Posted in Inspiration, Learning, Life, Motivation, Positive Thinking, Self Improvement

Quote Of The Day

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

~Aristotle 
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As always, thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed today’s quote.

Posted in Communication, Inspiration, Learning, Motivation, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

Listen – Did You Hear That? Tips to Improve & Understand The Art of Listening

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“The art of conversation lies in listening.”

–Malcom Forbes

There are two essential forms of listening. First, is being able to listen to yourself. Second, is your ability to listen to others.

What do I mean when I say, listen to yourself? To some, that statement is foreign. We do not listen to ourselves. We listen to other people, so why would we listen to ourselves? Why, indeed!

Unfortunately, most of us do not know that listening to ourselves is something we can and should be doing. In some ways listening to our selves is an art. Every day we are bombarded with information. We think about events from yesterday and how we were affected by them, and we think about tomorrow and what we need to do. At the same time, we are trying to focus on what we have to do today. There are some days we are on autopilot.

We are not good at listening to others, so why should we listen to ourselves? The art of listening includes both.

All of us have an inner voice or unconscious mind, and we usually ignore it or push it aside. You should pay attention because this is where we store our basic instincts and our learned wisdom. Based on previous experiences and how they affected our overall well being, our inner voice will attempt to influence our present thinking and behavior. The unconscious mind stores our learned skills, our intuition, good and bad experiences from the past, and also our dreams.

When you are interacting with someone, or by yourself and planning on doing something, you may experience a niggling thought, or feeling, that is pushing into your mind. You are busy and concentrating, so you push it away. That is your inner voice, and it is attempting to give you information. Slow down and take a moment, relax, and listen to your inner voice.

I have had that experience before. It does feel like intuition, and I have found that it is usually right. Most of the time, I listen to my inner voice, and I am happy I did. On the occasions when I chose not to, the results were not good. I should have listened.

In today’s culture, we are so busy. To listen to your inner voice, you need to slow down. When you are stressed and want to make a decision, take a moment to concentrate on your body. Stop and focus on your breathing for 2 – 3 minutes. Close your eyes and concentrate on the way your body feels as you breath in and out. This practice will help you to relax and eliminate stress. Open your eyes and start to think again and listen to your inner voice. Make this a daily practice.

Also recommended is taking a small amount of time each day to reflect. Be by yourself and be still. Write down your thoughts. They can be about anything, a person who you interact with, a particular situation or upcoming project. The practice of writing things down, reading your words, and then reflecting, will help you visualize and may change your perspective. You are giving yourself time to think and to listen to what your inner voice may be telling you.

What about your ability to listen to other people? Have you ever been talking and you can tell by the other person’s eyes that they are not listening to you? What about when you are still talking, and they interrupt you? They have been thinking about what they want to say. I hate that!

Humans are not skilled when it comes to the ability to listen. If you want to have a good conversation, talk to your dog. They are so focused, giving you all their attention. They make eye contact, and they will move closer to you and make physical contact when appropriate. They signal their approval and eagerly await your next words. Talking to your dog will always make you feel good and bring you comfort when needed. How many people can you say that about?

Follow the lead of your dog:

Make eye contact. Let them know you feel they are important and you want to hear what they say. Smile when appropriate. Do not look away; concentrate on the one speaking.

Do not interrupt them. Please do not do that. It will make the other person feel lousy and unimportant. Wait until they finish and if you are not sure, ask them. Keep any comments you think of as they are talking until they are finished.

Watch their body language as they are talking. It will give you a better understanding of how they feel. They may be holding things back because they are uncomfortable or afraid. They may be angrier than what their words are telling you. They may be saying what they think you want to hear or they do not trust you. The body language they display will help you make an assessment. What do they need and how should you proceed.

Use your body language to encourage them and to show that you are interested in what they are saying. Lean forward, make eye contact, nod your head, smile, and use small statement words such as okay or yes.

When appropriate, ask questions that will indicate to them you are listening and you are interested. I think I understand, did you mean—–? Are you saying—–?

Don’t be judgmental. It is a skill to be open-minded, and for most of us, it is difficult. We all have our opinions, and we all have certain behaviors or words, which are turn-offs. To be an effective active listener, we need to develop the ability to let those words and behaviors go, and listen to what else they are saying while also watching their body language. When I become judgmental, or someone I am with is that way, I think of the phrase, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Listen. Do not do anything else. Let the other person talk and do not think about your responses. We are all capable of thinking rapidly while someone else is talking, but it is not beneficial. When we let our mind race, our mind wanders, and before you know it, your mind is on a road trip. You have driven off somewhere, and you have missed some of what they have said. You may have lost the real message. You form your interpretation which may be incorrect. Time to ask some questions and, an apology may be warranted.

