis explores positivity and how it can impact our health just as much as diet and exercise. Shared positive emotion and social connections are major driving forces in our lives.

“Positive emotions are good for our health. Shared positive emotions — positive emotions people feel in connection with others — seem to be a real driving force behind health benefits.”                                                                                                    -Carol Preibis, Living a Good Life

Seeds of Light

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”
                                                 -Anne Lamott

The research, exercises and the author’s own contributions in this section will enable you to take advantage of the powers of positivity to improve your health and overall life. Discover how to build your own positivity portfolio, meditate on loving-kindness and explore what gives your life meaning.

We invite you to read (and share) the introductory version of Living a Good Life, which includes the table of contents and first chapter. If you find it as worthwhile as we did, you’ll want to purchase the entire eGuide, available in PDF or EPUB, for only $4.99. It’s a small price to pay to discover how to live a meaningful, happy and fulfilling — aka good — life.

What does living a good life mean to you?

What gives you authentic happiness?

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.

 

Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

 

 

I was honored (and surprised) to have the CCC blog included in the Resources section of the eGuide. As such, Carol did send me a complimentary copy of the guide as a way to say thank you. Rest assured, that’s not why I chose to review the guide or promote it. That decision was based solely on my opinion of her guide and the value it will bring to readers. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you, Carol! –Jaime

On the road to authentic happiness,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on living a good life, blogging or otherwise): 
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Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization

The evidence is in, and there can be no doubt. Treating employees well and making them happy affects the bottom line. Let’s explore the dynamics, and see just how to achieve a kinder workplace and happier employees.

This “happiness map” is a generic guide to happiness. Nevertheless, it is as relevant in a workplace setting as anywhere else.

This way to happiness >> By Carol Preibis

This way to happiness >>
Happiness Map by Carol Preibis

 

Notice that the starting point is “Mindfulness.” Being mindful promotes compassion (kindness). Mindfulness also leads to “Appreciation” — it teaches us gratitude. Conclusion: To achieve happiness in the workplace, we would do well to:

  •   Apply mindfulness to the workplace.
  •   Foster gratitude across the organization.

 

Mindfulness

Do you live in the moment?

“SAKURAKO – Pick up the phone.”
by MIKI Yoshihito via CCBY2.0

“Mindfulness is a way to live your life as if it really mattered. And that involves being in the present moment with open-hearted presence and kindness toward yourself.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

Evidence suggests practicing mindfulness can help organizations by diminishing stress-related health care costs and increasing productivity. Kelley McCabe Ruff runs eMindful, a Vero Beach company that puts on virtual workshops for businesses. She has been able to quantify the effectiveness of eMindful’s programs, showing that they support behavioral change that leads to physical changes, such as reduced cortisol levels and lower blood pressure. “We actually supply employers a return on investment calculation.”

 

Kelley McCabe Ruff, eMindful CEO and founder, relates eMindful’s focus on reducing employee health care costs and increasing productivity. Live programs are offered via the internet, allowing eMindful to provide the most experienced and expert teachers in Mindfulness as well as other Mind-Body Programs. Presented by eMindful – http://www.eMindful.com

Reflecting before reacting is the first step in practicing mindfulness, and learning it is quite simple. Think of the acronym STOP:

Stop — Stand or Sit
Take a breath
Observe
Present – be in the present moment

Rhonda Magee explains the technique in this video.

Rhonda Magee, JD, is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of San Francisco. In this talk from the “Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion” conference on March 8, 2013, Magee explores how to apply contemplative practices to our professional lives–and in doing so create more compassionate workplaces.

 

Sharon Salzberg, author of the book Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace, believes mindfulness can be applied in any career.  “It’s a great tool for coming back to the moment and remembering your intention,” she says. For example, practicing mindfulness at work could be pausing and planning before picking up a phone, or taking a deep breath and focusing on the desired outcome during a contentious meeting.

“Teaching and encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has become a part of corporate efforts to reduce the stresses that can lead to burnout. Increasingly, the practice has gone mainstream, buoyed by the recent endorsements of CEOs, educators, actors, and politicians who link mindfulness to improved psychological and even physical health.” ― Cindy Krischer Goodman, Working with ‘mindfulness’ reduces stress in the workplace

 

Gratitude

Good job!

“Good Job on Sticky Note” by David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“To practice gratitude, we must practice mindfulness. When we are truly present in the moment, we see the beauty all around us. And the more joy we cultivate, the more we can practice our purposeful awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Mindfulness begets gratitude, gratitude begets mindfulness.” — Sarah Rudell Beach, Mindfulness and Gratitude: A Celebration of Thankfulness

Foster an environment of gratitude across your organization. Gratitude in organizations is important—it can boost morale and increase productivity. To learn more about this dynamic, the Greater Good Science Center developed a quiz that measures the level of gratitude in an organization. An analysis of the results concludes: “In order to foster gratitude across an organization, it may help to maximize opportunities for people in low-level positions to make meaningful contributions, and ensure that their contributions are recognized—especially for employees who have been in a low-level position for many years. It may also be wise for organizations with high levels of stress to bring more awareness to how often—and to whom—expressions of gratitude are granted.”

