The Impact of Connection

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Does the internet and social media make us more connected or disconnected? You have probably heard this question being discussed on many occasions. Although there are various ways of looking at the topic, I will share my experience.

When I asked this question to a group of students in Mercy College during my Stress Mastery presentation a couple of months ago, at first the students did not want to respond. When I spoke about it a bit more and invited a response, I saw the students’ eyes well up, and quite a few said they feel isolated and lonely all the time.

And when we did a connection exercise together and some humanity was exchanged, tears were rolling down most students’ cheeks regardless of gender. Even the “tough”-looking guys showed their feelings and were emotional.

Did you know that there are studies showing that loneliness is becoming an epidemic in many countries, threatening physical health more than smoking and obesity? Obviously, mental health and well-being are also affected by persistent feelings of loneliness, and studies do talk about that as well.

Here are two of the articles that discuss the topic, from Harvard and from WebMD.

Summarizing one aspect: the nation’s 75 million millennials (ages 23-37) and Generation Z adults (18-22) are lonelier than any other U.S. demographic and report being in worse health than older generations at similar ages. Both articles mention this quote:

“Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.” ~Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States

So, what can we do to help ourselves and those around us?

Let’s understand what connection is. Connection is not an exchange of information, it is an exchange of presence, emotion and humanity. As human beings, we are wired to connect and have a community, so first let’s be aware of that.

This is a big topic, so for now I want to give you some steps you can start implementing or do more of, to help move in a good direction:

  • Be authentic, and trust that even with our imperfections, our presence and connection is important and valuable
  • Be genuinely interested in others, because every person wants to feel cared about and connected to others
  • We communicate in many ways, so remember that a smile, a word of interest, a touch (when appropriate), can all make people feel connected, including oneself!

These are skills we can all learn. I hope you can enjoy practicing and connecting.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

The “4Cs” of Confidence

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When change and challenge are knocking at your door, do you at times get a feeling of self-doubt creeping in? That is, moments when you start thinking “you are not good enough” or “what you have is not good enough”?

I know those moments: we all have them. Let’s talk about how to turn them around.

How? With what I call the “4Cs of Confidence.”

Confidence is a muscle you build through skillful exertion, not as some people think a personality trait. It comes from purposeful thinking and action which empowers you.

“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”  
                     ~Honore de Balzac

Your moment of doubt is the moment to implement your 4Cs. Here they are:

CompetenceThink of your wins, knowledge, skills, and talents. The more competence you have or start to gain in a task the more confident you can become.

CompassionSelf-doubt and insecurity that you feel may also come from being hard on yourself and allowing the self-negative talk to continue. As soon as you are aware of this negative self-talk shift it to compassion by releasing the self-judgement and talking to yourself as if you were talking to someone you deeply care about.

CongruenceWhen your thinking, feeling, and actions are in alignment you can trust yourself more. We all can sense when we are not being true to ourselves, or those moments when we are not in harmony between inner feelings and outer actions.

ConnectionWhen we feel connected to others, we feel better about ourselves. We know we are not alone and that helps us feel more valued and confident. We also can learn more about ourselves through interaction with others. 

I never thought I would love throwing punches

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“Totally relax your body, open your ribs, and pretend you have no arms and no body… now wind up and connect to the energy and swing…” BAM!

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I did not know I was that strong nor that I could ever throw powerful punches.

I have been practicing Tai Chi Chuan for about 5 years now, not knowing where it will take me. The health benefits and the meditation aspect were the main reasons I wanted to learn Tai Chi. If you have met me or seen my picture you know that I would not be the best boxer given my size and my physical capabilities. Yet through Tai Chi I have also discovered how softness and awareness can overcome any force when we can tap into our authentic power.

Tai Chi Chuan in Roslyn, LI

Authentic power has its roots in the deepest parts of our being, not in the physical dominance. My understanding now is that when we pursue life thinking about power being external we tap into the lizard brain that is fear-, competition-, and survival-based. In this way of thinking our life becomes stressed, aggressive, and less authentic. Looking at the world right now economically, politically, and socially, what do we see?

On the other hand, when we align with the most authentic part of ourselves we experience a different power, one filled with meaning and purpose. It is power in harmony with life, expanding in all directions with positive energy. And yet, it can throw a very fierce punch!

What if this is the next stage of our evolution as a species?

For myself to fully embrace this consciousness, I am aware that it will require a lot of practice—and I am willing to commit to that.

As the saying goes “inch by inch it is a cinch”. And on that journey you too may find yourself loving punching!

Three truths to live by

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Last week in my live event I talked about the three truths that I live by in my life that has brought me inner peace and success. For almost all of us, these require years of practice to realize in their true meaning, and that is a process in which I am also growing.

