Janet's Blog

Do you need more calm in your life?


I wanted to share this perspective for us busy people including our children.

Carl Honoré is a Canadian journalist who wrote the internationally best-selling book In Praise of Slowness: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed about the Slow Movement.

What is the Slow Movement?

It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.

What are the tell-tale symptoms of living too fast?

When you feel tired all the time and like you’re just going through the motions, getting through the many things on your To-Do list but not engaging with them deeply or enjoying them very much. You don’t remember things as vividly when you rush through them. You feel like you’re racing through your life instead of actually living it. Illnesses are often the body’s way of saying Enough already, slow down!

Why do we need a Slow Movement now?

It seems to me that we are moving towards an historical turning point. For at least 150 years everything has been getting faster and for the most part speed was doing us more good than harm in that time. But in recent years we’ve entered the phase of diminishing returns. Today we are addicted to speed, to cramming more and more into every minute. Every moment of the day feels like a race against the clock, a dash to a finish line that we never seem to reach. This roadrunner culture is taking a toll on everything from our health, diet and work to our communities, relationships and the environment. That is why the Slow Movement is taking off.

Here is another great article.

Slow down, parents. It’s good for your kids


Recently, I was asked, “how we can make time for play in our busy lives?”

Some people, especially those with younger kids, may balk at the idea that we need to make time for play. I remember when our kids were small, life was all about three things: sleeping, eating and playing. It was a cycle that made up our daily routine. This was a particularly slow time in our lives when we really didn’t need to do anything or be anywhere (including work, thankfully, because I was able to be a stay-at-home mom).

As our kids got older the pace quickened and it became necessary to consciously carve out out time for play, because it’s easy to get sucked into the vacuum of “busy.” Or as Ferris Bueller put it, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Imagine what Ferris would make of the warped the speed we’re moving at 28 years after he uttered this famous line.

Thank goodness, Carl Honoré, award-winning journalist, author, globe-trotting speaker, and ambassador for the “slow movement” has taken up the cause and his approach is practical, reasonable and reassuring.

I spoke to Carl once about the connection between slowing down and kids developing physical literacy, a key ingredient in predicting whether a child remains active throughout their life time. The following are 10 tips I have pulled from our conversation on how to incorporate the slow movement into your life in order to raise active, healthy, happy kids.

