Building Beautiful Minds - 3 Essential Keys, Contribution, Compassion, Clarity
In last week's Body Helix blog, I wrote about mind-coding and how humans are genetically wired to be seekers of knowledge. This craving for information brings happiness to our lives and value to the lives of our friends. I believe this algorithm can build inspiration to change the world. In this week's blog, I'd like to expand this concept and examine the following:
- COURSE CORRECTION
- THE HALCYON IMPACT
- RARE AND PRECIOUS JEWELS
- COGNITIVE ESCAPE VELOCITY
One of the bestselling books ever written is Dale Carnegie's 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Decades ago, I came across this book, which I credit with shaping and nurturing my philosophy of serving others.
At its core, Carnegie's book espouses the critical principles of successful human relationships. And unless you're a hermit, you can't live on this planet without encountering other humans.
In our modern vernacular, the title of this 86-year-old book may sound like a form of manipulation – but it couldn't be farther from it. In a world where our messages are instant and our communication capability is evolving exponentially, one may think the principles in this book are obsolete. Instead, today's significant changes make Carnegie's principles more relevant than ever.
How to Win Friends and Influence People has provided generations with the ability to change how they view the world around them. Carnegie explains that every interaction, from your first good morning to your last goodnight, is an opportunity to grow friendships and positively influence others.
The basic tenets of the book are simplistic; however, the distinction between the influence that is borrowed (shaky at best) and influence that is earned (rock solid) is crystal clear. Carnegie was the master of influence that is earned. Here are a few of his techniques that build beautiful minds:
- Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
- Be a good listener.
- Make the other person feel important.
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
We live in an unprecedented era of self-promotion. But for those who understand the basics of human relationships, there is a far better way to operate. Personal growth is not in hyping yourself to others but in sharing yourself with them.
Think about it. We live in a time when celebrity influence can be bought, and political success is commensurate to the squeakiness of the wheel. We need to be cognizant that every communication opportunity matters. For example, at Body Helix, every medium we use must be filled with messages that build trust, convey gratitude, and add value to the recipients.
Coach's sidebar: If you've never read 'How to Win Friends and Influence People,' I recommend you do so. The principles are sound, even if Carnegie's examples may be outdated in our digital age. Some say this book started the modern self-help movement; however, "self-help" was not a phrase Carnegie used. If I could re-categorize it, I would call it a "soul-help" book. Carnegie taught principles that flowed from an underlying delight in helping others. It's a healthy dose of optimism for the world.
Most of us never intend to take our friends for granted. But sometimes, we forget to acknowledge and appreciate the people in our lives.
Almost every relationship-focused routine we enjoyed before March 2020 has been altered in some way by the pandemic. Friendships we cultivated through the years were suddenly interrupted by social distancing. For a lot of us, we never knew how much we needed each other.
We must redouble our efforts to claim what was lost. Guard your friendships. The dearest friends in our lives may cross our path only for a season or for decades. Real friendships are rare and should be treasured every day, not one of those 'some days' we point to on the horizon. Pandemic or not, we have more to lose than we know.
It's always okay to course correct your friendship nurturing. As the author Robert Byrne said, 'The purpose of life is a life of purpose.' It isn't too late to start. It's good advice for all of us in these strange days we share, but good advice is only good if we pay attention.
THE HALCYON IMPACT
Recently, I have been researching the human connection and considering what it takes to build stronger friendships. What does it take to assemble a robust network of friends? How can I be a value-add in conversations? How can I contribute to the long-term benefits of others?
There is no such thing as a neutral exchange with another person. You leave someone either a little better or a little worse. The best among us leaves others a little better with every nod, every inflection, every interface.
This idea reminds me of the hallmark of Carnegie's fundamental principle: Don't criticize, condemn, or complain. If this can genuinely be embodied daily, it will have significant results. Case in point: my grandmother.
My grandmother was dealt a seemingly undue measure of life's challenges. If ever a person had reason to criticize, condemn, or complain, she did. However, despite her suffering, she never uttered the three C's. Never.
And beyond that, she was kind and tranquil. No surprise that her family and friends loved her. People genuinely wanted to be around her halcyon presence. I count myself fortunate to have been exposed to her guiding light. She helped raise me, and I am thankful. She left an indelible mark on my heart that is ever-present.
Growing up, even into young adulthood, I was amazed at how she navigated her difficult world with a mindset of calmness and gratitude. I now understand she had a beautiful mind. Every day I spent with my grandmother left me with a net mental gain. I came away in a better place emotionally after my time with her. Always.
Imagine having a halcyon friend who leaves you with a net mental gain every time you are with them. Or imagine you are the friend who leaves others a bit better each time they are around you. While it sounds Pollyanna, it is a realistic approach to building beautiful minds and stronger friendships.
It's about recognizing those whose language revolves around the 3 C's and those who don't. It's about empowering ourselves to choose the space we occupy. It's a life journey.
Coach's sidebar: Many years ago, using my grandmother as an example, I challenged myself to go through an entire day without breaking any of the 3 Cs. I am still working diligently toward this goal. Try it.
RARE AND PRECIOUS JEWELS
There is something profoundly wise about pursuing friendships — and foolish about trying to live life alone. However, where would friendship fall if we were to look at how we spend our time, what we value, and what we prioritize?
There is no fast track to lasting friendships. Instead, they are cultivated over time. To find a friend who is wise, constant, and candid with you is a rare thing. Finding someone who understands the nature of true friendship and is willing to work to be a true friend to you is not something you come across every day. Charles Bridges (19th-century English theologian) says, "A true friend is no common acquisition – the jewel itself is as rare as it is precious."
