Moticise Blog | Sonia Satra

5 Lessons from Kilimanjaro (#3 will surprise you)

For 25 years now, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list. And finally, a couple weeks ago, I did it.

And along the way, with my two sisters, our guide Robert, assistant guide, cook, and twelve porters from Kandoo Adventures (yes, 12), I learned a thing or two about what it takes to climb Kilimanjaro.

Here they are:

  1. Go slow. “Polepole” – that means “slow” in Swahili, and that was our rallying cry. And we meant it. We might’ve been the slowest hikers there, being passed left and right, but I didn’t care. I’m told that slower you go, the better your chance of success, because you have more time to acclimate to the altitude.

Slow, small steps will get you to the top. (The tortoise and the hair, right?) As long as you’re moving forward, you’ll get where you’re going.

And after the first few bathroom stops, where Karin and Isabel and I would stand around chatting, our guide said, “You need to take shorter breaks. This is taking you longer not because we’re moving slowly, but because your breaks are too long.”

Lesson #1: Go slow, but don’t stop.

2. Everything will pass. The saying “This too shall pass” took on a whole new meaning up there. You have a headache? It’ll pass. You have to throw up? It’ll pass. Your feet are freezing? Every sensation, no matter how uncomfortable, is temporary. It rained a few times, and Robert shrugged and said “We’ll be dry later.” No matter what happened, if you just waited it out, either the circumstances or your feelings about them would change.

Lesson #2: Don’t get too attached to what’s happening. It’ll pass.

3. Passion will prevail. On the sixth day, Robert came into our tent to give us a briefing.

We’d barely touched our dinners, and he knew it. “You’re too nervous,” he said. “You just have to relax. Passion is what will get you to the summit. You’ve already come 70%. Now we have the last 30% to go. Your mind is what will make the difference. If you believe it, and have fun with it, it will work. And if you don’t, then that will stop you.”

There was a lot of time for thinking while we hiked, which means there was a lot of time for self-doubt to creep in. So I used the Mindset Reset process constantly. What do I have? What do I need to believe to make this happen? I used affirmations, especially on Summit Day – literally for nine hours, I repeated “I am healthy, I am strong, I can endure,” remembering those studies about how repeated self-talk is proven to help athletes go further.  That positivity helped keep my confidence – and my passion – alive.

Lesson #3: At the end of the day, your passion will drive you to your destination.

4. Break it down into milestones. This one really saved me on the last leg, because it was so steep. It was a nine-hour hike that night, so I broke it down by time. At 1am, I just needed to make it to 2am. Then just till 4. The sun was supposed to come out at 6am (it didn’t, but it was enough to get me there). Then 7am, and by then we reached that first sign. From there, I could see the final sign in the distance, and that was all I needed to go those last few hundred yards. We’d done it.

Lesson #4: Everything can be broken into smaller steps. And you are always capable of small steps.

5. Look back at your success. Looking at the trail ahead, winding up this enormous mountain? Yeah, that was pretty daunting. So I often looked back to our basecamp, and it would look so miniscule it was hard to believe. Every time, that made me realize, “Wow, I’ve come so far already. I can keep going.” It was empowering to see how far we’d come – even while going polepole.

#5: Draw strength from your past.

There they are: the five truths that Mount Kilimanjaro taught me. It’s amazing how simple they really are. But simple steps, taken over and over again, will get you to the most mind-blowing heights.

Whatever mountain you’re climbing – in business, or in relationships, or a personal challenge – just keep putting one foot in front of the other, as slowly as you need to. Look for that next milestone. Remember that everything you’re struggling with will pass. And let passion be your guide.

Go out and shine.

By |November 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

That Time My Plane Almost Crashed..

Back when I was on One Life to Live, I flew back and forth from NY to LA every week. (I know, it was a little insane.) I flew so often that I didn’t even tell my family and friends I was traveling. But one time, when I was coming into New York on the red eye, I learned a valuable lesson about complacency.

