Juicy Grape https://juicygrape.com Be MORE - Become a Juicy Grape! Fri, 24 Jul 2020 15:40:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Learn to Relax & Reset Your Brain for Productivity https://juicygrape.com/learn-to-relax-reset-your-brain-for-productivity/ https://juicygrape.com/learn-to-relax-reset-your-brain-for-productivity/#respond Fri, 24 Jul 2020 10:15:10 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=376 During the pandemic we moved on to working remotely: our living rooms became our offices, face to face meetings were replaced with virtual ones, all of us who previously had no work e-mail on personal devices now do. We are celebrating the flexibility we now have in this forever-changed world, however, the line between work and personal life is completely blurred. It seems as if we are cheated into thinking that now we have more work-life balance where, to most of us, quite opposite is the truth.

In the past months the question I’ve been asked most frequently was “How can I be more productive?”. The right question to ask is “How can I relax/how can I reset my brain?”. The reason why many of us were not able to be as productive is because we couldn’t maintain our focus and energy levels. In order to do so we need to have a good quality rest – to reset our brain. There has to be a balance – we have to become more well-rounded. Our mornings are scatty because we check our e-mail whilst we are still in pyjamas. This “innocent” little act effectively determines the quality of the rest of our day. Our sleep at night is disturbed because we are scrolling through our phone right before going to bed and worrying about things we’ll have to deal with the next day.

We are desperate to control things from our living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens, however, who or what is really in control? Our lizard brain – oldest part of the brain responsible for our survival is behind the steering wheel. We live in a chronic state of stress, in “fight-or-flight” mode. In response to stress, our sympathetic nervous system is activated and starts stimulating the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Our body deploys all the energy in the muscles – heartbeat goes up, breathing intensifies and we are ready to either fight the tiger or run away from it. The energy we need for healing and repair, for digesting our food, for replenishing the body with nutrients is used to prepare for the encounter with the tiger. Effectively, the tiger that is in our head. Our body doesn’t make a distinction between perceived threat (i.e. nasty e-mail from the client, criticising comment on social media) and a real threat (i.e. an encounter with a stranger on a dark alleyway) – both are seen as equally threatening tigers.

Unless we find the balance, we will burn out, become overweight, develop chronic disease, age much faster and simply live a very unfulfilling life. We are here to enjoy, to be well-rounded human beings, not the shadows of our actual potential selves.

The answer to this is discipline. We have to start living intentionally. We have to realise the importance of play and enjoyment, the importance of balance in life. It is the only way to be productive, creative, healthy and fulfilled.

  • Schedule activities that activate parasympathetic nervous system: playing with children or animals, going for a walk in the nature, yoga, martial arts, deep breathing, meditation, massage, exercise, playing music, arts etc.
  • Have a screen-free time 2 hours before bed. Use this time to read, to socialise or to play board games with your kids.
  • Practice being present – leave your mobile off the dinner table, actively listen to somebody talking, engage in conversations. Most of us put some effort in when spending evening with friends, however, not when we are eating dinner with our spouse and/or children. Being physically present in the room is not the same as actually being engaged. Bring your mind to the table with you. It will not only improve your relationship with others, it will give you a break – you will feel replenished when you go back to your business. Furthermore, you will digest your food so much better!
  • Establish a morning routine that works for you, so your e-mail is not the first thing you do when you open your eyes. Whether it is a cup of coffee on the terrace, going for a jog, meditation, yoga, chapter of a book or ice-cold shower, it is up to you.
  • Set intention for the day, i.e. “I choose to take it easy today”, “I choose to focus on what gives me joy today” etc.

Remember, nobody had epiphanies when intensely thinking to the point of exhaustion. Insights come when our mind wanders (in the shower, when exercising, during/after meditation etc.). The best thing we can do, especially if we need to make an important decision or to be more productive, is to make time to relax – to fine-tune ourselves.

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Change the Meaning – Change Your Life https://juicygrape.com/change-meaning-change-your-life/ https://juicygrape.com/change-meaning-change-your-life/#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2020 14:12:53 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=359 How can we use body’s own intelligence in order to better navigate our lives? Before I started practicing coaching, I never knew that there are people who cannot pinpoint how they feel. They live too much in their head, so everything in their inner world is rationalised. As a matter of fact, we all might struggle to identify our feelings at times, let alone recognise underlying emotions.

Why is it important?

Understanding and recognising our emotions is vital for our well-being. Staying stuck in feelings like anger, irritation or bitterness long-term is detrimental to our physical health. Furthermore, emotional awareness is critical if we want to build strong & fulfilling relationships and raise happy children.

What is the difference between feelings and emotions?

Emotion arises from the body’s response to external or internal stimuli (it is an unconscious process). Feeling is our interpretation of that emotion. Our life experience is dependent upon our feelings – interpretations of our emotions. The amazing news is that all we need to do in order to improve the quality of our lives is to change those interpretations / give different meaning to emotions we are experiencing. However, first and foremost we need to be able to identify the feeling and recognise the emotion behind it.