  1. Focus on building a foundation, not on early success We’ve all heard the expression slow and steady wins the race. According to Honoré, in our quest to raise the next athletic superstar we’re pushing kids too fast and too hard without equipping them with the building blocks (like hopping, running, jumping, etc.) they need to be able to continue being physically active throughout their lives. He sees this phenomenon not only in sports but in grammar and math as well and notes that kids who are given the time to master the ABCs will catch up with those that excel early, and eventually surpass them.
  2. Resist the mini-me syndrome If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “we’re doing dance camp this summer” it’s time to take a step back. Honoré talked to me about how the line has become blurred between parents and children because we’ve become so overly invested in our kids’ achievements. It’s a claustrophobic situation for both sides, he says. Kids need the space to find their own interests and passions, make their own mistakes and have their own successes. Parents also benefit from taking off some of the pressure to be on the sidelines or in the stands for every practice and game.
  3. Take a break from dinner in the SUV We’re moving so quickly through our days that we’re losing sight of the unique needs of our families. Pressing the pause button on some of our activities and obligations can help us gain back the perspective that has been lost running around all the time. According to Honoré, slowing down helps us tune back into our own intuition about what’s best for ourselves and our families.
  4. Schedule unscheduled time Some people might fear that slowing down or taking a break from organized activities means that everyone will retreat to their devices or to the couch. But Honoré says that it’s important is to actually schedule slow time into your day. During this time you can do things as a family that help kids develop physical literacy without them feeling like they are being coached or checking another thing off a list of tasks. It’s easy to develop skills while spending time together just “…go for a bike ride in the park, or go look for interesting stones at the beach, or build a fort,” suggests Honoré.
  5. Follow your own recipe Sometimes it seems as if there is little choice but to follow the way everyone else is doing things, but often, with a little creativity, you can find a new approach. Honoré gives the example of a child that loves hockey – it may seem like you either have to commit to playing four nights a week or not play at all. But if you can see through these two choices you can create something that might work better for your family and still lets your child play the game they love. Maybe it’s finding other kids to play road hockey, or engaging an older cousin or neighbour to pass along tips. Not everything needs to be programmed.
  6. Pour your energy into the simple things. While many of today’s parents are spending a great deal of energy on building their child’s “resumés,” Honoré is concerned that we aren’t spending energy on the simple things that go a long way to helping kids develop into well-rounded people – like having a meal together or reading them a story. Honoré warns that in trying to build the perfect child, we’re forgoing the very things that help to create a good one.
  7. Look for the balance between structure and space There is a middle ground between pushing a child and leaving them to their own devices. Honoré wants parents to understand that children need a little pushing, training, instruction and competition but that they also need to the time and space to figure things out on their own and direct their own play and interests.
  8. Turn down the pressure Not every child who participates in a sport will be a superstar and it’s important to realize that they will still get a lot out of taking part, even if they aren’t the best. The more pressure we put on a child playing a sport, the more likely it will be that they quit. Because pressure isn’t fun – and kids play sports to have fun. Parents hungry to turn out an elite athlete are at risk of “kill[ing] that thing we love, piling on so much pressure and so much organization so early that we squeeze out that space where the child can learn and get confident in herself.”
  9. Get out of the way of children’s play Honoré notes that as adults we can get between kids and their play, even though our intentions are good. But by slowing down we can see when we’re needed and when we’re inserting ourselves unnecessarily. “Let’s help [kids] but let’s help them at the right rhythm, the right pace so we’re not rushing when we shouldn’t be rushing and messing up the thing that we really want to nurture.”
  10. Know you’re not alone Instead of accepting the status quo while complaining about 5 a.m. practices, for example, consider that if it’s not working for you then that’s probably true for others as well. Honoré emboldens everyone to take stock of what we’re doing and if it fits into our lives, he invites us to say, “Is this what we really wanted for our kids? Is it want we wanted for ourselves? You hear these conversations going on in playgrounds, hockey training camps on the sidelines, you know it’s everywhere, and sometimes it’s to say, well instead of moaning about it why don’t we try to think about what we can do?”

It’s all about figuring out if you like what you see when you finally do stop and look around – and if not, making changes that feel right for your unique family.

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Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu Therapies for Your Wellbeing

I wanted to share these two therapies for your wellbeing. They are Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu.

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What is Jin Shin Jyutsu® ?

Jin Shin Jyutsu (pronounced “jin shin jootsu”) is the ancient art of harmonizing body, mind and spirit with gentle touch. It facilitates balance in the body’s energy systems, which promotes health and well being.

Jin Shin Jyutsu was rediscovered in Japan in the early 1900’s by Master Jiro Murai.
Master Murai defined Jin Shin Jyutsu as “the Art of the Creator expressed through the person of compassion”. He taught this art to Mary Burmeister who brought it to the U.S. in the 1950’s.

Jin Shin Jyutsu is an invaluable complement to conventional healing methods, inducing relaxation, reducing the effects of stress, and assisting our innate healing capacity.

While bearing conceptual similarities and lineage with acupuncture and acupressure, Jin Shin Jyutsu is an exceptionally gentle, non-invasive energetic healing modality that does not use needles or pressure to realize the potential benefits.

How does Jin Shin Jyutsu work?

Our bodies contain energy pathways (meridians) that feed life into all cells.
When one or more of these paths become blocked, the damming effect can lead to disharmony, manifested as discomfort or illness.

Deficiencies, over-stimulation, blockages, stagnation can develop in these energy pathways in response to various factors including lifestyle stresses, attitudes, environmental influences, illness and traumatic events.

To unblock and stimulate the circulation of energy along the affected meridian, the Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner applies a series of hand placement combinations using 52 energy centers called “Safety Energy Locks” (26 on each side of the body), restoring harmony to body, mind and spirit.

