• Your Unexpected Best Teachers

    Since she was a young girl, the freshman dreamed of becoming a writer. She eagerly signed up for an introductory English literature class, and felt her successful future was assured with the guidance of this particular instructor. Early in the semester, however, that enthusiastic anticipation changed gears.

    “The professor was downright cruel,” she recalls. “He ridiculed students for their physical appearance, even singling out those who suffered from acne or physical handicaps. When he acknowledged a student who obviously had financial challenges, he called her, ‘The girl with the ratty sweater.’ His class was torture.”

    But instead of squashing the aspiring writer’s dreams, the bad professor‘s uncouth and inappropriate demeanor had the opposite effect. The young woman vowed that with or without his support, she was going to follow her passion. Now, decades later, the woman is a published author, and has traveled the world as a literary agent for other writers, including such luminaries as John Grisham and Ann Rice.

    It frequently happens that the most challenging people and issues in our life can turn out to be our most effective and transformational teachers.

    When everything is going smoothly, it’s too easy to fall into a comfortable rut. We can pretty much put our life on autopilot, and mindlessly just tick off the days. There’s even scientific evidence of this – repetitive thoughts and actions actually create little grooves in our brain so we’re less likely to deviate from what’s become the ‘norm.’ Our ability to create, innovate and even learn new things is compromised.

    It’s when things start to get tough that our brains “light up” again. We’re forced to think and act outside those groves, charting new neural pathways and creating new thoughts that bring us back into balance with our true self, our values, and our spiritual path.

    In his ground-breaking book, The Biology of Belief , cellular biologist Bruce Lipton, PhD, shares how his research showed when our environment changes, through something like the loss of a job, or falling in love, we actually begin to change our brain. We’re forced to go outside of our comfort zone, and start to see our world differently. We create new solutions, more effective processes, or deeper relationships.

    Possibilities and opportunities we might never have imagined present themselves, and from our new perspective of shifting old beliefs, we can empower ourselves beyond our wildest dreams. All we need to do is embrace challenges as they appear, and realize anything and everything can teach us the critical lessons we most need to learn.

    Learn healthy new ways to nurture your body, mind and spirit at Optimum Health Institute (OHI) missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. In a supportive “safe space” of encouragement and community, our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Trial By Fire

    It was like any beautiful morning in Hawaii in 2003 when the two young teens paddled their surfboards into the waves off the shore of Kauai. Neither girl noticed the dark shadow in the water swimming towards them until the shark latched on to 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton’s left arm, severing it just below the shoulder. Friends quickly helped the girl to shore and wrapped a surfboard leash tourniquet around the remaining stump for the race to the hospital.

    Just three weeks later, the young surfer was back on her board. She resumed competitive surfing, and won her first national title the next year.

    While many people might have given up in the face of such a painful challenge, Bethany turned what could have been a career-ending tragedy into a powerful opportunity. The way she responded and continues to achieve is a model for how to triumph over a trial by fire.

    The first thing she credits for her perseverance in the face of adversity is her deep faith in God and Christ. Having a strong spiritual belief that there is a benevolent divine power guiding and protecting us is key for navigating a crisis.

    Secondly, Bethany felt she had a responsibility to continue to be a mentor and positive example. She was already a role model for other young surfers, particularly girls, before the accident. She realized that by pushing herself to continue to heal and excel, she was simultaneously encouraging countless others to rise above their own challenges. She created a foundation, Friends of Bethany, to assist and spiritually inspire other amputees and young people. Feeling that your life has meaning and purpose is a powerful driver for overcoming obstacles.

    A third important factor in navigating challenging times is breaking the problem down into manageable goals. Facing the entirety of a tough situation could easily prove overwhelming. Focusing in on just one part, and then celebrating the completion of it, is an effective way to stay motivated and make steady progress. First healing the wound, getting familiar with her new core of gravity, then making slight modifications to her surfboard to accommodate her changed body were the steps that led Bethany directly and confidently to once again master the waves.

    Ironically, serious setbacks frequently have a very positive outcome. When a person experiences catastrophic situations, from the death of a loved one to the loss of all material wealth to devastating physical impairment, more often than not, they will reinvent themselves and come back from the tragedy even stronger, more resourceful and happier. Psychologists have coined the phrase, “Post Traumatic Growth” to describe the phenomenon. This resiliency is not limited by a person’s age, gender, wealth or any other factor. Pressure can truly bring out the best in people.

    Discover how resilient your body, mind and spirit can be. At Optimum Health Institute (OHI) missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas, our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Why Being ‘People Smart’ Matters

    When Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger get together, which one will take over? How we process our emotions and relate to others is engagingly acted out in Pixar’s blockbuster animated film, “Inside Out.”