For example, behind anger (feeling – secondary emotion) there might be deep sadness (emotion) that was caused by a loss of a loved one (i.e. divorce – external stimuli). You can put two people in exactly the same situation – going through divorce (same circumstances) – one of them will experience feelings of peace and relief, the other one will be raging angry. Although, they both have the same underlying emotion – sadness caused by a loss of a loved one, they give different meaning/interpretation to this emotion in association with external stimuli. The first person is probably accepting 50% of responsibility for a failed marriage, therefore, his/her interpretation is “Well, we were both unhappy in this relationship, it would have ended sooner or later, what are the lessons for me to learn here, so my next relationship is better”. The person with raging anger is probably blaming his/her partner for the situation, therefore, his/her interpretation might be “This is an insult to me. How dare he/she treat me like this? He/she stole the best years of my life.” Two exactly the same situations but completely different experiences. If you are emotionally aware, you will always have a choice. If you are not aware, you will most likely have similar experiences to those of a person number two.

Begin with feelings.

Start acknowledging how you feel. Check in with yourself at least couple of times a day. There will be moments when it is easier for you to understand what you feel, i.e. your spouse just said something that made you nervous. You will certainly know that you are not feeling ok. Finding a word in order to accurately describe the feeling might also present a challenge. Here is a printable list of feelings on Etsy to help you. There are so many different words, yet we are using very few.

Recognise underlying emotion.

Let’s say, you feel nervous after something your spouse said to you. What is the emotion behind this feeling? It is probably insecurity / a fear of losing your partner. However, we are all unique – not everybody interprets the same emotion exactly the same way. Furthermore, we don’t necessarily experience the same emotion as a result of the same external or internal stimuli as another person. It very much depends on our past experiences.  The information I am sharing would be true to some extent for most people, however, use it only as a starting point to get to know yourself.

Great news is that emotions live in our body. This natural body’s intelligence can aid us to discover what is behind our feelings much quicker. According to the Body Atlas produced by Finnish scientists, fear creates a lot of heat in and around our upper body. Therefore, we might experience tightness in our jaw, chest and/or shoulders. It will manifest as some sort of uneasiness in this area. Sadness generates a lot of cold in our legs and arms. We may even feel our limbs going slightly numb. Happiness, on the contrary, heats up the whole body and can be particularly felt around heart area and on our face – we get flushes.

Change interpretation.

Catch emotion early enough, accept it for what it is and find a meaning that supports your growth and well-being. It is very important once you recognise the emotion to stop the mental process taking you down the path of least resistance – the usual route. Asking yourself right questions can be incredibly helpful in breaking the pattern of habitual thinking. What is here for me to learn? How can I do better next time? What meaning / interpretation / thought could help me feel better in this moment / this situation? Is it about me – what do I know to be true about myself?

Be curious about yourself, increase your awareness and start improving the quality of your life!

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

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Rewire Your Brain for Success https://juicygrape.com/rewire-your-brain-for-success/ https://juicygrape.com/rewire-your-brain-for-success/#respond Wed, 24 Jun 2020 15:26:01 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=344 Would you like your life to be defined by the vision of your future or by your past?

We are creatures of habit. Whether we realise it or not, we have the same thoughts every day. Those thoughts lead us to feel a certain way and our feelings inspire action. The results we get reaffirm the beliefs we have about ourselves and the world. It is a cycle.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Neuroscientifically speaking, our brain always takes the path of least resistance – it uses the most established neural pathways. Majority of them were formed in our childhood. Through repetition they became so ingrained in our brain that we are no longer aware of the process. It is like driving on autopilot, having our past in charge of the destination. Little children do not have the ability to apply logic. If mummy or daddy are screaming their lungs out, kids won’t think that mummy or daddy is in a bad mood, they’d think “I’m not good enough”. Thirty years later each time somebody is upset with us, we still think we are not good enough. It is not because we are still incapable of applying any logic to the situation. At this point it is so much a part of “who and how we are” that we don’t even question it. The reason brain takes the path of least resistance is because it is preserving the energy. It takes a lot of energy to build a new neural pathway – to start firing different neurons in our brain and go down the non-habitual thinking-feeling-acting route. Something that happens in a split second needs to be brought into conscious awareness, dismantled and reassembled – that is an enormous task. Here is why we need an average of 66 days to form a new habit.

In other words, our brain is designed to go back to what is familiar. If we stumble on success that is completely unfamiliar to us, our brain will do anything to get us back to where we are comfortable. That is why we jeopardise our own success, relationship, health, etc.

How can we get out of the loop?

Studies have shown that human brain cannot discriminate between a memory and a vision of the future. Athletes employ this knowledge to improve their performance. They practice that golf swing, that basketball shot, that football goal in their mind – they visualise themselves to succeed before they even step on a pitch.