Truth #1: Seeing life as is. 
Life is as it is. Not good, not bad; not challenging, not supporting; not loving, not fearing… just is. Life is all about change, change cannot satisfy our desire therefore everything that changes brings stress. It is not life that is causing the stress it is the demands we have on life.

Truth #2: Being in harmony with life.
When our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions align with what is real, we are in harmony. Being in harmony is where we find inner and outer peace. Not for selfish desires but for the welfare of all, because that is our real nature.

Truth #3: Our life is shaped by our mind.

We become what we think about. Our mind has a bias to negativity to keep us safe so focusing on the positive at the beginning may require more effort on our part. Yet we can train our minds to focus on what we choose. 


How do these truths matter in daily life?

I have observed a collective anxiety, anger, and stress in our society, and in other countries as well. We are coping with an intense amount of fear both personally and together.

Each one of us has a role in changing it. It is when we decide to face the darkness – within ourselves and the world – that we begin to see the light.

We are forced to develop a more mature consciousness that can only happen when we go deep and deal with what hurts. Who we decide to become and how we show up in the face of those challenges in our lives is connected to how the world will change in the coming years.

I invite you to decide how you want to show up at the beginning of each day. Connect to the these three truths, and connect to your full self, taking a step toward changing your world and our collective world. 

You want less stress? Then don’t be positive!

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For many years through some of my many readings and through different trainings, I thought I could be optimistic and enthusiastic at all times. But finally I realized that that was just humanly not possible. 

This unrealistic demand for unrelenting positivity is, I believe, one of the downfalls of the positive thinking movement. People think they should be positive all the time and they don’t like themselves or others when they are negative. And this demand on reality can create lots of stress.

As human beings we are here to live every spectrum of all emotions and experience our life through these different expressions. If we can master our self-knowledge and have the emotional wisdom to understand what each emotion shows us, we can neutralize ourselves and come back to our center/heart and be accepting of the given situation without any lopsided perception and be able to observe what is as is and make a better decision from this neutrality.

There are negative feelings in each of us, and they can be clues for what needs attentions; so-called negative responses only become limiting when we are stuck with them and do not use them as a guide for making a change in thoughts or a change in actions.

As you embrace all that you are and all that is you, you center yourself and give yourself the freedom to choosehow to respond at each moment.

I practice this approach every day, and I find it makes a big difference for me.

How he prioritized himself, and ease followed

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A while back, a gentleman came to me for coaching whom we’ll call Bill. Bill had been having panic attacks and was so overwhelmed, he didn’t know what to do. No matter how many hours he worked, it didn’t make a difference in his “to-do” list. There was always more and more to do, and it was causing him a lot of anxiety.

As we talked, I saw that Bill had lost his focus. I told him that unless he put himself as the top priority, nothing else would get done in a satisfactory way.

What does it mean to make ourselves the top priority?

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For Bill, one aspect of making himself a priority is that in the morning he does whatever he feels called to do, in order to center himself that particular day.

The morning practice that we decided on for him consists of meditation, exercise, and reading, and he emphasizes one or another of these on a given morning to match what feels is most needed.

Once he feels centered, he can look at his “to-do” list and choose to do the three most impactful items, and only those three items. The rest? He let’s them go, crosses them off or delegates them.

Just by doing those simple things to prioritize himself over everything else, Bill has doubled and then tripled his income and began ending his work day two hours earlier. He is now on the elliptical machine about 45 minutes a day and meditating daily, as well. The panic attacks and anxiety have eased off considerably.



Have you lost sight of yourself? What small change can you make when you wake up tomorrow to shift some attention back onto what’s most important—meaning you?

I want to support you in prioritizing the most important person in your life. YOU.

AAA Method to Refocus and Recharge Your Life

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How many things do you have to do today, this week, this month? If you’re like most people, your life is filled with lots of tasks, and often not much else. That can lead to a feeling of exhaustion and stress.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

It is a lot easier for most people to “do” than to “be.” Sometimes we are even proud of the lengths of our “to-do” lists, when not frustrated by them.

At the end of the day, though, we are always left with more to do, and the cycle goes on and on.

People usually do not stop to ask, “What do I need?” and “What can I do right now that will re-charge and fulfill me?”

Because then we might think of ourselves as selfish. To counteract that, you start giving to others as another form of doing. But where are you giving from? From fullness, or from depletion?

Your ability to give and to accomplish your goals will multiply, once you begin focusing more on yourself – on being instead of doing.

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Here’s a little formula you can use, which I call the “AAA Formula”:

  1. Awareness: Stop and be willing and able to look at yourself.
  2. Acceptance: Accept whatever comes to the surface when you look at yourself.
  3. Action: Then—and do this only after awareness and acceptance—take inspired action, which will take you toward what you want to create.