It started off fine. I was psyched because I had three seats, so I was all spread out, ready to cozy up and actually get some sleep. About three hours in, though, the plane began to shake. I jerked awake, and out the window I could see these flashing lights. Sirens blared and then stopped, but the silence was ominous. Everybody was looking around, wide-eyed, gripping their armrests or their rosaries or their lovers’ hands. 

“Oh my god, the plane’s on fire,” cried someone from across the aisle. Some people started crying; most just looked around terrified, helpless, while the plane jolted along, one of its wings on fire.

After an eternity, a flight attendant made her way down the aisle, acting surprisingly casual. “We had an engine failure,” she said, “but we’ve rerouted it, and should be okay from here on out.”

I didn’t sleep the rest of the flight. Instead, I looked out the window, and every city that passed below, I thought Why don’t we land there? What about there? That looks safe…all those safe people on the ground… I had a lot of time to think, and some things that went through my head were, Is this really my time to go? I had a lot of psychic friends, and I wondered (as I now remember with a laugh), How come nobody told me this is how it ends?

When we finally landed in NYC, the pilot said “I apologize…in my thirty years of flying, I’ve never had that happen. For those of you who saw the little bit of fire, I’m very sorry. We have multiple engines, so we were able to fly the rest of the way without the one that failed.”

When we deplaned, I wanted to collapse and kiss the ground. Instead, I went straight to the nearest pay phone and called my mom. She hadn’t even known I was flying that night, so you can imagine her surprise when I started babbling about how I loved her and missed her.

It was one of those extreme moments that makes you think, why do we wait for something alarming to happen, before we really appreciate life?

That night, I felt absolutely grateful for everything in my life. My friends, my family, my job – I just wanted to call everyone and tell them I love them. Everything, big and small, felt like such a gift.

And I did go around telling people that, for a while. But then life took over again, and sadly, I fell away from that epic appreciation of everything. So sometimes I think of that story, and I remember the intensity of that feeling. Sometimes the intensity comes back a little; other times I have to pull it in, step into that gratitude.

What if we went every day, seeing everything and everyone as a gift?

Who would you call just to say I love you?

What would you do?

Go out and shine.

 

By |October 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Mask Are You Wearing?

The other day, my kids and I were looking through old Halloween costumes, trying to find some inspiration for this year. We tried on old dresses, old hats, old masks. And it reminded me of a time when I put on a mask, and learned something about who I was.

In grade school, I was always the good girl. I got straight A’s, I was involved in different clubs, I never spoke out of turn. Teachers always put the “trouble” kids next to me, because I was so quiet and rule-abiding, in the hopes that they would adapt to me (not the other way around).

In eighth grade, as Halloween approached, I came up with a pretty crazy (for me) idea: I was going to be a biker chick. You know, a bad girl.
I borrowed clothes from friends. Spandex, leather jacket, high heels, flashy make-up (a friend came over early that day to apply it, since I had no idea how). And I’ll never forget that moment, Halloween morning, when I walked in. Like in slow-motion, everyone turned, their mouths hanging open. “Oh my god.” “Is that Sonia?” 

At least, that’s how I remember it.

I wasn’t the quiet good kid anymore. I was a totally new person for a day. Heads turned, and I liked it. Today I joke that that day was a turning point for me, where I realized that I wanted to be bold, and daring, and seen.

Honestly, that probably led to my love of acting, even if that didn’t manifest for years to come. It wasn’t until college that I really decided to focus on it, but I think there are moments in our past where our true passions come out of hiding. I tried on a new mask, and it turned out to be a part of me that I didn’t know existed.

What about you? What mask do you want to put on? If you could step into a different facet of yourself, what would that look like? Who would you be?

Or maybe the inverse applies more to you. Is there a mask you’re wearing now, that you want to take off? What does the real you look like?

If you could step into a different part of yourself for Halloween, what would it be?

Go out and shine.

By |October 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Beat Performance Anxiety 

For years, I’ve wanted to climb Kilimanjaro.

I love hiking. I grew up doing it with my mom and sisters. Isabel and I climbed Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in the continental US, and my mom and I climbed Mount Washington, which is the highest on the eastern seaboard. She and I also climbed the two highest mountains in Norway. Basically, if there’s a peak, I want to climb it.