What is Jin Shin Jyutsu beneficial for?

This simple, yet incredibly powerful healing art yields amazing results physically, as well as emotionally. It is effective in:

  • relieving pain
  • allergies
  • colds
  • immune system
  • anxiety, depression
  • headaches, migraines
  • autoimmune disorders
  • asthma, respiratory problems
  • skin disease
  • digestive disorders
  • blood pressure, circulatory problems
  • stroke, brain injury
  • spinal misalignments, bones, joints
  • muscle disorders
  • infertility, reproductive problems
  • reducing side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments

So far, research studies have showed that when added to the conventional medical treatment, Jin Shin Jyutsu helped reduce symptoms of pain, nausea and vomiting after surgery, improved breathing in patients in chronic lung disease, improved recovery from cardiac procedures, and improved quality of life during chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

In a Jin Shin Jyutsu session which lasts about one hour the client rests comfortably, fully clothed on a cushioned treatment table.
Jin Shin Jyutsu treatments are safe, non-intrusive and do not involve massaging, manipulating, pressuring or rubbing the body.

A Jin Shin session begins with listening to the client’s pulse, which indicates the client’s current state of being. The pulse reveals to the practitioner information about what energy path needs to be unblocked in order to restore harmony, balance, and well-being.

The treatment consists of holding gently different energy locations on the body in various combinations.
Stress is alleviated and the client feels much more centered and relaxed.
Although for chronic conditions several sessions might be needed, improvement is usually experienced after only one or a few sessions.

Original Article

The Jin Shin Jyutsu practice of holding the fingers

Original Article

Holding the fingers is a Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help practice that is extremely simple and yet profound. Because so many of the Jin Shin Jyutsu energy pathways run through the fingers (the ten fingers are said to regulate 14,400 functions within the body), holding the fingers is a way to balance and harmonize energy in the whole body. I encourage you to give this practice a try.

Attitudes associated with each finger

There is a primary emotion (what Jin Shin Jyutsu calls “attitudes”) associated with each finger. As you can see under the additional benefits I’ve listed below, there are also other attitudes associated with each finger, as well as physical symptoms. You can target these attitude and symptoms by holding specific fingers.

First, let me list the primary attitudes and the benefits of holding each finger. Then I’ll talk about various ways you can practice holding the fingers.

Worry: The thumb.

jin-shin-jyutsu-holding-l-thumbAdditional benefits: for depression, hate, obsession, anxiety, self-protection, to revitalize physical fatigue, for the back of the head, breathing, and digestive discomforts. Mary Burmeister recommended holding the thumb at the first sign of a headache.

Fear: The index finger.

jin-shin-jyutsu-holding-l-index-fingerAdditional benefits: for timidity, mental confusion, depression, perfectionism, criticism, frustration, digestive issues, elimination, wrist/elbow/upper arm discomforts. Mary Burmeister recommended holding the index finger at the first sign of a backache.

Anger: The middle finger.

jin-shin-jyutsu-holding-l-middle-fingerAdditional benefits: for feeling cowardly, irritable, indecisive, unstable, not alert, overly emotional, general fatigue, eye issues, forehead discomforts.

Sadness/Grief: The ring finger.

jin-shin-jyutsu-holding-l-ring-fingerAdditional benefits: for negative feelings, common sense, excess mucus, breathing, ear discomforts.

Trying To/Pretense (cover-up): The little finger.

jin-shin-jyutsu-holding-l-little-fingerAdditional benefits: for “crying on the inside and laughing on the outside” (that’s what’s meant by “trying to/pretense”), feeling insecure, nervous, confused, issues of “why am I here,” calms nerves, aids bloating. Mary Burmeister recommended holding the little finger at the first sign of a sore throat.

There is an acronym to help you remember the primary attitude associated with each finger. It’s “Get rid of Worry FAST.” W is for Worry (thumb), F for Fear (index), A for Anger (middle), S for Sadness (ring), and T for Trying To (little).

