How can we curb the spread of stigma against the overweight?

In a New York Times article called “Spreading Fat Stigma Around the Globe,” it’s being demonstrated that cultural views of obesity are becoming more and more negative. Even in cultures like Puerto Rico where the ideal of beauty has more curves, the tide of public perception about obesity is turning; an increasing number of people are perceiving overweight people as lazy as opposed to being perceived as suffering from a condition resulting from genetic and social circumstances.

It’s easy to be judgmental about an overweight person, especially if their condition is unpleasant or inconvenient for you. But it’s important to remember that genetic factors play an enormous role in a person’s weight, and that losing excess weight takes a great deal of discipline and self-control. Stigmatizing obesity will not help: shame is never a good motivator.

What can you do to avoid developing a judgmental attitude towards the overweight?

  1. Stay respectful towards others by constantly trying to empathize with them. Think about things you’re ashamed of and how mortified you’d be if someone were to draw attention to them. Don’t dwell on this, but at least keep it in mind.
  2. Be polite to overweight people, even if they inconvenience you in some way. For example, many people can recall an occasion where they’ve had to sit next to one on a crowded plane or bus. If your “space” is invaded, consider whether you can politely ask them to move slightly, or if you can discretely ask a flight attendant if you could switch seats. But do not allow yourself to grow rude or impatient as this would further propagate disrespect of the overweight.
  3. Don’t ever draw attention to an obese person’s appearance, which could make the problem worse by raising their levels of self-consciousness.

Resist the temptation to negatively judge others. Obesity is an epidemic, and shaming its victims is counterproductive and belittling. More importantly, it’s never productive to cultivate judgmental attitudes about others, even internally.

What are your thoughts?

JS

Could Coaching be a Useful Life Tool?

You may want to get unstuck. Feeling stuck is very common these days, whether regarding a job, unemployment, relationship, or other area of life. It’s easy to resign yourself to uncomfortable situations and convince yourself that they’re going OK. This isn’t ultimately healthy, though.

Full Life Executive Coaching reveals that you have the potential for greatness in all areas of your life. The Full Life approach assists you in: understanding your unique obstacles and challenges, crystallizing your vision, facilitating your rise to peak performance, and creating the incremental goals necessary to accomplish your ambition.

What results could coaching yield for you at work and in your life?

  1. You could discover the motivation to design a brand new career tailored to your talents and abilities.
  2. You could create new opportunities and learn to rethink what’s possible.
  3. You could reinvigorate your relationship with your spouse or significant other.
  4. You could optimize your current job or career and reconnect to what you do as if it were new.
  5. You could actively plan your transition into a next-phase of life and receive support in enacting your plan.

Full Life offers a variety of services, from one-on-one coaching to inspirational talks for organizations and groups.

JS

Reacting to Negative Media Portrayals

A recent New York Times article called “The Disposable Woman” explores how the recent Charlie Sheen debacle reflects our culture’s view of women. Whereas it’s popular to view our society as progressive, with female empowerment and equality being touted, there is a marked discrepancy in how the media portrays women. Reality television often shows women as conniving and back-stabbing, and missing white woman syndrome mainstream media portrays women as helpless children. How can women truly be empowered if their media portrayals are so denigrating and insulting?

This dilemma isn’t unique to women. Many minority groups—i.e., racial, religious, or orientation—face the same sorts of discrimination. Using the current discussion of women as an example, here are some things a group receiving negative messages can do to maintain esteem:

  1. Speak out against casual antagonism. Don’t sit quietly while someone makes misogynistic, racist, or homophobic comments or implications. Avoid direct confrontation and calmly ask for explanation and respond maturely to everything they say. You may not change their mind, but you could change the mind of someone else listening.
  2. Question mainstream media coverage of minority groups. These tend to be broadcast through the lens of society in general, so they’re more than likely going to amplify the possibly harmful and disrespectful popular view.

Remember that insecurity lies at the root of most judgments. What are you insecure about? Who can you stop judging?

What are your thoughts?

