Self improvement: Turn Down the RheostatWritten by Susan Dunn, MA Psychology, Emotional Intelligence Coach
I woke up one morning with a terrible sore throat that got worse as day went on, instead of better, as I had hoped. By time I realized it was a true case of laryngitis, and all I could do was croak, it was too late to cancel Cub Scouts who were due at my house right after school. I wondered how I would manage when I could only whisper, and then I discovered miracle. Those squirming, busy, full-of-energy exuberant 8-year-olds hung on every word I said when it was whispered.
Instead of having usual management problems I did when I raised my voice with commands or laments, things went very smoothly. My voice must’ve sounded very soothing to them. Also they had to quiet down in order to hear me. After all, they didn’t want to miss their brownies and milk!
It was a real lesson to me that my loud voice and strident tones were cause of more friction than I was aware of.
I also noticed at work when I had a cold and my ears were stopped up that I had a better disposition. The loud and strident tones of others weren’t affecting me way they usually did. The buzzing and clanking of machines, shouts of others, ringing phones all were muffled and seemed far away. I didn’t notice every little thing that went on and it was easier to concentrate. Not that I’d want stopped-up ears all time, but what a gift upon occasion. It made for a much quieter world, and this affected my disposition.
If you’re highly sensitive and experience internal as well as external stress, or if you’re experiencing a lot of external stress, you need to slow it down and, as they say, “stop madness”.
Put up a Plexiglas shield between you and stimuli from outer world. Don’t hear as much, and don’t talk as loudly yourself. In fact cut down on amount of talking you do, as well. Calm things down and you’ll calm yourself down. Manage external stimulation that’s coming your way, and you’ll feel less stressed.
I was reminded of this when reading an email from someone on one of lists I belong to. She was talking about how her perfectionism got in way of her housecleaning, and that when she started getting that way, she took off her eye glasses to do her cleaning and then everything was fine.
It’s sometimes a relief to hear and see less, yes? And you can also apply this to forgiveness, and what you remember. I have a friend who’s well into her 80’s whose memory is a bit less than it used to be, she tells me. She tells me, “I’m a much nicer person now than I used to be. I no longer remember every single thing someone tells me, every slight, every negative comment. I’m much more forgiving.” I think she has a point.
How to Replace Bad Habits with Good Ones: The Science of “Habit Management”Written by Dr. Stephen Kraus, Success Scientist
Few things are more difficult than kicking bad habits or developing more positive ones. But it is definitely worth effort. Bad habits like smoking, overeating or self-criticism shorten lives and lead to underachievement, and unsuccessful attempts to change them lower self-esteem.
In contrast, good habits create a kind of “success auto-pilot,” leading to greater accomplishment with less thought and less effort.
So how do you best eliminate bad habits and create good ones? Research from new field of “positive psychology” – scientific study of happy, successful people – points to at least four proven techniques for successful habit management.
1. Replace a bad habit with a good one. Completely eliminating a habit is much harder than replacing it with a more productive habit. Studies of people who compulsively bite their fingernails have shown that it is very difficult for them to completely give up their habit, and much easier for them to substitute biting with more productive habit of grooming their nails.
Similarly, people who talk too much during meetings struggle to become silent, but find it much easier to replace their compulsive talking with highly attentive listening.
2. Exercise. A habit of regular exercise is obviously important for lasting weight loss. But you may not realize that exercise helps in accomplishing a variety of goals, and in eliminating a number of bad habits.
Frequent exercise helps break habits of overeating, and in kicking all kinds of addictions, particularly if exercise is substituted for an end-of-the-day cocktail or cigarette. Among smokers who become competitive runners, for example, over 80% give up smoking.