How to practice holding the fingers

There are two basic ways to practice holding the fingers. You can either hold all ten fingers, first on one hand then the other, or you can concentrate on the attitudes and benefits associated with just one finger.

When concentrating on just one finger, there are again two basic ways to do this. In Jin Shin Jyutsu, holding just one finger is called a “quickie.” The “quickie” hold simply involves holding a finger on one hand with the fingers and thumb of the other hand. For example, to hold the left thumb, you wrap all four fingers of your right hand around your left thumb.

You might choose to hold your thumb, for example, when you notice that you’re worried. I’ve been holding my ring finger lately because I have some tinnitus in my right ear. Don’t worry about whether you hold fingers on your left or right hand. The energy pathways cross over from one side of the body to the other. It’s more important to do what’s most convenient for you in the moment.

The second way to focus on the attitudes and benefits of an individual finger is to use a longer (extended) sequence for that finger. An extended sequence is a combination of fingers that you hold one after the other. For example, the extended sequence for Worry is to hold the thumb, then hold the middle finger, then the little finger. I’ll describe the extended sequences in the next post.

How long should you hold a finger?

You have several options when it comes to the length of time to hold the fingers. If you have plenty of time, hold all ten fingers, holding each finger until you feel a pulse arrive in that finger. If you find the finger is already pulsing strongly when you first touch it, hold that finger until the pulse calms down.

Another way to hold all ten fingers is simply to hold each finger for two or more breaths. This is a great practice to do throughout the day. It can be very meditative and relaxing.

When you hold just one finger (the “quickie”) to support a particular attitude, you can continue holding for as long as you like. For example, if you’re in a meeting at work, sitting around a table, and something is making you angry (and you don’t want to express that anger at the moment), you can keep your hands under the table and hold the middle finger until you feel the emotion softening.

Holding the fingers as you fall asleep

Holding the fingers before falling asleep is an excellent practice. It not only establishes a habit — a time of day when you’ll do acupressure self-help — but it will help you fall asleep.

In the next two posts I’ll describe first the extended sequence of holding individual fingers and then the finger mudras. Once you know all three practices, you can combine them into a nighly falling asleep ritual. Chances are you’ll fall asleep before you finish.

You can also use this practice if you wake up during the night or if you suffer from insomnia. Focus your mind on the finger and your breath. Notice the difference in temperature between the air that enters the nostrils and the warmer air that you exhale. This will keep your thoughts from racing and keeping you awake.

The different ways of holding the fingers — holding all ten or holding a quickie, holding for two breaths or waiting for a pulse — influence the body on a variety of levels, but they are all effective. Choose a style that feels most comfortable and satisfying to you in the moment.


Click on this video to find out more about Reiki


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Happy New Year

Happy New YearNew Years is a time for many people to make resolutions and promises to improve themselves and their lives.

From time to time I find very profound quotes, if put into practice could create amazingly positive life changes.

Please read and see what fits for you in your life.

“You don’t ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn’t matter whether someone is a relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance — you don’t have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It’s one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, and “continues” to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go.”

~Daniell Koepke

“The people who trigger us to feel negative emotion are messengers. They are messengers for the unhealed parts of our being.”

~Teal Swan

“Quit hanging on to the past; fantasizing, dreaming, wishing and replaying it. You can’t change it. You just haven’t realized it yet it, but you have moved on. You are different now; not of the past, but of now — a different person. You don’t need what the past had. Your life is here today. Your greatest moments are ahead of you and are right where you are now, so seize them while you can, before it is too late.”

 ~Bryant McGill


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Our stubborn minds in a nutshell

Stubborn Mind in a NutshellI just love exploring definitions of how our minds work and why we have a tough time getting out of our own way. We can hold on to the labels given to us growing up, and believe that they are our own, even if they are detrimental to our self esteem and a complete lie.

These labels can become our subconscious programming and affect our adult decisions and confidence.

Here is an explanation of what makes us tick.

“In our conscious minds, we do things we long to stop. Giving up things that damage our health and taking up things that improve it would be wonderful. So what holds us back?”