When possible, as you are listening to the other person, tie their statements together. Are there multiple messages, and do they all come together into one detailed message, or do they need to be looked at separately?

At times it may be necessary to interrupt and explain that you are having difficulty listening because there are too many distractions. It is too loud, there are too many other conversations taking place close by, you are standing, and it would be more comfortable sitting, etc. Make sure that you convey to them that their message is important and you want to hear all of what they have to say.

We all learn about our behaviors and abilities from experience. From the day we are born, through school, our parents, our friends, and our work, we are exposed to different actions. You can decide which are the best practices. You can use those to develop your own ability to be a good listener. Think of the people you respect the most and how they make you feel when you talk to them. Analyze their ability to listen and what you see as the best practices.

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

–Karl A. Menniger

As always, thank you for reading my blog today. Sit, have a conversation and practice listening.

Posted in Communication, Motivation, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

The Pure Joy Of Reading Hard Cover Books-Why It Is Good For Us

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. – Confucius

Do you remember reading as a child. The wonder of it all. Getting lost in adventures. Such a wondrous experience, one I eagerly took part in and enjoy still today.

Books are everything. They offer adventure, escape, wonder, and excitement. We gain knowledge. Books teach us. While we are lost in enjoyment our brains are being filled with words, inspiration and knowledge.

As a child, books increase our vocabulary and make us inquisitive about the world around us. They make us eager to learn more, read more and open to learning as we grow. When we read as a child and as an adult it opens our minds and gives us the ability to analyze.

Envision Harry Potter and the effect it has had on so many children. They are wrapped up in all the situations playing out on the page and thinking about all the possibilities. Their imagination soaring.

At the same time they are evaluating and learning concepts. They are learning skills that they will use the rest of their lives.

I love the texture of a book in my hand and the pages as they slip through my fingers. The weight of the book, even it’s smell. The crisp clean smell of a new book first opened and the old musty smell of a book sitting on a library shelf. Reading is a tactile experience imprinted on your brain that stores memories and feelings.

When we read we can lose ourselves in the story. It is relaxing and invigorating all at the same time.

Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.

Annie Murphy Paul, March 17, 2012

Reading evokes empathy with the characters. We respond with emotion to the trials and tribulations, the highs and lows of their lives. We suffer and rejoice with the characters. In real life our perceptions and our responses to human interactions may become more empathetic as a result.

Neuroscience and the use of brain scans is showing the affect words have on different areas of our brain.

Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. (Annie Murphy Paul, March 17, 2012)

We expand our knowledge and strengthen our brain by reading. We read for enjoyment and to learn.

The most important aspect of reading is overlooked, our brain, the health of our brain. We take it for granted. When you make the decision to exercise what are you thinking about ? The way our body looks, the definition of our muscles, the health of our heart. The most important muscle we have is our brain. Our brain with the help of our nervous system controls everything we do.

When we read we are exercising our brain. Just like muscles, the brain benefits from a good workout. And reading is more neurobiologically demanding than processing images or speech. As you’re absorbing a book or article, “parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging,” says Ken Pugh, PhD, president and director of research of Haskins Laboratories, ( By Lauren Duzbow , June 2008)

Reading makes us smarter by increasing our general knowledge and our vocabulary. Our expanded ability to use words allows us to be better in all aspects of our lives. We become better, more interesting conversationalists. We become better writers, better teachers, better bosses, better parents.

When we read we stimulate our brain. We are exposed to new thoughts and ideas. Have you ever been reading and thought “Wow, I never thought of that!” or “I want to be more like that.”

Reading can give us a different perspective. When we are done reading a page, a chapter or a whole book we can sit and soak it all in. We reflect, we think and we are richer for it.

When we read we relax, lower our stress levels and sleep better. We relate better to the life and experiences of other people. We become better humans.

Pick up a hard cover book and relish in the experience. Feel the weight of it in your hand, feel the pages as they slip across your fingers and smell the wonderful aroma. Sink back in a chair and absorb. Lose yourself in the wondrous joy of reading.

As always, thank you for reading my blog. Have a nice day.