JS

Grief Recovery and Resilience Research

Recent research suggests that the human sense of resilience is stronger than previously thought. In a New York Times article called “Grief, Unedited,” research headed by George Bonanno from Teachers College, Columbia shows that people who lose spouses late in life recover more quickly from grief than is popularly thought. In most cases cited in the study, elderly widows and widowers mostly showed recovery from grief within six months of the loss of their spouse. This information speaks volumes for the human capacity for resilience and does not imply that humans are colder than previously thought: widows and widowers that move past their grief do not stop missing their deceased partner, but simply return to normal. It’s an inspiring thought that people can move on and reclaim their lives.

There’s common ground between this research and some articles about the resilience of 9/11 victims in New York. Like the widows and widowers study, surveys of New York residents who were in the city on September 11, 2001 show that they also recovered from the trauma at a higher rate than one might intuitively expect. Even around two thirds of those who were near the World Trade Center showed a high recovery rate and return to normalcy after just six months. This shows that the human spirit is remarkably strong, and stories about victims of tragedies regaining their mental and emotional health is very inspiring.

Here is some interesting further reading on resilience:

  1. The Other Side of Sadness by George A. Bonanno – This is the research cited in the article. Detailed examinations of both statistical and anecdotal evidence suggesting the human spirit is more resilient than most people think.
  2. 9/11 Resilience Study – This study demonstrates that even in the case of such an extreme and jarring tragedy as 9/11, victims are capable of bouncing back from PTSD very quickly. The study was conducted shortly after the 2001 attacks so promising results are discussed with some skepticism, but the more recent research seems to confirm the optimistic tone.
  3. “Grief: The Journey From Suffering to Resilience” by William F. Doverspike, Ph.D. – This is a more cautious guide to avoiding the pitfalls of chronic grief and developing resilience.

Despite the public’s assumptions regarding our respective responses to trauma, even people who receive minimal counseling have demonstrated an admirable and inspiring level of resilience. Now we know that people possess an amazing ability to adapt and thrive.

What do you think?

JS

Technology and Spheres of Life

A recent article in the New York Times called “Who’s the Boss, You or Your Gadget?” raises an interesting point about holding a balance between your personal life and your professional life. Because modern communication technologies like smartphones and WiFi enable us to be in touch with numerous people at all times, it’s difficult to separate your work life from the rest of your life. It’s easy to get distracted by text messages with friends while at the office, as well as email conversations with co-workers while at home. This blurring of the line between work and home is unprecedented in its ubiquity and can be disruptive to leading a healthy life.

iPhones, laptops, and email have a way of making work and life bleed into one another, which can be challenging. Despite instant communication’s temptation to blend the diverse areas of life, you should strive to create some useful boundaries.

Here are some ways to manage technology and honor some boundaries:

  1. Limit the amount of time you spend on the internet and make personal phone calls while you’re at work. Do the same after office hours, unless you work non-traditional hours.
  2. Check your emails at regular intervals during the day and evening. Check your emails less frequently outside of work, unless you are working on a project at home.
  3. After checking your email, reply with brief efficient messages.
  4. Have coworkers call you on your office phone when they need to contact you when you’re at work, and turn your personal phone off.
  5. Only take files home that you absolutely need. The more you leave at work the healthier. Obviously, if you work at home, you need to have everything in your home office.

Technology has the potential effect of increasing productivity and work quality, but sometimes these gains come at the price of increased stress on employees. Don’t let this happen to you: pay attention to what constitutes balance in your life.

What are your thoughts about creating balance in your life?

JS

Resolutions and What Others Think

It’s a month since New Year’s! So how are you coming with your New Year’s Resolutions? Actually, a lot of people have trouble implementing their resolutions over time. Changing behaviors is very challenging for most of us.

One way of optimizing your chances of resolution success is by letting others in on your goal or goals. Somehow this “telling” establishes accountability to others which increases the likelihood that’s you’ll follow through with them. Sharing resolutions also amplifies the potential price of failure if you don’t succeed. It’s one thing to be disappointed in yourself, it’s something else to disappoint someone else. Telling friends and family may sometimes be more annoying than helpful. A recent article in the New York Times lists a number of online applications that incorporate feedback from other users to increase probability that you’ll accomplish your goals.