“Everything you think or do is logged in the vast computer that is the unconscious mind, and the thoughts you access and the thoughts you repress are determined by your private logic. This personal reasoning, as opposed to common sense, has no rational basis, and is formed from all the people and experiences that have influenced you. If your own actions occasionally frustrate and bewilder you, it is probably because the motivation behind such puzzling behavior comes from the hidden agenda lodged in your unconscious mind.”

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Cues, Chunking, and Neural Pathways: The Science of How Habits Are Formed

In my work as a hypnotherapist I am fascinated with how and why we do what we do. So I wanted to share the science of our habits and the reason they are not set in stone. ~ Janet Montgomery

This article was written by Tony Khuon – posted in Evolutionary Psychology

How are habits formed? Science is beginning to tell us the answer.What’s clear is that more of our lives are ruled by habits than you might think.

The brain

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
— Aristotle

Prolific author and writing teacher Dean Wesley Smith reminds us that summer is when many writers let their writing habits slip (emphasis added):

We are in the “writers forget” days. This period of time is when many, many writers let their writing slide, let learning slide, lose focus on goals and dreams. Most writers tend to come back (I call it wake up) around August (Although many don’t come back until the end of the year because they feel they have failed.) But the ones that return in August wonder why they didn’t get much writing done in the last three months. There are lots of reasons for this, of course, and all valid to each writer. Mostly, the writer just forgets to make the time to write a little each day, or learn a little each week.

As a writer myself, I can understand what Smith is talking about. The months he is referring to here mean summer in the northern hemisphere. The summer months are a bane of productivity. The weather’s nicer, the social calendar fills up, and the heat breeds lethargy.

Willpower is a finite resource. You get a set amount each day to achieve what you want to achieve. Expending willpower to beat the heat and refrain from social activities leads to sagging motivation at the keyboard.

But what if there was a way to not expend willpower to write? What if sitting at the computer and getting started happened automatically, without your consciously forcing yourself to do it?

Welcome to the world of habit formation.

“The Effortless Custody of Automatism”

Mason CurryMason Currey writes about the work habits of famous authors, artists, and composers on his blog and in his book, Daily Rituals.

One of Currey’s subjects is the American philosopher and psychologist, William James. Here’s James talking about the benefits of habit formation (emphasis added):

The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation

What’s funny is William James himself was a chronic procrastinator. He could never keep to a schedule and led a disorderly, chaotic life. In his advice as a lecturer, he was diagnosing a problem within himself.

Recognizing the dangers of not having any kind of routine, James advocated the benefits of productive work habits to his younger colleagues and his students.

But James is essentially correct. Imagine if you had to use “express volitional deliberation” AKA willpower to do everything. Brush your teeth, make your coffee, start your car. Your life would be a living hell. You’d be mentally exhausted 45 minutes after waking up.

Your life doesn’t look like that because you’re able to form habits. Those habits fade into the background processing of your mind, freeing your conscious mind to expend brainpower on problems that really matter.

But in order to get those habits to work for you (instead of against you), you have to build specific triggers. Those specific triggers are called cues.

Cue and Response: Habit Triggering 101

Habits are triggered by specific cues. When a person says “Thank you” we are cued to respond with “You’re welcome.” When we wake up in the morning, most of us are cued to immediately brush our teeth.

In a 2010 study published by Health Psychology, researchers Sheina Orbell and Bas Verplanken demonstrated that automated habits can last long after the initial need that gave rise to them has gone away. The author Caroline L. Arnold, in her 2014 book Small Move, Big Change, cites the following from the Orbell and Verplanken paper:

[A] person’s initial decision to eat a cookie when drinking a cup of tea might be guided by an active goal state (e.g., feeling hungry). However, over time the goal becomes less necessary as cookie eating is repeated and becomes integrated with the act of drinking tea so that it can be triggered by the cue alone.

Later in the study, the researchers describe an experiment where the benefits of dental floss are related to volunteers and given a package of dental floss.