But I’ve never done any of the really big ones. So this year, for my birthday, I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Stephen said I could go, as long as he didn’t have to. So I rallied my sisters, one of whom has always wanted to do it, and one of whom is reluctant (although optimistic – she was the first person to buy boots and a backpack).

As I began preparing, reading books, studying the trails – we’re going to do the longest one – I started to get scared. I was learning that the trail isn’t what gets people, but the altitude. I started to worry. What if I can’t make it? What if the altitude is too much for me?

Mt Whitney was high, at 15,000 feet, and most of the time, I was fine. But it was chilly, and at around 12,000 feet, I started jumping up and down, trying to warm up, and within thirty seconds I was flat on my back, passed out.

One night a few weeks ago, I told Stephen how nervous I was. “I’m so excited to do this,” I said, “but if I don’t make it to the top, I’m going to be so crushed.”

And he turned to me and said, “Why? If you don’t make it, you just do it again another time.”

It was so simple, yet so true. It hadn’t even occurred to me – it’s not like it’s easy to get to Tanzania. But if I wanted to, I could take a second shot at it. Or third, or fourth.

And isn’t that true about everything outside our comfort zone? We can always do it again if it doesn’t work out. You fall, you get back up. You try again.

That simple comment opened up a door for me. It felt like light and fresh air flooding in to a cramped, dinghy room. Where before I felt daunted and afraid, now I see it differently. I can have as many chances as I need.

So I’ve got 3 week to go!!  I’m preparing. Stacking the deck in my favor. Doing everything I can to ready myself for the altitude and for the rigors of the climb. I’m visualizing. I have every intention of making it to the peak of that mountain, getting that photo of the top of the world.

And if I don’t, I’ll just try it again. Until I make it.

What about you? What’s something that scares you, that you really, really want?

What would happen if you thought about it differently? If you thought you couldn’t fail?

How does it feel, to know you have the freedom to try again?

So take a leap, and fly!!

By |September 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Simple Reminder You Need to Hear

I am struggling to rally some excitement around fall.

I know, that’s blasphemous. Pumpkin spice! Sweater weather! Autumn leaves! It’s such a gorgeous time, especially in New York City, and it’s so many people’s favorite time of year. But I gotta be honest – I always feel a little sad when summer’s ending.

It’s because summer is so free. We don’t go to bed on time; we sleep late. We still work, but the schedule is a free-for-all. I love warm East Coast nights, late-night walks in the park, t shirts and shorts. We take trips, we spend time together laughing and moving and just enjoying each other. Summer represents fun, easy, freedom.

Every year around now, I look ahead to fall, and I see the return to routine, strict schedules, fights around bedtime, trying not to be late. It feels rigid, stressful, like the antithesis of freedom.

But of course, I have a choice about what perspective to take. So I’ve made a conscious effort to shift my mindset away from what I’ll be losing, and toward what I’m gaining. And honestly, there’s a ton of stuff happening this fall that I’d be insane not to look forward to.

For instance, I just booked a lifelong dream trip – to climb Kilimanjaro with my two sisters. How amazing is that? And we’re relaunching my website next month, so look out for new products and events. I’ve redone my keynote, and I’m ready to go out and speak more. I’m excited about my kids’ classes – they have great teachers this year – and about going out to cheer at their baseball and volleyball games.

When I first moved to L.A., I thought I’d come to an endless summer paradise. Sunny all the time, hardly any rain, never really cold. The seasons were barely distinguishable. Perfect for me, right? But after a year of one day turning into the next, each month the same as the last, it started to feel exactly the same. I missed the slow turn of summer into fall and spring into summer.

Seasons are nature’s way of reminding us to embrace change. There’s an adventure in change, even if it’s just the leaves turning color, or a lifestyle shift. It can be unsettling, because it’s new and unknown. But that’s the beauty of life – surprise. Change. Adventure, big or small. Life is full of beginnings and endings. And while endings are often sad, I can choose to be grateful for the easygoing, free-spirited summer I had, and also ready for another season of growth and experiences.

What does this change in seasons mean for you?