Using an online resource to track and share your resolutions and goals has a number of benefits compared to the old fashioned way of sharing your resolutions. For one, there’s the both real and perceived anonymity involved. Most resources listed in the NYT article allow users to preserve their anonymity but share their resolutions with a community that will congratulate and praise them as they accomplish their goals. Even if you were to use your real name ito optimize your resolution success, there is a potent sense of safety and boundary from an online community that could make sharing personal goals easier. The online sites also make your goals and achievements easier to track.

It’s not too late to get into the resolution spirit. Here are some ways to track your process and make it more likely that you’ll follow through with your resolutions, at least your biggest one:

  1. Join a goal-listing and tracking website to make a list of all the things you’re trying to accomplish in one place. There are numerous options, my favorite is 43Things.com. Many have tools for you to share your goals with others and receive and provide feedback and encouragement.
  2. Get more targeted by utilizing a site aimed at your specific resolutions. Trying to quit smoking? Try DeterminedToQuit.com. Getting into shape? Try ShapeFit.com.
  3. If you have a little extra money, put it at stake by joining StickK.com. StickK allows you to motivate yourself by entering your credit card information and setting a wager that you’ll accomplish the goal. Fail, and you get charged and the money is sent to a charity of your choice. Succeed, and you won’t get charged.
  4. Record a video diary with your resolutions and progress and post it to a video site like YouTube.com. This is the option with the least anonymity and the highest social stakes, but some choose this mass disclosure for motivation.

Implementing what you want is always a challenge. Whether you share a resolutions with a friend or use the new, creative resources afforded by the internet, it is a use challenge to persist in seizing change over time.

What are you doing to ensure at least one big resolution is accomplished?

JS

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Marriage and Self-Expansion

New studies suggest that it’s time to rethink an effective marriage. A recent article in the New York Times called “The Happy Marriage is the ‘Me’ Marriage” compiles a few different studies about what makes marriages last, and the results are different from conventional wisdom. Contrary to notions that two people should put their relationship first, these new results find that the effective marriages are those where each person in the relationship finds something in their partner that allows them to grow as an individual. The lasting marriage is the marriage that allows each person to gain something for their own person, and help their partner do the same.

Not that this means that marriage has to be selfish. While each person gains something from their partner, ideally they also contribute something to their partner’s life as well. The broadening works both ways, and each partner gets pleasure both from personally expanding as well as expanding their partner.

Therefore, it’s worth considering how your partner contributes to your self-expansion, both in examining an existing marriage as well as considering if marriage is right for you and your significant other. Some questions valuable to this consideration include:

1. Do I have a fuller life as a result of my relationship?

2. Have I picked up any new traits or behaviors from my significant other?

3. Am I a better person as a result of my relationship?

4. Have I helped my significant other expand their life?

The new marriage isn’t so much a union, but a partnership. Instead of spouses sacrificing themselves for the sake of the relationship, each partner should look to enrich their life and enrich their spouse’s life.

What do you think about the changing attitudes towards marriage?

JS

You Can’t Prevent Disappointment

Nobody likes being disappointed. It sucks. Whether at work or in life.

During the past few days, Tony Robbins, the virtual god of coaching, was suddenly dropped by NBC, canceling his new television show after only 2 episodes. The news was unexpected for a man who takes pride in his effectiveness in helping others be successful. Suddenly, many American people were not interested in viewing the show. Yet he models resilience by still taking pride in the show: “I am grateful for the reach and experience that the specials created.”NYTimes

If you bravely open your eyes, disappointment strikes multiple times every day. It can be when you are let down by a colleague, a customer, a vendor, or yourself. It can be a sale that doesn’t close; a business plan that does not pan; a talk you give that fails to inspire.

