Will this contribute to my happiness?

adminblog, General0 Comments

Will this contribute to my happiness?

Whenever I am choosing what movie to watch, what activity to do or what kind of conversation I am about to have with someone, I try to ask myself this question: If I go ahead with this, will this contribute to my happiness? It’s a very simple question, but if asked candidly to yourself, it can reveal a lot of insight. We can see our mind as a big garden with all kinds of seeds. Seeds of fear, insecurity, stress, anger, despair, joy, gratitude, happiness, love, mindfulness and many other seeds. As human beings we all get the same set of seeds, but it’s up to us how we take care of our garden. If we watch a horror movie, we might water the seed of fear. If we punish ourselves or somebody else, we might water the seed of anger. If we have a mindful cup of tea, we water the seed of mindfulness. Every thought, word or action will have an impact on the state of our garden. For some of us, the seeds of anger and resentment have been well watered throughout our lives. The same accounts for stress and anxiety. These seeds then become well-established and strong plants. Other seeds, such as gratitude and joy, might still be seeds waiting to be watered. Everything we do, affects the state of our garden. We can’t change our garden overnight from a dry and deprived place to a blooming flower garden. It takes time and practice. That’s why diligent practice is so crucial in mindfulness, especially if we want to have real effects on the neurobiology of our brain. I first learned to ask myself this happiness question in 2005 during my first meditation retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh. That year, I took on an intention to practice his five mindfulness trainings. These beautifully formulated invitations to apply mindfulness in everyday life have changed dramatically how I relate to work, family, friends, my emotions, and myself. The common thread in all of them seems to be the correlation with happiness. After 12 years of experimenting with these trainings, it became clear that when I do more of any of these, I feel happier. I am not referring to the superficial, pleasure-focused happiness, but the deeper level of happiness, understanding and peace of mind. So I decided long ago that my compass should be set for happiness. And these trainings would be my partners-in-crime. However, this turned out to not be easy. Most of the time my compass is still set for other well-conditioned directions in my brain. This includes a sense of duty, obligation, fear, avoiding insecurity and financial insecurity and other tendencies in my negativity bias. Or the compass is set for the directions that the media and environment determine for me, which can be summarized by: I need to have more, be more and buy more. So we need help if we’re serious about this practice. I learned that my triple C is my biggest source of support here: courage, commitment and community. 1. Courage to go against the stream, against the messages of the media and choose a higher path. Courage is also a seed in our garden and I am consciously nurturing my courage through meditation, yoga, climbing and regularly watching and listening to teachers that give me a sense of courage on the path. 2. Commitment for me is all about creating the right conditions to make my practice of happiness more systematic. This includes reminders, rituals and candid end-of-day or week assessments of my practice of happiness. I am committed to make every year of my life a bit happier than the former one. 3. Last, but not least, community. Thich Nhat Hanh emphasized this a lot as do many other teachers for a reason. Even with courage and commitment, if we’re on our own, we’ll drift off at some stage. The community is not just to support our practice, but also an inherent part of our practice by giving us the opportunity to relate to others from an intention of mindfulness. My family, work, yoga, meditation and dance communities all help me to keep my compass being set towards happiness. I invite you to ask yourself: In my everyday life choices, what is my compass set towards? And is that actually working out for me and others around me? If yes, keep going! If not, set up an experiment and set your compass for the next week towards something else that has real importance to you. It doesn’t need to be happiness. It can be freedom or peace or another value that is important to you right now. Good luck and enjoy the practice! Mindful regards, Gaston Gaston is co-founder of the TeamUp Triad Coaching Program, a 9-week mindful coaching program which helps you be better at the stuff that really matters. Check out our new website! www.individuals.teamup.co

How much knowledge do we need (to coach well)?

adminblog, General0 Comments

How much knowledge do we need (to coach well)?

This photo made me smile. Sometimes I meet people with a wall full of certificates. It makes me wonder: How many certificates, knowledge and validation do we need to do something well and feel good about what we are doing? And do certificates actually matter to others? Earlier this year, I joined parts of the World Business Executive Coaching Summit (WBECS). It’s a great online event for Executive Coaches with some of the best executive coaches sharing their insight, tips and techniques. It is impressive what that team has put together over the last years. After most of the webinars and slideshows, my eager-to-learn mind always felt nurtured and excited. Yet, I realized that my body was in a contracted place some of the time. I didn’t understand why at first, but after some introspection I realized what it was. It has to do with a feeling that I don’t know enough yet as a coach or actually as a human being. Somehow all these slideshows, models and terminology let me believe that I might not be good enough yet and that I need to accumulate more knowledge and ‘add to me’. I notice I then go into a contracted state where I forcefully try to remember models, acronyms, bullet points and other content so I can reproduce them later. It’s like I am back at high school trying to remember to reproduce. I’ve learned that great coaching does not come from that place. I think many of us deal with the belief at times that we need more knowledge or insight in order to start practicing something. This idea of us lacking something is well played into by dozens of clever online programs out there that bombard us with some kind of variation of ‘you should know more’. This contracted feeling of needing more knowledge out of a place of lack is the exact opposite feeling I have when I leave a meditation retreat. In those moments, I realize that all the wisdom that I need is already inside. I just need to practice diligently myself, understand my own mind better and then create the right conditions for any wisdom to arise when I am with my clients. Practice is much more important to enable that than constantly adding new knowledge. In short: I need to trust in my intuition and insights I already gathered over the last decades. This doesn’t mean that we should stop learning or even getting certified in certain ways or forms. I have done several coach trainings and probably still read about 2-3 books per month on the area of leadership, personal development and mindfulness. However, I realized that the attitude towards that learning should not be from a place of lack or a need to validate myself or feel better about myself or prove myself. It should come from a place of curiosity to listen to things that resonate with an innate wisdom that I know is already true from my own experience. It it not an addictive hunger for more or to fill in a gap, but an invitation to explore and enrich. And after I sponged up new material, I purposefully aim to let it go at the end. I try not to hold on to it. I take a few deep breaths and go back to my own solidity and trust. I don’t try to remember as much as I can. I know it got stored somewhere in my subconscious mind and trust it will arise in the right moment when I am with clients or my Triad groups. Mindfulness can help us enjoy learning much more. It helps me be at ease when I don’t read books, keep track of the news or watch the latest TED talk. It helps me to review instead my inner TED talks and observations of how my mind and emotions work. Many times, these reveal more insight than a library of books. You might wonder: But don’t clients care about certificates and diplomas? Actually research shows that coaching clients care very little about certificates or coaching approaches. It’s one of the very last considerations, also in my own experience. Generally, they only want to know one thing: Can you help me? I am curious to hear your thoughts on his: How do you relate to gathering new knowledge and ideas around the job that you’re doing? How do you combine it with your inner wisdom that is already present? Mindful regards, Gaston Gaston is co-founder of the TeamUp Triad Coaching Program, a 9-week mindful coaching program which helps you be better at the stuff that really matters. Check out our new website! www.individuals.teamup.co