We start rewiring our brain by visualising, by making our brain familiar with what it is that we desire. Our brain has no idea whether we actually made that shot or we just imagined it. It is enough to visualise yourself running fast in order to raise your heart rate (just try it!). That’s the beauty of human mind.

How can we use all this scientific knowledge available to us to create the life we want? We begin by making a decision that our past won’t equal our future. We decide to be led by the vision of our future rather than by the ghosts of our past. Then we build it into our day:

  • We quieten our mind – get into meditative state.
  • We create the vision in our mind’s eye. When we do it right, it is vivid, colourful, emotional.
  • That vision is so real that we just stay there and feel incredibly grateful as if it already happened. In a state of intense appreciation our heart and brain start working coherently. It is such a healing process on a cellular level in itself.
  • We do it for 10-20 minutes every morning.

That vision accompanied by incredible feeling will stay available to us throughout the day, it will re-emerge each time we are about to make a decision, each time we are about to react in an old way, each time we start feeling down. When it re-emerges, we need to allow ourselves to go back there at least for few minutes. In the words of Michael Jordan, “Every time I feel tired while exercising and training, I close my eyes to see that picture, to see that list with my name. This usually motivates me to work again.” That’s what being led by the vision of our future looks like.

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Play the Appreciation Game https://juicygrape.com/play-the-appreciation-game/ https://juicygrape.com/play-the-appreciation-game/#respond Fri, 19 Jun 2020 10:26:19 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=340 “Play the appreciation game” – I was suggested once. I thought about many things I am grateful for in that moment. However, at the time I didn’t understand how fundamental this “game” is in our lives. It is very well to say that you are lucky to be who you are, to have amazing relationships and delightful children… However, we usually say it as a fact – provide ourselves or others with a statement knowing that on this planet there are thousands of people living far worse than us. Realisation that other people are worse off than us is not gratitude. The magic happens when we start feeling appreciation for the positive aspects of our lives, when we charge our words of gratitude with a true emotion.

According to the research conducted by Berkeley University, gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. We cannot feel appreciative and fearful, angry, resentful or lacking at the same time. When we shift our focus from what is wrong in our lives to what we can appreciate, the way we feel changes instantaneously. Furthermore, the studies have shown that long-term playing the appreciation game increases our determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy levels.

The long-term benefits of the “game” might take time to kick in but don’t let it discourage you. It is like building a muscle. We exercise several times a week in order to get fit. Of course, we feel great after each work-out, but more obvious results are visible in time.

When you feel frustrated, angry, jealous, lacking, can you make good decisions, can you come up with creative ideas? How would your relationship change if you traded your expectations for appreciation? Gratitude is a short-cut to feeling good, it is an antidote for any negative emotion. Whilst in the beginning feeling appreciative rather than resentful might be an effort, with practice it becomes natural.

Many studies have shown that gratitude makes us happier, more content, more efficient in our lives. It doesn’t mean that we stop striving to improve our living conditions, that we bury our career goals or stay in an unfulfilling relationship. Instead, we are reaching towards our dreams from a place of happiness and contentment – we make better decisions, we enjoy the ride, we have insights that guide us, we experience coincidences that help us get to where we want to go much quicker.

Rules of the game:

  1. It has to be done in writing.
  2. You have to write a minimum of 1 page (A4 – no cheating!) per day.
  3. It is best to do it in the morning after your exercise or / and meditation routine. This way it will set tone for the rest of your day.
  4. Pay special attention to things you feel resentful about – try to see something about them to appreciate, i.e. if you really don’t like your tiny flat, remember all the beautiful, cosy, romantic moments you had in it; if your relationship is far from great, think about the qualities in your partner that you admire. Appreciation is an antidote to all the negative feelings.
  5. Tiniest things count – a smile from a stranger, orchid that blossomed in the living room, child’s hug, etc.
  6. Charge your words with emotion. Really feel the gratitude. Don’t just rush to complete the page – do it properly.
  7. If you are struggling, just ask yourself “If I really wanted to be grateful, what would be those things I could potentially be grateful for?”. Sometimes it may take some effort to break the negative thinking patterns.
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Qu’est-ce que l’amour? …or A Tale About True Love https://juicygrape.com/quest-ce-que-lamour-or-a-tale-about-true-relationship/ https://juicygrape.com/quest-ce-que-lamour-or-a-tale-about-true-relationship/#respond Wed, 03 Jun 2020 09:08:57 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=335 “To love pleasure takes little. To love truly takes a hero who can manage his own fear.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

We get scared in the presence of something bigger than ourselves, in the presence of something we cannot grasp the meaning or purpose of, something we can barely find words to describe. It manifests as a magical power pushing us forward, giving us divine courage and willingness to mend our souls. It never just swings by unnoticed… It shakes the ground underneath our feet, it makes us lose our focus and taps into something we didn’t know existed deep down inside. Your Person – true soul mate has arrived.