I get disappointed all the time as an entrepreneur. For example, when my book was published this past year, with the launch parties and press, I thought that EVERYONE would get interested in coaching. Instead I found that the smaller but steady flow of clients still allowed Full Life to thrive. Also, when I opened the center 8 years ago, I thought thousands would come for coaching. Many did, but it is common for a business person to think huge things may happen right away. My experience is that usually incremental steps do occur. I never like disappointments, but I have learned to see and feel them, and then go on with a great attitude.

Many clients wonder how to develop a thicker skin. You might consider the following steps of how to modify your thinking in order to build resilience:

1. Expect disappointments and failures so you are not surprised when they occur;

2. Pursue life balance so your confidence is not based only at work;

3. Live for your passion and do the things at work you love;

4. Let the warrior in you come out so no one can bring you down; and

5. Persist, persist, persist.

So remember to take pride in all you do and weather the disappointments with courage and conviction. Don’t try to control everything. Keep going and dare to be disappointed and sometimes fail multiple times, tomorrow, and every day.

Let me know your thoughts about disappointment and share this with friends and colleagues who would be interested in this dialogue.

JS

Announcing the beginning of a fresh new version of Full Life’s Amplifier™ Blog!

From now on, you will see frequent interactive blogs focusing on 6 Key Themes:

1) Business
2) Balance
3) Momentum
4) Possibility
5) Habits
6) Love

The new edition of the Amplifier Blog will broadcast ideas about our lives, our careers, and the world around us. Together, we will reflect on how we can bring our own unique vision to life and then actually implement and achieve our goals.

We will “amplify” ideas so you can optimize your approach to living and then experience the joy of a fulfilled life. This is so you can gain a crystal clear picture of what you WANT which will then in turn “drive” your life design.

The 6 Full Life Blog Themes:

BUSINESS: We will focus on what success means to YOU and how you can further enhance your career or business performance. In this competitive time of economic challenges and downsizing, as an executive, entrepreneur, or student, you will learn tips to avoid burnout, become more resilient, and achieve HIGH-ENERGY goals. You will also get practical tips and strategies for igniting and planning the “next phase” of your business or career.

BALANCE: Living a full life is about balance, which means that you have to pay attention to all or most of the key areas of your life. Using Full Life’s Spheres of Life® Coaching, we apply a matrix of 11 key spheres and make sure you are making desired progress in each area, without letting one area become dominant at the expense of others.

MOMENTUM: What allows us to get unstuck? How can you become a person who sees what’s next and JUMPS into the opportunity with full force? We will discuss the Full Life Achilles® Plan which gives you a method to advance your goals in an organized, energized, and incremental fashion.

POSSIBILITY: You will examine your vision of what lies ahead so you can build your ideal future. Also, how can communities and nations harness innovation in relationships and in technology to build a safer and healthier world?

HABITS: How addictions and bad habits, such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs, procrastinating, hoarding, spending, disorganization, and anything that takes away our time and functioning – actually inhibits progress in one’s life and career. We will not only look at how to overcome bad habits, but we will also explore how we can create positive habits that support us and the people in our lives.

LOVE: Whether single, dating, or in a relationship, we will examine love and how intimacy can be heightened in our lives. What are ways we can magnify our satisfaction in whatever state of love we find ourselves?

***

With the new Amplifier Blog experience, we hope that you will bring your perspectives into the conversation.

Your responses will be a crucial part of helping yourself and others learn and be more satisfied with life! Enjoy and as always we appreciate your interest and contributions.

JS

Full Life Heroes: Lucia Whalen

Lucia Whalen, the woman who placed the 911 call that led to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, has made a public statement about her involvement in the incident.

With all the controversy and misunderstanding surrounding the racially charged incident, it is good to see that Ms. Whalen has been given an opportunity to exonerate herself. Initially characterized as a prejudiced busybody, it now turns out–thanks to the recently released tape of the 911 call–that Ms Whalen’s call did in fact display the height of sensitivity and neighborly concern.

For her public-minded spirit and calm, considered response to the ensuing furor, I applaud Ms. Whalen.

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