A wonderfully effective way to recognize employee contributions is with an “office gratitude journal.” The Administration and Finance office of the University of California, Berkeley, created an appreciation platform that allows employees to recognize each other’s contributions, which feeds into a “Kudos” webpage that publicly highlights these contributions. A simpler and equally effect implementation of this same idea is a bulletin board known as a “wall of gratitude.” For details on these and other suggestions, see five ways to boost gratitude at work.

 

Kindness

Business Team Discussing Ideas

“Business Team Discussing Ideas” by stockimages via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” ― Adam GrantGive and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

There are so many ways to bring kindness into work. Here are a few suggestions:

  •   Never, ever play the “blame game.” Rachel Woods, in her article on Tiny Buddha, explains how to stop playing this destructive game.
  •   Develop the skill of giving and receiving criticism. I highly recommend Zen and the Art of Constructive Criticism by Erin Dorney.
  •   Help one another. Mentor. Collaborate.
  •   Be friendly! Smile, give a compliment, speak a few kind words. Bring in a treat to share.
  •   We all understand the importance of work-life balance. A booklet from Acas Publications offers expert advice on work-life balance and flexible working. It includes some real-world problem scenarios, and provides real-world solutions.

 

Employee Engagement

employee engagement = success

Photo credit: betterworks.com

“To win in the marketplace…you must first win in the workplace. I’m obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center.” — Doug Conant

Employee engagement is crucial to the success of any organization, and it is management’s responsibility to make it happen! Managers, consider these tips:

  •   Give your employees autonomy. Let them know what’s going on, and elicit their ideas for improvement.
  •   Transparency is important to employees. Share long-term visions. Explain how their work fits into the big picture.
  •   Give employees opportunities for growth. Offer them new responsibilities. Give them time to train and learn.
  •   Employees love feedback, so give it often. If you have recommendations for improvement, offer to help them implement them.
  •   Be nice! Let them know that you care about them as people, not just as employees.

 

Books to Instruct and Inspire

Join the Kindness Revolution

It’s inspiring to think about individual pay it forward chains. It’s even more amazing to picture pay it forward webs. Each person in a chain has opportunities to fire off new chains. Most people are in multiple chains. Perhaps a web might look like a Tinker Toy project!

Tinker Toys

“Tinker Toys for Adults” by greenmelinda via CCBY2.0

 “The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” — Maya Angelou

The time is right. These ideas are becoming mainstream, and for good reasons. It’s an exciting time for all of humanity. Be mindful, be grateful, be kind. Watch kindness spread from heart to heart and share the joy, especially in the workplace.

This is part two of a two-part series, Kindness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. If you missed part one last week, please click here. For more on Carol, keep reading. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Kindness in the Workplace: It Just Makes (Dollars &) Cents

happy employees

Killer Infographics thinks it’s important for their workers to be happy, and they’re encouraged to have fun. Photo credit: KillerInfographics.com

 

Why Kindness Is Important

Kindness is important everywhere, and the workplace is no exception! The power of kindness is extraordinary. But when we talk about the workplace, there are some important additional reasons why kindness is so vital.

Treating employees well and making them happy affects the bottom line. As shown in the diagram below, employee happiness increases profits three ways:

  1.     By increasing customer satisfaction, and thereby increasing sales.
  2.     By decreasing absenteeism, and thereby reducing the costs associated with absenteeism.
  3.     By improving employee retention, and thereby reducing the costs associated with replacing an employee.
workplace kindness map

Workplace Kindness Map
By Carol Preibis

There are numerous research studies to support this model.

employment engagement

employee engagement = success

Photo credit: betterworks.com

Dr. Noelle Nelson is a clinical psychologist, business trial consultant, and best-selling author of Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy. In her book, Nelson cites a study from the Jackson Organization, which shows, “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t. When looking at Fortune’s ’100 Best Companies to Work For,’ stock prices rose an average of 14% per year from 1998-2005 compared to 6% for the overall market.” Dr. Nelson explains, “When employees feel that the company takes their interest to heart, then the employees will take company interests to heart.”

low employee engagement is a crisis for businesses

Photo credit: Kevin Kruse

absenteeism

The American Psychology Association tells us that stress is a major cause of illness today, and often workplace stress is the primary cause. This contributes to workplace absenteeism, which causes considerable direct and indirect costs to businesses. According to a white paper from Circadian, “A company of 5,000 hourly employees has the potential to reduce costs by over $7.9 million per year, or 3.2% of total payroll.”

employee retention

 A white paper by the Kenexa® Research Institute reveals that organizations with highly engaged employees achieve twice the annual net income of organizations whose employees lag behind on engagement. Their conclusion: “It is clear that properly-fitted leadership practices give rise to an engaged workforce—a workforce positioned to deliver the organization’s customer value proposition. Loyal customers lead to market share gains, greater profitability and long-term success.”

Are You Listening?

Listen.
In every office
you hear the threads
of love and joy and fear and guilt,
the cries for celebration and reassurance,
and somehow you know that connecting those threads
is what you are supposed to do
and business takes care of itself.
Someone needs to say “amen”.