Who are better communicators, women or men?

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While gender differences have been widely researched and certain behavioral differences observed and labeled in our society, it is not appropriate to stereotype.

The differences between each individual are far more significant than the gender-based differences. This difference between individuals applies to the capability for communication, as well.

The truth is we all need to acquire good communication skills to connect, lead, persuade — and simply to get along! Since relationships of all kinds are absolutely essential for well-being and success, we need to keep developing the ability to relate and connect constantly.

Authentic and compassionate dialogue with ourselves and others can be challenging at times.

Here is an assessment that you can take to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses during your communication process.

Based on your insights gained from taking the assessment, what is one thing (maybe even two things) you can do differently the next time you have a conversation with someone?

And I thought my dishes will be washed…

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“If you have time, try to wash the pots in the sink,” said the mother as she walked out the door to go to her office. Her teenage son, head down concentrating on the cell phone, grunted in reply, “Uh-huh.” To the mother’s dismay, the pots remained untouched when she returned home that evening. The son, when confronted by his frustrated mother, excused his lack of action with the explanation, “You said ‘if I had time,’ and I was at the mall all day.”

Yes, it is funny, but if it happens to you, not so funny, right?

At times, do you feel that you are not heard or seen?
Do your efforts not seem to lead to the returns you expected?

Misunderstandings similar to the one described above arise at work, in schools, on the playground, and at home creating conflicts, resentment, and disconnection.

Communication issues are the number one reason for relationship problems. They can get in the way of people connecting at a meaningful level.

And after all, isn’t it the relationships we have that help determine whether we feel happy or miserable?

Effective communication skills are vital for us to live a fulfilling life.

But despite the importance of communicating effectively, communication skills are very misunderstood, and one of the most challenging skills to successfully use.

So, if you want to build strong, meaningful, and more enjoyable long-term relationships with your family, friends, and colleagues…

If you want to succeed in your business life…

If you want to be more appreciated and influential…

Then you need to be able to COMMUNICATE effectively.

And communication is not all about using words.

According to studies, your words contribute only 7% to the effectiveness of your message. Your voice–how you sound when you’re speaking–contributes 38% to the effectiveness of your message. Body language, which is what you do and how you look when speaking, contributes the remaining 55% to the effectiveness of your message. Your own state of mind when communicating is of vital importance.

What if, when speaking to her son about washing dishes, the mother had said, “I need you to wash these pots so I can cook tonight. When can you get to these, at latest by 5:00 this evening?” The verbal response, and the actions, would have had more meaning and avoided what, in reality, was a mutual frustration.

When a child (or significant other or colleague at work) evades being response-able, they are weakened and allowed to avoid, while you of course feel frustrated. And when communication does work, everyone feels empowered. Effective communication can make a big difference in your daily life.

This is not how I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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Chocolates, cards, roses… Will you be my Valentine?

When I was in high school, I found a book by Leo Buscaglia entitled “LOVE”—at the time it was quite popular. As I read the book something was stirred up in me. As a matter of fact, I brought the book with me from Turkey when I moved to the United States! Since then I have been studying love so that I could expand in it and with it.

So, what is love? It can be:

  1.  An emotion
  2.  An action
  3.  A state of being
  4.  An ability
  5.  A connection

Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks used 7 words to define the different states or kinds of love:

Storge: natural affection, the love you share with your family
Philia: the love that you have for friends
Eros: sexual and erotic desire kind of love (positive or negative)
Agape: this is the unconditional love, or divine love
Ludus: this is playful love, like childish love or flirting
Pragma: long standing love
Philautia: the love of the self (negative or positive)

A lot of choices, right? Which one do we mean when we say “love”?

To me love is happening when I feel that warm presence of being connected to myself so that I can be connected to someone else, and to life itself. It is when all worries, fears, and lack are lifted and I am present and open to the moment. Love is an emotion and connection in action creating the “awe” of life. It is all inclusive. It is a practice, not something we find or not find; it is our essence.

Then my question is: if someone is single and not in a relationship or experiencing romance, are they out of luck on Valentine’s Day? Is love inclusive of everyone or is it exclusive for select few?

With world population well over seven billion, it seems strange to think that anyone could be lonely. The Internet and cell phones are everywhere, but in the midst of all of this community, many of us still find ourselves alone. Our lives are crowded with people but what we really need and crave is intimacy—the certain knowledge that someone is familiar with us, that someone knows who we are and cares about what happens to us.

Loneliness, at its core, is a feeling of disconnection, a feeling that nobody loves us. All of us want to be loved. So this Valentine may I invite you to extend your love to all of life including yourself. Making this kind of love our prevailing desire will make us live in our highest potential and optimize everything from health to fulfillment and wisdom.

I plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day like this. Will you join me?

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