What’s beginning in your life, this fall? How will you meet it?

By |September 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Change Your Beliefs in 1 Simple Step

Last week, I had the privilege of bringing Moticise to a big event here in New York. We did the Mindset Reset workout, and it went great – one of those events where you could really feel the energy in the room, especially when they got to their feet, shouted their goals out, and did some boxing affirmations (that’s my favorite part).

After the workout, one woman came up to talk to me.

“I know what I want, and what I need to do to get it,” she said, “but…” And she gave me a laundry list of reasons it wouldn’t work. “I know those are limiting beliefs,” she went on, “but I don’t have a clue how to get rid of them. How do you change your beliefs?”

Naturally, I knew exactly how she felt. Who hasn’t been there before?

Changing your beliefs is a huge part of finding success and being fulfilled. That’s why I spend so much time learning and teaching new ways to do it. I’m always practicing new tools, methods, techniques to help people (and myself) do that. But that woman’s question, asked in a crowded, busy room, made me realize something: all the techniques in the world won’t help if you don’t do one thing.

Decide.

That’s the first and most crucial step to changing your beliefs. You have to decide to do it.

When we realize that our beliefs are just that – beliefs – it gets easier to change them. We’re so used to thinking that our beliefs are reality, but they’re not. They’re just stories we tell ourselves, and quite often, we’re wrong.

I learned this in a really powerful way when I was twenty. I flew from New Jersey to France to meet my father, a man who’d left my mom, my sisters and me when I was a kid. He’d come back periodically, and there was talk of us going to live with him in Europe, but it never happened. My dad was brilliant – he held multiple PhDs and spoke a dozen languages – so I really looked up to him. Intellectually, he had himself together. But emotionally, when it came to us, he just couldn’t find it in him to connect. 

Growing up, I’d formed some beliefs: that I was responsible for him leaving. That there was something wrong with me. That he would have stayed with us if I had been different. That I would be truly happy and free when I earned his love.

For the record, my mom was the most amazing, loving parent I could have asked for. She was always there, always nurturing and challenging us, doing everything she could to create the best life possible for us. I was a mixed bag of beliefs: strong positive, strong negative, plus everything in between.

So at twenty, I’d gone to France to see him, hoping to understand this void I felt in my life. But from the moment I stepped off the plane, he found something to ridicule: my luggage, my clothes, my modeling (he thought models were airheads), my “trashy New Jersey accent” (now that was just a lie). But despite the constant criticism, I decided to stick it out. I wanted to give him a chance.

On my last day, he was supposed to pick me up from the hotel and bring me to the airport. He picked me up, all right, but drunk, and almost an hour late. So, since I missed the flight, he decided we should go to a bar instead. (This was about ten in the morning.) And as we sat in that booth, while he grew sloppier and slurrier, and even said the closest thing to “I love you” I ever got – “You know, Sonia, I think I might actually miss you when you’re gone” – I realized something.

This is the moment I’ve been waiting for all my life, from this man I’ve been intimidated by, I thought. I’ve put him on pedestal. He’s shaped my entire belief system around love and relationships…yet he’s kind of pathetic.

I didn’t mean it in a mean or angry way. It was just that he wasn’t everything I’d believed him to be. He had his own pains; his actions came out of his own beliefs and issues. It dawned on me in that moment: that what you believe is not always real.

My beliefs were built on a lie. All those things I’d held to be true were just a story I’d told myself. Now I was seeing the other side of that. And in that moment, I knew I could change my beliefs.

I am worthy of love. I am not responsible for his decisions. Nothing I could have done would change him. I could never have made him stay. His leaving is a reflection of him, not me. I am good enough. I don’t need his approval.

As painful as that trip was, I was fortunate to have witnessed something that changed my beliefs so drastically. Not everyone gets to see that. But the good news is, you don’t have to travel around the world and witness your father slobbering over a beer to have a change of heart. You can do it right this moment.

In her latest book The Universe Has Your Back, Gabrielle Bernstein says our beliefs are like a movie we’re watching. So often, we just sit and watch whatever’s on the screen. But we have the choice to get up, and change the movie. We can watch whatever movie we want.