 Amen. — Stanza of a poem called Threads, by a former CEO and author of Love and Profit, James Autry

CCC is honored to host this 2-part series on the value of kindness in the workplace written by Carol Preibis. Part 2 will focus on how businesses can achieve a kinder workplace and enjoy the benefits mentioned in this post. For more on Carol, keep reading.  

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.

 

Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Make A Ripple… And Change The World

A ripple. It’s not much by itself. But it’s amazing what happens as more and more ripples gather together: they cause change. Whether you’re trying to make the world a better place, become healthier or advance your career, small acts and minor decisions do matter.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

Enough ripples can become a tidal wave.

We love dramatic reveals after makeovers, watching contestants reshape their bodies on the Biggest Loser and seeing people use a financial windfall to do good. The only problem is that these situations aren’t relevant for 99% of us, so we feel helpless. 

But we can make a difference — in our own lives, our communities and even the world. The key is to make small changes and commit small acts. They’re sustainable, we can incorporate them into our lifestyles and they add up to make a big difference.

What if every person recycled one plastic bottle a month? Would our landfills be lighter? What if you replaced one sugary drink with a glass of water daily? Would you be healthier? Think about this: If you replace one 12 oz can of soda with water every day, you’d save 51,100 calories a year and lose about 15 pounds. (Source)

It goes beyond your physical health. Has someone made your day recently with a small act of kindness? Maybe they held the door when your hands were full or let you pull out during the busy commute home. Or perhaps a co-worker brought you a coffee one morning or a friend made a minor repair to your car. Isn’t the power of kindness amazing?

Apparently, it doesn’t just make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. More and more evidence points to kindness actually making us healthier in a number of ways. Learn more in an insightful blog post, The Science of Kindness: How It Makes Us Healthier, on Ahh The Simple Life. You can also read more about the power of kindness and discover fun, easy ideas to pay it forward here.

At CCC, we’re big believers in the Pay It Forward movement and try to make a difference every day. We’re not making million dollar donations or ending poverty (we wish we could), but we are saving lives by donating platelets and volunteering our time and talents.

What small act are you committing to make a difference in your own life or your community? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below to help inspire others to join the movement and make our world a better place.

p.s. Need a reason to smile? Search the #PayItForward or #UNselfie hashtag on your favorite social platform to read about the good going on in the world. (Add your own story!)

Paying it forward,
Jaime

Let’s connect (and change the world):
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Blog of the Year Award 2013

One of the things I love best about the end of the year is all of the Best of designations, Year in Reviews, Top 10 lists, etc. (The year that ESPN showed the Best Sportscenter Commercials was at the top of my list.)

So you can imagine how thrilled we were at CCC when The Journal of Wall Grimm decided to designate this blog as a winner of the Blog of the Year Award for 2013. How exciting! It’s the blog’s first award, and along with the thoughtful comments, likes and visits, encourages us to continue down this long, strange road we’re traveling.

Blog of the Year Award

As a recipient of this award, CCC has the responsibility of passing it along to the blog(s) that we feel deserve special recognition. We follow some insightful blogs from a variety of people, so this was a decision we really had to think about. Without further ado, I present to you our 2013 Blog of the Year winners… (drumroll please)

101 Books

Robert Bruce is reading his way through Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels and taking us along for the ride. As a fellow writer and fervent reader, I appreciate his honest commentary and insight into each of his selections. It really helps me decide what — and what not — to add to my lengthy, always-growing reading list. For unbiased book reviews, insight on writing and a fun mailbag feature (where he answers readers’s questions), follow 101 Books.

Ahh The Simple Life

Carol and Michelle are sisters who value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Bucket List Publications

Some people make a bucket list when they’re dying; Lesley Carter makes one to live life to the fullest. She’s packed more into her years than people who have been around three times as long. Rock climbing? Paragliding? Dog sledding? Check. Check. Check. Lesley’s been to 34 countries and has no plans on slowing down. Follow along on her world tour as she seeks new adventures and works toward completing her annual bucket list at Bucket List Publications.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Congratulations 101 Books, Ahh The Simple Life and Bucket List Publications! I’ll be in touch shortly to personally congratulate you and offer some easy instructions on accepting this award. We’d be honored to have you guest blog here at any time.

Again, a heartfelt thank you to Sage Doyle at The Journal of Wall Grimm on honoring the Clearly Conveyed Communications blog with this award. Thanks for being a loyal follower and guest blogger!  

By the way, what’s your favorite blog? Drop the URL in the comments below along with a short description on what the blog’s all about.

Blog of the Year award badge courtesy of the Thought Palette, the originator of the award
101 Books, Ahh The Simple Life and Bucket List Publication headers courtesy of the respective companies

Cheers,
Jaime

p.s. We need your help to hit 150 fans on the Clearly Conveyed Communications Facebook page! When we do, we’re celebrating with a ‘Big Bang,’ and some fun prizes. Check out our contest and bring your friends!

Connect with CCC… we’re more than just a blog!
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