It is easy to love that very special another when his/her sudden presence seems to be so fragile, when passion is at its peak and two souls seem to be dancing together again after millions of years of being apart. How effortless it appears to be when the universe is laying roses under our feet. We shiver when another shivers, we shelter another from anything this mighty world can bring their way, we always approach with open heart and mind – no past conditioning, no comparisons, no opinions of others… We jump into unknown that is dazzling with the most pleasant emotions, magical sensations – something not from this world. We drink buckets of holly water heaven has landed on us thinking of its limitless resource. This shall last forever!

Then heaven claims its share, usually at the time when we already forgot the responsibility we once had taken. Suddenly we see the “ugly” in another that does not inflict passion, does not drive excitement – certain imperfection, perhaps a weakness or two, maybe neediness that once was so appealing because it made us feel desired and now simply stands for what it actually is. Here is when most of us shake off the responsibility – “This has never been mine”, “It was a mistake”, “He/she has changed”. Some of us get scared that the “beautiful” we fell in love with once is gone forever and run. The others mingle for a little bit longer hoping that the situation will resolve by itself (the “ugly” will be gone with no effort on our part, perhaps we could pay a little bit of ignorance in a meantime).

Once we fall in love we tend not to see the other person for who they are but rather project the qualities of our own anima (female aspect of the soul) or animus (male aspect of the soul) on to the newly met partner / love object. Here is why this phase is called “being in love” rather than “love” itself.

Love happens when we actually start seeing the person for who they are and accepting the existence of the two – the “beautiful” and the “ugly”.

Unfortunately, very few of us are capable of showing courage and commitment in the face of the “ugly” or something we perceive as such. Hardly anybody hugs the “ugly” with warmth and compassion, with the willingness to learn – it is a conscious choice that has to be made, an effort taken knowing deeply in our soul that the “beautiful” is now transformed, evolved, grown into something yet unknown is waiting just around the corner.

“Inability to face and untangle the Skeleton Woman [to meet Lady Death] is what causes many love relationships to fail. To love, one must not only be strong, but wise. Strength comes from the spirit. Wisdom comes from experience with Skeleton Woman. <…> If one wishes to be fed for life, one must face and develop a relationship with the Life/Death/Life nature. When we have that, we are no longer bumbling along fishing for fantasies, but are made wise about the necessary deaths and startling births that create true relationship. When we face Skeleton Woman, we learn that passion is not something to go ‘get’ but rather something generated in cycles and given out. It is Skeleton Woman who demonstrates that a shared living together through all increase and decrease, through all endings and beginnings, is what creates an unparalleled devotional love.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I hear you – “it all sounds lovely but what do you suggest I do!?

  • Whenever you feel the “ugly” approaching, whenever Lady Death starts tapping on your shoulder instead of running away try to commit more.
  • Trade your expectations for appreciation. Simply list all the things that you love your person for. It can be a wonderful smile he/she has in the moments of intimate presence, his/her childish curiosity, life purpose, honesty and ability to speak his/her truth, his/her way of treating people and many more wonderful things which he/she must have plenty, otherwise you would be long gone.
  • Each time you are moving through cycles try to open the list, go through it and perhaps add more qualities, tiniest things count.
  • Remember, the essence of a person does not change. If you hold him/her in a loving embrace through the time difficult and oh-so-scary for both of you he/she will feel more confident to dance with Lady Death.
  • Most importantly, take responsibility for yourself and the relationship. His/her job is not to get out of their way trying to make you happy. Drop this selfish notion and do it now for your own good.

I read somewhere that relationship is a university of life. We have the greatest opportunity to grow out of our own fears and limitations through them. Use it wisely!

I really hope that when you encounter the treasure you will appreciate it, you will be willing to accept love in all its guises, you will nurture what has been brought your way. You will be wise and brave (because I know you are already!) and you will commit to stay in the presence of the “beautiful” and in the presence of the “ugly”.

Ps A very charming and funny Ted Talk on the subject: https://www.ted.com/talks/yann_dall_aglio_love_you_re_doing_it_wrong/transcript?language=en#t-4374

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Break the Habit of Procrastination https://juicygrape.com/break-the-habit-of-procrastination/ https://juicygrape.com/break-the-habit-of-procrastination/#respond Thu, 21 May 2020 08:25:14 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=329 It is a beautiful Tuesday morning. You woke up with an intention to write an article / complete your to-do list / call a potential client / finish a presentation / start eating healthy and exercising. It is 11am already and here is what you have achieved so far…. Listened extensively to every self-help piece of content on how to start writing / added more items on to your to-do list / cleaned the bathroom / organised your sock draw / commented on every single post on your Facebook news feed / had three cups of coffee and ate a bag of cookies. At the end of this beautiful Tuesday you are beating yourself up about not having done what you promised yourself to do. Then you relax into the evening after promising yourself to do all of those things as soon as you get up at 6am on Wednesday morning. Tomorrow is a new day after all.