One group was told to write down where they intended to floss for the next four weeks. The other group was told nothing.

When they tracked the results, the first group of volunteers had flossed significantly more than the second group. The first group had created a cue for the flossing habit.

You don’t need a research scientist to prompt you to create these cues. You can do it yourself.

Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and author Charles Duhigg writes about the science of habit formation in his 2014 book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Duhigg describes how habits are formed in the following passage:

First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.

inally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

Becoming aware of this process lets you build better habits. Critically, you can also learn to avoid creating bad habits (like overspending). So long as you encounter consistent cues and receive consistent rewards, certain routines can “lock in.” That’s how an afternoon treat turns into 5 pounds of belly fat.

But on some level, these are the “easy” problems. Tying shoes, brushing teeth, and refraining from eating candy bars hardly compare to the level of thorny problems that we’re asked to deal with day-in and day-out.

How are habits formed when they involve more complicated tasks? Can we use the science of habit formation to get better at our jobs or do more cognitively and creatively demanding work?

Chunking and Carved Neural Pathways: How Complex Habits Are Formed

playing chess

Photo Credit: practicalowl via Compfight cc

In The Art of Learning, author and national chess champion Josh Waitzkin talks about chunking, a concept that is critical to learning complex skills:

Chunking relates to the mind’s ability to assimilate large amounts of information into a cluster that is bound together by certain patterns or principles particular to a given discipline.

Waitzkin cites the work of Dutch psychologist Adriaan de Groot (1965) and William Simon and Herbert Chase (1973). The psychologists studied chess players of varying degrees of skill. The chess players were asked to look at various chess positions and game states and told to reproduce them on an empty board.

The stronger players demonstrated better memory when they were asked to replicate the game states of other strong players.

Waitzkin says, “they re-created the positions by taking parts of the board (say five or six pieces) and chunking (merging) them in the mind by their interrelationships. The stronger the player, the more sophisticated was his or her ability to quickly discover connecting logical patterns between the pieces (attack, defense, tension, pawn chains, etc.) …”

What’s interesting is that this “chess memory” went away when the chess positions were random or the board represented nonsensical states. If the stronger chess players’ superior performance in the study were solely about working memory, then they would have been equally adept at memorizing “good” and “bad” games of chess.

But they weren’t.

In Waitzkin’s formulation, carved neural pathways are the navigation system between chunks. He likens it to carving a path through dense jungle. Clearing a path could take days. But once it’s cleared, you can move quickly through the pathway.

If you built a road, it would become faster still.

The strong chess players were stumped by nonsensical board states because they didn’t possess the carved neural pathways for them.

The pathways between chunks of information allow you to create meta-habits, like tackling complex problems or making decisions under uncertain conditions.

These carved neural pathways are created by repetition and deliberate practice. The more chunks of knowledge and experience you connect, the more the adjacent possibilities open up to you and the more you improve at your craft.

Building Your Trigger: Routines Become Cues

In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin also describes helping a man named Dennis build a routine for relaxation:

• Eat a light consistent snack for 10 minutes
• 15 minutes of meditation
• 10 minutes of stretching
• 10 minutes of listening to Bob Dylan
• Play catch with his son

After he fully internalized the routine, Waitzkin suggested to Dennis that he perform the routine the morning before an important meeting.

“He did so an came back raving that he found himself in a totally serene state in what was normally a stressful environment,” Waitzkin reports. He now had a method to put himself into a good frame of mind before any high-leverage situation, like a critical business negotiation.

Over time, Dennis can iteratively change the routine so that it takes less time and becomes more “portable” without sacrificing its effectiveness.

Fifteen minutes for meditation becomes twelve minutes. Ten minutes of stretching becomes eight. Bob Dylan turns into one song. Playing catch with his son becomes a chat on the drive to school. And so on.

In time, the routine will become so compact that it itself becomes a cue. A cue to enter into a more relaxed mental state. Better communication becomes the new routine, and the reward is the satisfaction from more productive and effective meetings.

How can you build a cue for better habits today?

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