Do you provide value to your rare and precious friends? Would your friends describe you as a jewel?
Are you a luminary? https://bodyhelix.com/be-a-luminary-5-essential-skills-renown-emulate/
Instead of focusing on the Cs, we don't want (i.e., criticize, condemn, complain). Let's turn them upside down and highlight the actions we do want. The new three Cs of stronger friendships are contribution, compassion, and clarity.
Friendships are an essential ingredient in a happy life, so giving them the care and attention they deserve is vital. After the next conversation with a good friend, see if you can recall your contributions during this exchange. Did you encourage, lighten, and strengthen? How did you influence them? Were you the halcyon?
Great leaders, coaches, and mentors find friendship opportunities to contribute to beautiful minds. They honor others by leveraging their strengths for others' benefit. And they know that doing so positively affects their well-being.
These friends teach you about yourself and challenge you to be better. Friends have the power to mold you into the best version of yourself.
Did you know that researchers have found that our friendships may significantly impact our health? Friends encourage each other to have healthy minds and bodies. They urge us (or admonish us when we need it) to do things that produce a positive net effect, like limiting screen time, eating healthy, exercising, and meditating.
Friendships assist when lifestyle changes are necessary. And a close friend may also suggest activities you would not have considered on your own—thus, pushing you outside your comfort zone.
Unfortunately, toxic 'friends' have the opposite effect. Bad friends can have negative health impacts. Even well-meaning ones who don't encourage the correct behavior can also cause harm.
Just because you 'friended' someone on Facebook doesn't mean they are a true friend. Like fake news, our digital social culture is quick to show the world how many 'fake friends' they have. Be cautious of phony friends and disingenuous advice.
A lasting friendship must have a ratio of positivity to negativity at a minimum of five-to-one. That means the relationship must contribute five times more fun and feel-good feelings than disappointing or toxic moments. Which are you contributing?
Compassion is the authentic desire to help. Being compassionate toward your friends means temporarily putting aside your concerns while offering your friends the support they need. Compassion is a natural and automatic response that has ensured our survival.
Did you know that the practice of compassion is understood to be as important for health as physical exercise and a healthy diet? Connecting with others in a meaningful way can speed recovery from disease and may even lengthen our life spans.
Even just seeing someone helping another person creates a state of elevation. Have you ever been moved to tears by seeing someone's loving and compassionate behavior? Data suggests that this elevation inspires us to help others — and it may just be the force behind a chain reaction of giving.
Meditation or mindfulness practice can help increase compassion. Just like in sports, what you practice becomes stronger. The science of neuroplasticity has now well documented this wisdom, which shows that our repeated experiences shape our brains.
When we pay attention to the words we use and how we use them, we improve the odds of strengthening and deepening our most meaningful relationships. Practicing compassionate communication promotes deeper connections, more harmonious relationships, and a greater sense of inner peace. Understanding the spoken word's power and qualia can transform how we use language around our friends. It is one of our superpowers.
COGNITIVE ESCAPE VELOCITY
The purpose of the rocket is to get the spaceship going fast enough to escape the pull of earth's gravity. This is called the 'escape velocity.' When we pay attention to the power of our beautiful minds and our communication habits, we will do well to create a 'cognitive' escape velocity.
Clarity is the most crucial element in ensuring effective cognizant communication. Without clarity, there are more chances you could be misunderstood. The clarity in communication eliminates all possibilities of confusion and miscommunication. In today's world of truncated words and emoticons, clarity is even more important.
Just like any habit, improving communication takes time. Old habit gravity tries to take hold, and you may have to make more effort. You may even have some defiance against the new habit because it's taking you out of your comfort zone. If you keep trying, communication clarity will eventually become automatic, and you'll reach 'cognitive' escape velocity.
Prior to the clarity of language comes clarity of thought. Negative (unhelpful) thought patterns could impact the way we speak out loud to others. These negative thoughts are also known as the brain's 'negativity bias.'
The good news is that we don't have to resign ourselves to this. We can train our minds to adopt more empowering and uplifting thinking patterns. Moving away from biased rhetoric is empowering.
Like changing our communication habits, changing our thinking habits take time. We must get unstuck. Regular meditation is the best way to build the muscle of mindfulness and reach cognitive escape velocity.
The human mind is an astonishing network with lightning-fast neural connections firing all the time. It's meant for greatness. Treat your fiends' minds as the precious marvel it is. Wouldn't it be cool to add value to your friend and watch that benefit spread to others – and the world?
Every 'now' is a beautiful mind opportunity. With eyes wide open, look around and thoughtfully find ways to make this world awe-inspiring. Every encounter – work meeting, school, grocery shopping, dining out, traffic, sports, etc. – is a fleeting moment we can make the world a better place.
Coach's Challenge: Learn something of apparent value. Share that thought seed with your friend. Know your message and know your audience. Have dialogue in such a way that your friend can listen and understand. Although planting the seed is necessary for growth, it alone does not ensure growth. Actual development takes time and depends on what kind of inspiration you want to harvest. Be both patient and observant. You will know when you can offer more – planting at a greater depth or providing more seeds. A successful harvest of inspiration requires hard work before and after the seed is planted. Seeds are amazing – small, seemingly lifeless, yet capable of generating new growth and change.
Body Helix is dedicated to cultivating and exploring a growth mindset and salutogenesis. We urge (sometimes admonish) you – our friends – to enjoy wholesome lifestyle choices. That's what friends do. Providing the finest compression gear and unsurpassed sports fuel, we help keep our friends active – a necessity for increasing healthspan.
Learn. Share. Inspire.
Be well, my friends.