We need to demystify procrastination because it really is not an inherent character trait. All of us procrastinate because our brain is designed this way. Procrastination is the limbic brain (the oldest part of our brain responsible for our survival) getting in the way of our greatest intentions. Our prefrontal cortex (much newer part of our brain) is active when we are making plans for our future, making decisions, etc. It is responsible for all those beautiful intentions. According to Dr Timothy Pychyl (professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa), our limbic brain is so primal and so well developed – it overrides the prefrontal cortex. Limbic brain always seeks immediate pleasure and pushes us towards avoiding immediate pain. Running away from the danger, finding food and having sex ensured the survival of the species. In a much more complex world of today, that same mechanism is driving us away from challenging and uncomfortable tasks (immediate pain) that would ensure a long-term success to a bag of cookies (immediate pleasure).

Dr Timothy Pychyl says that procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem. It is about being more focused on the immediate urgency of managing negative feelings and emotions than on getting on with a task.

Why does limbic brain get activated? The task you need to complete may be unpleasant (such as sacking an employee, making a cold call, start running) or there may be some deeper-rooted issues like a fear of failure or lack of self-belief/your ability to complete the task, particularly if you are starting something new. Limbic brain does not distinguish between actual danger and perceived danger. For your limbic brain making a cold call equals encountering an angry lion. It would rather have you sitting comfortably on the couch eating a bag of cookies.

If you procrastinate frequently, it becomes a habit. Those neural pathways in your brain get really established. It means next time you feel slight discomfort or unpleasantness about the task at hand, your brain will go: ”Ooh, there is a bag of crunchy cookies in the cupboard, you know…” or “Ooh, the laundry basket is really overflowing – I wonder if children have any clean clothes in the wardrobe”.

How to get out of this loop?

  • Using mindfulness meditation to downregulate the limbic system. Mindfulness meditation is very simple – it is about slowing down and being intensely present, both in your mind and body. If you closed your eyes and really felt the weight of your feet on the floor for few seconds right now, this would be it! Voila! You just did a micro mindfulness meditation. It is proven to significantly reduce the stress and anxiety – to calm down our limbic brain.
  • Retraining your brain. It means breaking the habit/the association and replacing it with a powerful alternative through repetition. Each time when you find yourself wanting to procrastinate instead of making a phone call, look for that negative emotion/feeling associated with the task. Is it fear? Did you know that fear and excitement present themselves in the body exactly the same way? You may be excessively sweating, shaking etc. Using this knowledge, what if you told yourself that you are excited about making this phone call, you are excited about getting to know this potential client and their needs. Change the meaning. The more you do it, the faster your brain starts associating that feeling of slight fear and discomfort with being excited.
  • Taking control. Dr Joe Dispenza uses meditation as a powerful tool to take back the control. If we are able to sit in silence on our meditation pillow for 20 minutes through discomfort, through wanting to stand up and go do things, through whatever comes up in our mind during this time, this is us claiming the power back from our limbic brain. We said we are going to do it and we are doing it. Start meditating every morning and watch how much more effective you will become. We are our greatest enemies, not our boss at work, not our spouse, not our annoying neighbour – it’s us who jeopardise our own success. Take back the control of your life.
  • 5 Second Rule. Mel Robbins suggests using 5 Second Rule which helps us to switch the operating system from limbic brain to prefrontal cortex. Each time you want to procrastinate, count backwards from 5 to 1. Mel started using it with waking up in the morning. Once the alarm rang, she would count 5-4-3-2-1 and jump out of the bed. Otherwise, the limbic brain would take over and tell us hundred reasons to stay in bed longer. Prefrontal cortex is responsible for complex cognitive behaviour – counting is a part of it. When we start counting our prefrontal cortex gets fired up. It is that same part of the brain where we made a conscious decision to wake up earlier in the first place.

Get into the habit of not negotiating with yourself, simply start doing what needs to be done. There is a great chance that once you start doing it, you will complete the task. Whether you use a 5 Second Rule, you practice taking control by meditating, you change the meaning of that unpleasant feeling or become a little bit more mindful, it is up to you. Every single one of these tools has the power to get you from thinking about the task to actually doing it.

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Master Your Confidence https://juicygrape.com/master-your-confidence/ https://juicygrape.com/master-your-confidence/#respond Thu, 14 May 2020 09:27:28 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=321 There is a lot of mysticism surrounding confidence. We all heard people say (or even said it ourselves!): “I am not confident enough to take on this challenge”, “I like confident men/women”, “He/she is not confident enough for this role”. It sounds as if confidence is some sort of an attractive magical quality that you either have a gene for or you don’t. While many studies suggest that we are born with certain genetic predisposition – geared towards either more positive thinking or more negative, latest neuroscience proves that biology is not our destiny.