All we have to do is decide.

So let me turn it to you. What beliefs are holding you back?

What’s something you believe that isn’t serving you?

Will you decide, right now, to change that belief?

What story will you tell yourself instead? What belief would serve you?

Take that new belief, and go out and shine.

By |August 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Power of Story

Last month, I went to Kelly Swanson’s keynote camp just outside of Asheville, NC. There were about 20 of us staying in cabins in the woods, with no WiFi or cell service – just each other, ourselves, and the time and space to work on our keynotes.

There was one man there named Dave, a speaker from ___ who had lived on a 26-foot yacht for fifteen years. During one of the practice sessions, he told us about the worst nights on the water he experienced.

A storm had hit – this was in the Caribbean – and it was tossing his boat around like a toy. He’d tied everything down and locked himself in the cockpit, and now he was just praying to get out alive.

Then something approached, something huge and loud, that passed just feet from his yacht – a cruise ship. Beneath the raging wind and waves, he heard the distinctive thump of disco music. Through his port hole, he could see people on the decks, laughing and dancing and having a grand old time, totally unaffected by the storm.

Geez, I’m in here fighting for my life, he thought, while they’re fighting for a place at the cocktail bar. They don’t even know I’m here.

By morning, the storm had passed, and Dave woke up to calm, peaceful waters. His boat was unharmed, and the cruise ship was nowhere to be seen. But that moment, that “passing like ships in the night” scene, of a floating disco that came freakishly close to him – that moment stayed with him.

What a powerful metaphor that is. We can be in a group of people, within arm’s reach of them even, and one person’s experience can be completely different from another’s. Yet both, or all, perspectives are valid. They all matter.

We all have a story. We all experience things in unique, sometimes unimaginable ways. Yet it can be so hard to remember that. How often do we write someone off, thinking “That guy’s so selfish” or “Her life is perfect; she doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle” or “Why don’t they just…?”

There’s a name for that. In psychology, the “attribution bias” is when you assume you know what’s motivating someone. For example, if another driver cuts you off in traffic, you might think “What a jerk!” instead of “Maybe he’s in a rush. I’ve cut people off before, too.” Our tendency is to think we know, and to assume the worst.

But we don’t know what’s happening in people’s lives. That’s why it’s easy to attribute the wrong motives to people. But at the end of the day, everyone wants to be heard, to feel like they matter. And we can give people that gift by listening to their stories. By trying to understand them from their perspective, not ours.

The gift isn’t only for that person. Often, we benefit enormously from hearing people’s stories, from learning what drives them. I know I did, just from hearing all the stories in Asheville last month.

It’s also important for you to have the courage to share. You might sit there thinking “My story’s not good enough, big enough, important enough,” and that might stop you from speaking up. But stories bring us closer together. They short-circuit the attribution bias, because when we hear someone’s story, it’s harder to judge them. When we connect, find common ground, find an understanding – that’s when we know that we’re not alone.

We are all good enough. All of our stories are enough. We all matter.

What about you? What’s a story or experience that you’re just dying to tell, that other people might benefit from?

And who is someone in your life who needs to be heard? How can you open up your heart to them, and listen?

Go out and shine.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. – Plato

By |August 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

De-Stress Your Life with this One Trick

This week, my good friend Karen Jacobsen, the GPS Girl, came to hang out in the Moticise studio. We had a great Twitter chat and Periscope video (you can catch it here) on her signature topic – recalculating.

“No matter where you are in life, it’s never too late to recalculate,” she said. “The first step is to notice when you’re off course.”

That got me thinking about times in my life when I’ve had to adjust my course. Most recently, it happened around food. Recalculating – realizing I needed to make a change – liberated me from a lot of self-induced stress.

I’ve long been an aspiring vegan, and in the past few years, I’d come to dread dinnertime. Trying to cook healthy, plant-based meals that everyone would like, every single night? It just reminded me how much I was failing both myself and my kids. I wanted wholesome, plant-based, delicious, fun, together time.