    The protagonist, 11-year-old Riley, is trying to adjust to her family’s move from Minnesota to San Francisco. She endures the full gamut of emotions as the five different aspects of her feelings take turns at the “control panel” of her brain.

    Her new room is tiny, and the moving van with all the family’s belongings gets sidetracked and won’t arrive for days. She misses her old friends, and her self-confidence skids out of reach in the hockey rink. Her sense of humor, her connection to her family, even her values of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ become hopelessly tangled, leaving her feeling isolated, angry and frightened.

    While she struggles to gain the Emotional Intelligence quotient (EQ) needed to cope with the mushrooming challenges she faces, her loving parents likewise need to amp up their own EQ skills along the way, for Riley’s sake, and their own.

    It is only when a near tragedy strikes that the three of them can connect effectively on all cylinders, and begin to recognize, respect and honor each other’s true feelings. This interplay is the essence of Emotional Intelligence.

    In 1995, psychologist Daniel Goleman introduced the key role our emotions play in our lives in his groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence . His research revealed that while technical skills and IQ are important, it was a leader’s ability to be self-aware, and proficient at building rapport, that was twice as important for success and happiness in all aspects of our lives.

    He broke Emotional Intelligence down into five components:

    1. Self-Awareness: Recognizing your own moods and emotions, and their impact on others.
    2. Self-Regulation: Being able to think before acting, and controlling your moods.
    3. Motivation: The persistence to pursue important goals.
    4. Empathy: Understanding others’ emotions and treating them with compassion.
    5. Social Skill: Establishing rapport and building relationships

    The good news is, these attributes can be taught to people lacking in any or all of these areas. “Maturity” is equated with Emotional Intelligence – just accumulating more life experiences is a great way to develop self-awareness and compassion for others. Also, motivation, practice and feedback will boost your EQ, empowering you to make wise decisions while working well with others.

    Keep in mind, too, that tuning into non-verbal communication, your own and those with whom you interact, is essential for honing your Emotional Intelligence. As much as 93% of what is exchanged is done through non-verbal cues. Crossed arms and lack of eye contact, for instance, indicate an inability or lack of desire to connect.

    Face the person to whom you’re talking. Pointing your body away from them indicates you don’t like or respect them. A jutting chin is a danger sign – the person is angry, or they don’t like the person with whom they’re communicating. Tensions are running high.

    Get in touch with your Emotional Intelligence in the nurturing space of the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Developing Discernment

    It was a bitterly cold January morning, and the Washington D.C. metro was crowded with commuters scurrying to catch their trains. Street musicians are frequently ignored, and so it was with a man playing a violin in the adjoining L’Enfant Plaza for 45 minutes while just over a thousand people rushed by him.

    Strains of Bach, Massenet, Schubert and Ponce reverberated through the arcade. Occasionally people would pause briefly to listen, then be on their way. A few people tossed coins or bills. It wasn’t until nearly the end of his impromptu solo performance that a passerby recognized world-renowned musical genius Joshua Bell, who was playing on his $3.5 million violin.

    Just days before, Bell performed at a sold out Boston concert at $100 per ticket. His metro performance netted him $32.

    The lack of discernment of the scores of people rushing past the famous musician is evidence of our frequent inability to “go deep” in our day-to-day activities.

    Discernment is considered a spiritual virtue, and the mark of a wise and compassionate person of sound judgment. It is the ability to look past what’s not immediately evident – to distinguish what’s unique or true from that which is superficial.

    If you’re a good judge of character; if you feel a duty to help people see right from wrong and if you are usually correct when you feel something is amiss, you have discernment.

    “Discernment” is not “judgment.” Judgment comes from the Greek word for “condemn.” When you judge someone, you make decisions about their general worthiness.

    Discernment, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word “to separate,” or to see the truth from the fabrication. It is to see people, and things, as they actually are.

    Here are some tips to help you develop your ability to discern:

    1. Never stop learning . When a bank is teaching tellers how to detect counterfeit dollar bills, the tellers must study real bills, and become familiar with every last detail. The more you learn, the less likely you’ll be deceived.
    2. Pray . Ask for divine guidance in developing and trusting your spiritual gift of discernment.
    3. Meditate . When you quiet the chatter of your mind, you’ll be more able to hear your divine inner voice.
    4. Trust . Remember compassion is always appropriate, but trust is earned. Be kind, but be slow to believe in someone or something. Give yourself time to “go deep” into the heart of it before you entrust it with your complete confidence.

    Discernment is necessary for making decisions, and you’re making thousands of decisions daily. One of the smartest decisions you can make is to take optimum care of your body, mind and spirit. At Optimum Health Institute (OHI) missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas, our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.