My father was always telling me that the more you know, the more you know that you don’t know. He used to illustrate it with tableware (precisely, with a cup and a plate). If a table, on which the cup and the plate are placed, is the “unknown”, and the areas that plate and cup occupy – what we know, then the circumference of the plate and the circumference of the cup would represent the contact between the “known” and the “unknown”. Plate’s circumference is far greater, therefore, it has more contact with the “unknown”. The more we are exposed to new learnings, life experiences, other people (especially those who don’t think the way we do!), the more we realise that there is only so much that we really know. Jumping to conclusions becomes insidious, because we are now aware that there is so much more to discover. Certainty then is very short-lived, so is confidence in anything other than our own ability to deal with life.

While confidence in general is a variable, confidence in yourself is something you can start practicing, build it day by day and, eventually, master – it is a skill. Self-confidence, broken into pieces, is simply liking, respecting yourself and knowing that you are capable of dealing with whatever life throws at you.

How?

  • Show up fully every day, for every single task you have to complete. Don’t cut corners – do it the best you can. Write that e-mail with all you’ve got, prepare that meal to the best of your ability. Remember, you can fool everybody around you but not yourself, doesn’t matter how “smooth” you are.
  • Take risks. According to a study published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, individuals with chronically accessible uncertainty who were further exposed to an uncertainty manipulation paradoxically reported reduced uncertainty. The cycles of success and failure increase our confidence in our ability to deal with whatever comes our way.
  • Do difficult things. Don’t dedicate to your assistant to deliver the letter of termination of employment to an employee. Do it yourself. Don’t just start avoiding people or stop responding to their messages, explain them what is going on. You want to go through life being able to look people in the eye.
  • Keep promises to yourself. If you promise to eat well, exercise, quit smoking/drinking, etc. and don’t follow-through, at the end of the day you will feel like a failure.
  • Don’t neglect small daily disciplines. Make your bed, exercise, eat well, read. At the end of the day you will be feeling good about yourself, about your health, about your future.
  • Get into a habit of following-through. Of course, some goals are no longer worth pursuing. However, stick to those that are important, find strong enough “why” and complete them.
  • Be honest with yourself. If you don’t know something, ask for help, read a book, research, get on a training course. Remember, you don’t want to be a “cup”, you want to be an ever expanding “plate”.
  • Acknowledge yourself for successes and be compassionate. At the end of each day acknowledge yourself for your successes and treat yourself with compassion regarding the things that perhaps didn’t go as well as you wanted them to. Don’t beat yourself up. Close the day by simply asking yourself two questions: “What did I do great today?” and “What could I do better tomorrow?”
  • Don’t buy into illusion. Remember, blind confidence is arrogance. It is an assumption that one knows everything they need to know already. Blindly confident are the “cups” of this world.

In the words of Robin Sharma, “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous in the end.”

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Overcome Addiction for Long-Term Success https://juicygrape.com/overcome-addiction-for-long-term-success/ https://juicygrape.com/overcome-addiction-for-long-term-success/#respond Wed, 06 May 2020 13:48:48 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=314 It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon, you open the website of your favourite retailer and start piling clothes into your shopping basket. Do you need them? Not really. However, you feel like hunting – putting stuff into the basket, deleting and replacing. It feels good!

Perhaps it is a Monday evening and you had a really really difficult day. You reach for a glass of wine that will make things just a little better. After all, it really did when you felt not-so-good the day before…

What we are truly after is a pleasure we get from dopamine release. Any addictive substance or behaviour is our shortcut to brain’s reward centre. Nicotine, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, food – all fall into this category.

According to Harvard Medical School, the reward circuit in the brain includes areas involved with motivation and memory as well as with pleasure. Addictive substances and behaviours stimulate the same circuit – and then overload it. Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behaviour causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens (the area of the brain involved in reward and reinforcement) and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it. That is, this process motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure.

The brain is very adaptive, so the same amount of alcohol, drugs or clothes in your shopping basket soon won’t be enough to get your reward circuit neurons firing. Therefore, you will need to increase the dose of your “poison of choice”. Needless to say, this is not a sustainable way of getting your dopamine high.

How to get out of this vicious cycle?

Switch from acting habitually to acting deliberately – with the outcome in mind. In other words, seek long-term rewards rather than instant gratification.

Acting habitually

A glass of wine tonight (you may think) will make you relax and cheer you up, however, it will add up to your waistline and toxicity. Buying three beautiful dresses will give you a moment of (so called) happiness, however, it may get you in debt. That cigarette (you think) will relieve your stress for 5 minutes, however, smoking will make you age faster among other things. Somewhere along the way we picked up these habits, and now they are our brain’s immediate “go-to”.