But in reality, it was more like a battle. I always got it started late; no two people wanted the same thing; it was never as healthy as I wanted; half the time it ended with take-out, and me exhausted and frustrated.

Fortunately, a friend recommended a vegan chef who made house calls. (Don’t you just love New York?) The plan was, he’d come over, give us a cooking lesson, and off we’d go into a lifetime of easy dinnertime sunsets. This chef, I believed, would usher in a new chapter in my life: one where I’m 100% vegan, where my family is always satisfied and impressed with their meals, where I actually look forward to dinner.  

But this chef was not the fairy godmother I hoped for. He was a big fat jerk, and it started as soon as he opened the fridge.

“Dairy milk? What is this doing here?” He rounded on me and shoved it in my face, like it was damning evidence of something unforgivable.

“I—I know it’s not great, but I like a little in my coffee,” I said. “And look, there’s almond milk and coconut milk, back there next to the soy mi—”

“Orange juice!” he cried, back inside the fridge. “And it’s not even fresh squeezed. Do you know the sugar content in this?”

“Yes,” I said weakly, “that’s why we mix it with seltzer water. I don’t usually buy it, but Kaya was having a sleepover, and—”

He shook his head derisively. “You are just lazy,” he announced, like a doctor giving a diagnosis. “All it takes is the willingness to chop vegetables. You can do that, can’t you? But you don’t.”

Shocked, I said nothing. Lazy? I thought. Is that my problem? I’m just lazy?

“She’s not lazy,” Stephen told him. It felt good to hear him say that, but the word still triggered me. For the rest of the meal, I couldn’t escape the spiral of I’m not a good mother. I’m destroying the environment. I’m killing my kids!

In the days following, I calmed down a little, and was able to gain some perspective. Our judgmental chef had offered no solutions, only criticism. He “didn’t do kids,” so he had no empathy for my role as a parent. All that was frustrating, but it led me more deeply examine my struggle. If being vegan was so important to me, how come it hadn’t happened?

I did some soul-searching, I began to understand what was happening. The chef had forced me to defend my choices, and in doing so, I noticed a pattern. And it wasn’t because I’m lazy, or not enough.

It was this: freedom, adventure, and exploration are fundamental values of mine. And I’d come to associate being vegan with being restricted. Feeling restricted is stressful and anxiety-inducing – so, for me, “vegan” equals “stress.” No wonder it’s been such a struggle. I was fighting to attain something that was making me miserable.

So I had a pretty revolutionary idea: Maybe I just don’t really want to be vegan. (This was where I started to notice that I was off-course. It was time to recalculate.)

Being 100% vegan sounds good on paper. It fits with my values of plant-based nutrition, let-food-be-thy-medicine eating, and doing my part to protect the environment. But was it really what I wanted?

In reality, I’m happy with being 90% vegan, or even 80%. Maybe I could aim for a 90-10 ratio, knowing that if I end up with 80-20, it’s still okay. Which gives me room for freedom and adventure. It takes away the restrictive feeling while still honoring my beliefs about clean eating. It changes the meaning of the word “vegan” for me – instead of inducing stress, now it feels exciting.

This is still new for me – it’s only been a couple weeks – but I already feel more free, more fluid, more excited about my choices and my responsibilities. I’m still practicing recipes and collecting ways to make everyone happy at dinnertime, but I’ve taken the heavy weight off my shoulders to make it perfect. Which leaves more room for me to enjoy my family and my food.

What about you?

What is it that you’re trying to change, but having trouble with?

Take a close look – why are you making that change?

Is it honoring your values? Or is it going against something you value?

If your values are in conflict, that’s going to make it hard. Often, that’s when it’s time to recalculate.

What’s something you can do that would align with your values? Something you’re excited about, that you can reach for wholeheartedly?

Tell me about it below! And then go out, recalculate if you need to, and shine.

By |July 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Key to Survival (it’s not what you expect!)

Last week, my family and I spent a week in London to celebrate my mom’s and sister’s birthdays. (Okay, the birthdays were more of an excuse – we just wanted to see each other and explore somewhere exciting.) The whole week, there were eight of us coordinating plans, picking out activities, trying to agree on a restaurant…and it went so smoothly. Everyone was surprisingly flexible, and it was wonderful.

