If you want to thrive in your life, rethink the design of everything around you

There are ways you could be happier and you don’t know it yet. I’m not talking about obvious unattainable life improvements like having Idris Elba for a partner, or owning a villa in Tuscany.  I’m talking about changes you can make in an hour, or in a few months, or next year that are unclear at first but obvious in retrospect, that simply require asking good questions (okay, and sometimes money).

Our lives can always improve in small ways that can have a huge ripple effect. Sure, we adjust quickly to improved circumstances, and studies show that our happiness level will return to what it was. But using this as a reason to never strive or improve anything is such an unimaginative Eeyore perspective because changes don’t have to be big. I’m not saying you have to get divorced, move to the sea, and become a lesbian— though I can personally vouch for it! I’m saying that when you make a change in your life that delights you, and your happiness quotient returns to what it was, relax— there are 20,000 more changes you can make that can produce delight, relief, or both. It’s exciting! Life can always change!

This is design thinking. It’s making people happier and more productive through changes and iterations, and it applies EV-ER-Y-WHERE. (The term is overused and bloviated, as Natasha Jen explains in this excellent 99u talk, “Design Thinking is Bullshit“, but I’m not using it in this way.)

I’ve got two personal examples of what I mean.

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How to get started working with Risk Creative

Not every client is for us and we’re not for every client.

A recent experience caused us to realize, Hey, we should explain the process for potential clients wanting to hire us for a project. What we’ve been doing has been working, but we can see how it helps to have explicit policy written in advance so that when a client comes along who may not be a good fit, they can identify that, saving us all time.

So, here is what it’s like to commence working with Risk Creative.

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The best business leaders embrace feminine behaviours

quote from Pablo Isla on emotional intelligence in the work place

This quote jumped out at me from Harvard Business Review’s November 2016 issue. While I’m the feminine-appearing half of Lynne’s and my partnership, I’m more masculine in personality.

In the past couple of years especially, I have learned that masculine people like myself are as emotional as feminine people, we just tend to suppress our emotions, causing them to bubble up as impatience, irritation and anger, all examples of externalized blame and all socially acceptable ways of showing emotion in business. We act like other people are upsetting us and are simply not being tough enough when they are upset with us.  Sometimes we think these “delicate snowflakes”—who demand a certain degree of care and who make their personal lives and feelings about their work experience known—are asking us to put in extra effort to take care of them. But really they are asking us to put in extra effort to take care of ourselves, so that we can be more aware of what is bothering us so that we don’t take it out on others. When we suppress our feelings and pretend that we’re not humans with personal lives, moods, emotional triggers, heartbreaks, and fears, we create oppressive, mechanical environments where everyone is afraid to be wrong, to screw up, or to have feelings.

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Competitive meditation: We just made it a thing

Lynne and I are both a little competitive, but we like that about each other. It’s fun to compete at Ticket to Ride, arm wrestling, and parallel parking, so of course we found a way to compete at having the best brain waves. Because, why not.

What— you haven’t heard of competitive meditating? Counter-intuitive, you say? We must be creative geniuses and intolerable pills of people to even invent such a thing? Yes.

I purchased the Muse biofeedback headband for Lynne’s 40th birthday. I’ve been using it myself and forcing encouraging our children to use it. The headband listens to our brain waves as we listen to relaxing beach/rainforest/city/desert sounds. As our minds get distracted and busy, the sounds get louder, reminding us to calm down, and when we get really calm, we faintly hear birds. The app counts up how many birds chirped congrats at our calmness, and it tracks progress. Lynne hates it. (Possibly because I’m winning.)

I find that the headband helps me meditate better than without it and Lynne has seen gains in her ability to control her mind. She’s also been using the app Streaks to keep motivated on her main goals.

If you’re not already  meditating regularly, you’re not as healthy or happy as you could be.

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