Back to Basics

I always find myself drifting off into the current situation, whatever that may be. Sometimes there are exciting, new things happening in my life (mostly starting a new semester, and yes, to me that is exciting). Other times, I find that I am unhappy and obsessed with a thought or an idea that is not bringing anything positive in my life, and it makes things worse for me on a daily basis. Why do we get so caught up in the present moment and forget all about the past and future? Now I know that many many many sources advise people to do this, “live in the present, forget the past, don’t worry about the future”. But is this healthy?

I often find myself glancing down at whatever paper I am writing at that time, and sometimes I wonder if it was me writing it. Why? Because it doesn’t sound like me. It’s as if an automatic pilot wrote this paper in the absence of my consciousness. I often don’t even care to proofread, because I know that at the time of writing it, I did it to the best of my abilities. Or maybe I just don’t want to proofread it, because it becomes boring. How is this possible? How can something that I wrote and had a keen interest one, can become boring?

I believe the answer is because my mind is already on another project, on another paper, or plan of whatever, wherever, whenever. Just not in the present tense, because the present (now) was already a future for something else. The problem is that we get so caught up in doing something, that we forget why we do it, and most importantly, how much we enjoy it. By always trying to move on to the next task, the next plan, the next to-do list, we forget to enjoy the moment and take it back to basics.

Back to basics simply means “what was the initial motivation for doing this task/to-do list/whatever-else-you-planned-on-doing”? That is the question. I remember working in a group project and we had a girl who was a true team leader in every way, and she guided us through like a champ. While the 3 of us would get all riled up over small details and planning things that turned out not to matter in the end, she always said this “Guys, let’s take it back to basics”. In marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and instead of identifying one need for a company, you end up identifying six. In personal life, we often do the same thing. In our fitness goals, the same thing. We get so caught up in the small details along the way, that we forget the real motive why we started on whatever journey we started on.

So next time you start a new exercise program, get a new job, start a project, sign up for a marathon, take a cooking class, etc., remember the basic reason why you started it. If it is a personal goal, most likely you started it because you wanted to achieve more and challenge yourself. So remember those reasons, because they will come in handy when you get yourself caught up in the moment once again.

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Using “Pause” Words

The world that we live in is constantly changing and we often get distracted by one thing or another, and disregard our verbal intonation or verbal…language. Why do people use words such as “like” and “um”? Do we REALLY need them in our vocabulary, or can we replace them with a good ol’ pause, while we think to construct an answer? Is it necessary to use words such as “um” in our communication?

As I was listening on a talk show on my favourite radio station, I couldn’t help but notice the interviewee kept pausing after every 2 words, his favourite word being “um”. This person, who is middle aged and has higher level education, holds an important position in the company and was interviewed by one of the top 3 radio stations in Canada. I was baffled as I kept hearing “umm” before every answer he gave.

According to the dictionary, this is actually a word, representing an “exclamation – expressing hesitation or a pause in speech”. But how healthy is this in daily verbal communication? Wouldn’t it be enough for us to use body language to communicate that we are holding a pause before giving an answer? Whenever I have conversations with people who use “um” constantly, I always wonder WHY this happens and HOW can we stop it?

Another word that I find people tend to use is “like”, and not in means of comparison, but rather a pause while thinking for an answer. I recently watched a YouTube video in which the girl that was speaking used the word “like” after every 3-4 words or so. There was no rational reasoning for using this word, and yet…she kept doing it. This is not the first time I heard this word over and over again in conversations (and even presentations) and sadly, it was people whom I would have expected more from.

I am not a communications expert, but I always enjoyed learning English and have been bilingual since I was 5. In my maternal language I don’t remember using such “filler” words in our communication. Growing up, a lot of communication with my peers was done non-verbally by using body language. Having spent the last 11 years in Canada, has opened up my eyes about human differences (that unfortunately for people who only live in one country, might be impossible to recognize). It seems to me that in North America people tend to use words such as “like” and “um” while pausing to think for an answer. Why is that? The question still remains, but here are some tips I find useful when trying to correct myself from communication errors.

1. “Think about what you’re thinking about right now”, author unknown. This is an expression that stayed with me for years, although I cannot remember exactly where I heard it first. To me, this basically says “be aware of your thoughts at all times”. When you are talking to someone, be aware of that conversation and follow the string of ideas. So if you are at an interview, be all there in mind, body and spirit.

2. Take your time answering questions. If you are asked a question that you are not sure how to answer, take your time. Ideally, you would already know any important interview questions well before the interview, but if that doesn’t happen, you can still have a successful interview. If you start a sentence and realize you cannot find your words, instead of starting to “ummm”, try to end your sentence in a coherent way, and then take a 5-6 second pause to form another idea.

3. Always be aware of your intonation and pitch when verbally communicating with someone. This can also be referred to as loudness or voice control. When you are aware of loudness (which can be easily noticed), you tend to be more aware of the things you say as well.

3 Ways You Can Squeeze a Stretching Routine in Your Busy Day

3 Ways You Can Squeeze a Stretching Routine in Your Busy Day

We all have a lot of things to do every day and sometimes we just don’t have time to attend to everything we want to achieve. What we are unaware of is that we have extra time that we do not use and it simply goes to waste. Even if you don’t have a rigorous exercise in the morning, stretching is just as helpful for your body. It helps relax the muscles and releases the tension. The 5 ways to squeeze a workout are:

1.Stretch minutes right when you wake up. If you find that you don’t have the energy to do it, have your morning coffee and do it right after. If you usually wake up at 7:30am, try to sleep 20 minutes earlier the night before and wake up at 7:10am. It will set your metabolism for the day and you will have more energy. In a few days, your body will adjust to the sleeping and waking up schedule and you start reaping the benefits. Make sure you warm up your limbs for 5-8 minutes before, to avoid injuries; you can do 5 lunges on each leg, or simply stretch up, palms touch and lean over to the right and then the left. And remember, it takes at least 3 weeks to get into a new habit, so you have to keep at it.

2.Stretch right before you eat dinner at home. I stretch at this time, because it gets me excited for dinner. If I delay my dinner for 20 minutes, I am eager to finish stretching, thus I push harder and stretch even more. You don’t have to do anything elaborate, just simply take 10-15 minutes to yourself and stretch.

3.On your break at work. As weird as it sounds, you should stretch at work. While you’re resting at your computer, your muscles are contracting and you’re putting a lot of tension in your lower back and shoulders. Stretching will make you feel more energized and help you relax your muscles as well. You can fold forward in your chair or just simply stretch up. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it while at your desk, stretch in the bathroom or change room.