I’ve been on enough group vacations to know how special that is. On other trips, whether with family, friends, or colleagues, it isn’t always so easy. So this past week, I’ve been thinking about the virtue of flexibility, and how underrated it really is.

I brought it up to Lauren in the office the other day, as I often do with things on my mind.

“How important is flexibility, do you think?” I asked her. “People don’t really talk about it that often, but it’s pretty critical, right?”

“My dad always said that flexibility is the key to survival,” she said, without missing a beat. Her father is an airline pilot who regularly flies between the U.S. and China, so I figure he knows a thing or two about getting from point A to point B.

“Wow. Really?” I said. “The key?”

“Yeah. He’s always dealing with things like turbulence, having to change the route, navigate storms, land somewhere different than he expected. Things are always popping up that he has to deal with.”

Sounds like life, I thought.  

“So if he weren’t flexible enough to take each one in stride, well, I don’t know,” she said. “He probably wouldn’t be flying planes.”

Well, that makes perfect sense, although I might have expected an airline pilot to say focus or courage was the key to survival. But the more I think about it, the more I see that flexibility might really be the secret to living well, living long, and getting where you’re going.

Naturally, as my mind tends to, I started thinking about the two aspects of flexibility: physical and lifestyle. First, to be physically flexible means you have greater range of motion, lower risk of injury, and more freedom of movement. If you’re flexible in life, you’re more adaptable, able to move more fluidly through crises or challenges, and you have more freedom to, well, move. You have a lower risk of stress, because you can roll with the punches. To paraphrase Confucius, “The reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”

The older we get, the more rigid our bodies becomes. If we don’t practice flexibility, we lose our range of motion, so we’re more limited in our pursuits – whether that’s learning to waterski, or simply going up a set of stairs. We’re more like to “snap,” or stress out, or otherwise sacrifice our well-being.

The same principle applies to lifestyle flexibility. If we let ourselves get rigid, we lose out on the opportunity to expand our minds, to experience new things, to stretch our boundaries, if you will. We lose our youthfulness.

So what does it mean to practice flexibility in life? How can we be more flexible?

In an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Alice Boyes writes that flexible thinking comes in many forms. Here are a few examples:

  • Perspective taking. This means looking at a situation from someone else’s point of view, and understanding that yours is not the only one. This one’s especially important in a conflict or argument, and it can help you reach out instead of alienate people.
  • Balancing optimism and pessimism, or weighing both the ups and downsides, instead of focusing on one of those. Flexible thinkers know that there are advantages and disadvantages to almost any outcome, and choose the most helpful piece to focus on.
  • Allowing for uncertainty. If you don’t hear back from someone, don’t assume the worst. A flexible thinker understands that there are dozens of potential reasons for this. Also, allowing for uncertainty means not marrying yourself to a particular outcome. If things don’t go the way you want them to, you can still remain open, instead of dwelling on your loss. What happens next may be a pleasant surprise.

 

 

 

Photo by: Devon Barker | Aerial Artist: Jocelynn Rudig

Physically, too, you can increase your flexibility. And don’t go telling me you don’t stretch because you’re not flexible. That’s why you stretch – to get more flexible. Start slow and go gentle. You don’t want to hurt yourself by overstretching, or by stretching without warming up first. Studies show that just a few minutes of stretching a day can significantly increase your flexibility over time – so be patient, and be consistent!

As with all mindset tools, practicing flexibility is a choice, whether or not it comes naturally to you.

What is an area of your life where you’re really good at being flexibility? How does that feel?

Flexibility is one of my favorite mind-body exercises, because it’s such a clear parallel. So while you’re answering these questions, stand up and stretch your hamstrings or your shoulders, and feel that openness in your muscles. (For some guidance on this, check out my latest Moti Minute!)

What’s an area of your life where you could use more flexibility? Where you’re pretty rigid or stubborn?

How can you stretch into that space, and allow for whatever might come?

What’s possible when you step into a place of open, flexible thinking?