Remember, our brain is designed to protect us from pain and seek pleasure – to make sure we survive. Whatever you associate with pain, your brain will make you run away from. Whatever you associate with pleasure, it will make you seek.

Acting deliberately

It is acting with the outcome in mind. Think about your result.

  • What do you want in terms of your health and fitness? If you want to rock that bikini or mankini, start relieving pressure after a hard day at work by exercising. When you are exercising your brain releases dopamine. Furthermore, it releases serotonin (your “happy” hormone) and endorphins (body’s natural pain killers). Here is your high reached by much healthier means.
  • Food is addictive too! What should you eat? In order to contribute to your well-being, you should eat deliberately too. It means eat to nourish your body, not to trash it. Avoid all the most addictive foods such as sugars, refined grains, highly processed foods containing excitotoxins (i.e. crisps, packaged soups, cheese, smoked meats, sauces, fast foods etc.). These foods are made to be addictive, they are highly inflammatory and, eaten consistently, will make you fat, ill and miserable. You, literally, are what you eat.
  • What do you want in terms of your career? If you want a higher position in the company or your own successful business, set yourself some short-term goals. Each week dedicate to achieving something that will take you one step closer to what you desire. Anticipation that comes with working towards completing a goal makes our brain release dopamine. Boom! Here is another high.
  • What do you want in terms of your relationship? If you want a closer connection and more passion, forget about downing gin & tonics while binge-watching Netflix with your significant other. Learn something new together, have an honest conversation, make time for intimacy. During sex brain releases a ton of dopamine. Yes, sex is addictive, however, if your outcome is to connect and bring more passion into relationship, it won’t end up being just mechanics to you.

There is nothing wrong with having an occasional glass of wine, piece of cake or going shopping as long as we are doing it deliberately.

Create rules for yourself that really contribute to your long-term success. If you want that dress or a glass of wine, make it a reward rather than an instant gratification. Delay it. Allow yourself some time to “deserve” it.

Always strive for a long-term success rather than short-lived instant pleasure. Don’t let addiction (however mild you think it is) get in between you and your dreams.

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Build Your Strength https://juicygrape.com/build-your-strength/ https://juicygrape.com/build-your-strength/#respond Wed, 29 Apr 2020 13:54:23 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=301 I often speak about doing the inner work: meditation, raising awareness, being present, staying in a resourceful state, observing your feelings etc. Whilst this work is truly important, and self-analysis is crucial for personal growth, there is absolutely nothing that can give us mental/emotional strength faster than physical exercise. Inner work requires patience, dedication and discipline. Physical exercise helps us follow-through.

For most of us the time has come to apply more resistance in order to grow not only our physical but mental/emotional muscles too. Probably more than ever before, we need outstanding mental/emotional resilience. We must stand strong on our two feet, we can’t be wobbly – we have to be decisive. Furthermore, we need to be willing to go that extra mile, firstly, by increasing resistance during an exercise, secondly, by taking this practice off our mats and into our work/our relationship/our ways of contributing to this world.

Many sources would tell us that our mental strength determines the strength of our physical body, however, I truly believe that it works the other way around too – we can build our mental/emotional strength by strengthening our body. Here is why:

  • Motion is emotion.

Movement changes our body’s chemistry in an instant. Even a smallest movement, such as putting on a smile when you don’t feel like it, will change how you feel. Adopt different postures (of a depressed person, of a confident person, of a happy person), and see how each posture impacts the way you feel. When you go through a challenging workout routine, what does that make you feel like? Like a Spartan, like a champion – you call it whatever resonates with you. If you are feeling like a champion frequently, what happens to your mental/emotional muscles? You start building champion’s mentality outside-in.

  • “Your vibes speak louder than your words”Gabby Bernstein

Good heart-pumping exercise moves stagnant energy. Energy is meant to be flowing in our bodies without any restrictions. This is vitally important for our well-being, and it determines how we show up in the world. In its natural flow our energy is our life-force. The more blocked the energy, the more sluggish, indecisive, upset we feel. By restoring a natural flow of energy, we can reverse these negative feelings.

  • Exercising releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin.

Dopamine boosts mood, motivation and attention. Endorphins are body’s natural pain killers. They relieve emotional stress and physical pain. Serotonin is known as a happy chemical because it contributes to our happiness and feeling of well-being. Wouldn’t it be great to get a bit of body’s own chemical advantage here?

  • Your body is a vessel for your soul’s purpose.

It may sound like a “woo-woo” to you. However, think about it. We need our bodies to be at their best in order to achieve things we desire in this world. The stronger are our bodies, the more confidence we have in our ability to get to our ultimate destination.

  • “I can, and I will” / getting out of your comfort zone.

The easiest way to get into a habit of getting out of our comfort zone is through exercise. By increasing resistance in our workout routines, we make pushing the limits familiar – we train our “I can, and I will” muscles that, eventually, will help us push through any adversity in life.

Just like a muscle, we grow through resistance – through challenge. Let’s increase resistance in our exercising routines, so when life throws a challenge at us next time, we are more confident in our ability to deal with it, and we have a much greater resilience.

Wherever you are with your workouts, try something new. The next step for you might be yoga, running, cycling or weight lifting… There is no one-size-fits-all here. Just note where you are right now and keep on taking it to the next level. Simply “push harder” as your personal fitness trainer would tell you.

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Awaken Your Creativity https://juicygrape.com/awaken-your-creativity/ https://juicygrape.com/awaken-your-creativity/#respond Wed, 22 Apr 2020 09:58:42 +0000 https://juicygrape.com/?p=279 We know deeply inside of ourselves that there is more to this – there is more juice to our lives, there is that flow that we may have had glimpses of, there is that artist’s flare, there is that vibrancy that we have vague memories of. It is that creative force in each one of us that was suppressed at some point in our lives, whether by our own “rational” thinking, by the influence our parents had on us, by the pressure from our peers or wider society.

The very fact that this suppression happened means that we allowed it, we sacrificed a powerful force in order to fit in, to be loved, to be accepted and to be “normal”. This sacrifice cost us our vibrancythe life forceour inner firethe kundalini or shakti in yogic tradition. Many of us started dying inside. It may sound dramatic, and it is if you look at the long-term consequences. Great analogy to this is a fable about boiling frog. If we put a frog in a boiling water, it will jump out immediately. However, if we put a frog into cold water and heat it up to boiling slowly, the frog won’t perceive the danger (it would rather feel like in a jacuzzi!) and will be boiled to death. This is exactly what is happening to us right now. We are slowly and consistently pouring water over that inner fire without realising the danger.

We got into a habit of quieting the calling of that powerful force by overeating, extensively shopping, consuming alcohol and/or drugs, binge-watching television, scrolling up and down on our little screens, even exercising to the point of obsession.

I, too, disconnected from my creative force for a long period of time. It was only when I hit what I thought was the bottom of overdrinking, binge-watching and oversocialising with people who were depleting my inner resources, that I started listening to that calling deep within asking for nourishment.

If we do not hold respect for our inner creativity sanctuary, for our ability bring into being incredible things, whether that is by painting, writing, sculpting, playing music, singing, cooking, doing business, building houses, etc., we can’t expect others to respect it either. It is what we present to the world that gets reflected back to us. If people around us don’t believe in our ability to create, asking ourselves “do I believe in it?” is always a good place to start. And if we were pouring water on that inner fire long enough, we probably don’t believe in it at all.

In her book “Women Who Run with The Wolves” Clarissa Pinkola Estes says that “Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only”. Art here means anything that is born from that life force, anything that is brought into being by us. Using the story called “La Llorona”, author tells us to take back our river of creativity, and she lists several steps we need to make in order to do so. I revisited this chapter in the book recently, and I was reminded how important it is to attend to the life force in us. This is where everything we bring into being sparks from – this is where we begin our journey if we want to live a juicy life.

  1. Receive nurturance. Don’t deflect sincere compliments about your creative life. Practice to simply say “thank you” rather than “oh, this is nothing…
  2. Respond. Respond to everything what is going on around you, choose from vast possibilities of different thoughts, feelings and actions available to you. Use them to invoke curiosity, to inspire, to respond with a unique message. Stop supressing or censoring your feelings – stop saying to yourself “I shouldn’t be feeling this way”.
  3. Be wild. Don’t put yourself in a box, loosen the constrictions of your inner life, don’t be afraid to look stupid and don’t take yourself too seriously. “To create one must be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth”.
  4. Begin. Doesn’t matter how afraid you are to fail, just begin. Begin reclaiming that creative force. There is no other way to do it other than getting your hands on that project you were dreaming of, taking a paint brush and start painting, completing that book you have been writing on and off for years…
  5. Protect your time. Dedicate time for your creative work – for that idea, that message, that beauty you want to bring into life, and be vigilant about it. Don’t let distractions get in your way. Treat this time like the most important meeting, because that’s what it is.
  6. Stay with it. Stay through the blocks, through the moments of wanting to give up, through self-doubt, through failure. Do it over and over again until you achieve the mastery.
  7. Protect your creative life. Don’t allow anything or anybody (including yourself) to diminish the importance and the sacredness of your creative work.
  8. Craft your real work. Give your all to it. In that dedicated time and space give your full presence, love and energy to your creative work.
  9. Lay out the nourishment for the creative life. The author lists four key food groups for nourishing your creative life: time (dedicate and allow time), belonging (feel and reaffirm the affinity with what you do), passion (be passionate about your craft), and sovereignty (use the power and authority you hold over this process to bring your creation into life/into being).

I invite you to awaken your creativity and start living a juicy life.

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