By |July 12th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

3 Ways to Stay Sane When Your Life is Crazy

Do you ever have a day like this? Last week, it was like someone put my life in a blender. Every area needed some attention in the span of about eight hours (and 100 city blocks).

The dog had an ear infection when I woke up, so I rushed her to the vet. From there, I took Ty downtown to skateboard camp before running to Soho to shop with Kaya (her summer camp requires that she bring 16 different pairs of shorts…really? Really. And we had to get them all right then because her clothes were being shipped off to camp the next day.) That made me late to the office, where I had a Moticise call about web development, then a meeting about product launch.

Then I had an audition (in an English accent, no less) which I’d only rehearsed for about five seconds. Then I ran to the eastside for a vibroacoustics session at Tournesol; then back to the office for a quick coaching session; then off to meet Stephen for yoga, before going home to get everyone fed, washed, and to bed.

At Tournesol, my physical therapist, Carey, asked me how my day was going.

“It’s insane,” I said. “I have something involving everyone today, and there’s zero time in between. But they all need my full attention and focus. How do you keep each thing from bleeding into the next?”

She laughed, but she said seriously, “I know what you mean. If I couldn’t compartmentalize, I think I’d fall apart.”

Carey runs her own business, has dozens of clients a day, and has three kids. So I asked, “How do you do it?” I asked.

“I go into my office and close the door,” she said. “And I picture myself walking through a white, cleansing light. It’s like this bright, clean energy, and it washes away the last thing, and leaves me feeling fresher for the next.”

“Wow,” I said. I didn’t know what to say, but I knew I wanted what she had. A ritual. Some meaningful way to help her navigate her day. A way to not just keep her head above water, but to swim.

In the next few days, I gave it a lot of thought. Could Carey’s technique work for me? What if I’m not in my office? I wondered. On that day in particular, I’d been in and out of subways and taxis and stores and other people’s offices, so I couldn’t exactly retreat into my private sanctuary. Or could I?

There are many days where I’m traveling around the city, and sometimes New Jersey, and sometimes other cities or even countries. But I knew I could still find a way to adapt Carey’s trick to fit my needs. After all, she was using two of my favorite things: visualization, and physical movement.

I tried it one afternoon on the subway, heading home after a long day at the office. I wanted to be ready to play with my kids and make them dinner when I walked in the door. I wanted to feel energized and refreshed, not muddled and overwhelmed. I didn’t want work to bleed into my home time.

So I copied Carey, and I envisioned a bright light surrounding me. I felt my body and mind being cleansed of the day, of what happened and hadn’t happened. I invited that light in. Even with the backdrop of subway musicians and announcers and doors screeching shut, I felt peace. It was like a mini-meditation (even a mini-mindset reset, if you will). And then when I got home, I felt ready and excited to be there.

That week, I experimented with ways to compartmentalize, and I found three techniques that really work. Here they are:

  • Physically embody each task. Every task has a distinct feeling, so I decided to fully embrace that feeling. (Sounds a bit like mindfulness, right?) By stepping into each environment, each purpose, and noticing how it was showing up in my body – what did it look like? Where did I feel it? How did I carry myself? – I could really participate in each task, not rush through it, or feel distracted or overwhelmed by all the others.
  • Throw in a little exercise or movement. This one’s especially good when I’m in my office all day. I take a walk in between phone calls, do jumping jacks after a meeting, or even just stand in conscious mountain pose to help clear my mind. Then, I literally take a step into the next activity. This sends a message to both my body and brain, like “Okay, now it’s time for X. New task, new you. Let’s do this.”
  • Make a to-do list, and cross items off when you do them. I know it sounds cliché, but a to-do really does help settle your mind. You don’t have to juggle everything if it’s written down (and if you’re using it – i.e., it’s not buried in a drawer, or forgotten on your fridge). You get a little burst of accomplishment from crossing something off, so you’ll feel productive, which gives you energy. And if it’s all written down somewhere, you can let go of the worry that you’ll forget something, and fully immerse yourself in the task at hand.

Try these techniques during your busy day! And let me know what YOU do to compartmentalize.

Then go out and shine.

By |June 29th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments