The 3-To-1 Positivity Ratio

Research shows that our brains are hard-wired to over-emphasize the negative experiences we have. Due to an evolutionary survival mechanism called the “negativity bias”, the human brain holds on to and amplifies the negative much more than the positive. It was more essential for our distant ancestors to remember the experience with the dangerous bear, than the beautiful field of flowers.

According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson (University of North Carolina, 2009), we need three positive experiences for every negative emotional experience in order to keep a positive mindset. According to her, we can actively build a collaborative relationship between our survival minds and our thrive minds. This 3-to-1 ratio should be maintained both in thoughts and feelings, as well as in interactions with people that matter to us.

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What are a few ways to build that collaborative relationship between those two parts of our minds?

It starts with awareness: Pay attention to when you are having negative thoughts and feelings, including stress, anxiety, anger, disappointment, blame, guilt, shame, self-doubt, regret, etc. These thoughts might happen in response to yourself, to others or to events and circumstances. When you notice them, counter by commanding your mind to come up with at least 3 positives:

See the adventure around the challenge: Can you learn something new? Can you explore something exciting? Can you grow a new skill?

Look for opportunity: What is a positive aspect of a negative event? What could be a positive consequence of the negative circumstance?

-Zoom out and broaden your view: What does the big picture look like? What do you see now that you have not seen before?

Take small risks that take you out of your comfort zone.

Practice self-compassion: See the beautiful essence in you! Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.

These thoughts could be quick and simple, and they will start to shift your brain activity to the positive side.

If you are curious about this and many more Mental Fitness exercises, I would love to meet you in a non-binding chat.

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Here is a Link to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity Self-Test

Playing to our strengths

Playing to your strength means doing what you are able to do well, rather than doing other things.

An example: A friend’s son was assessed for ADHD. In the process, it was found that he is simply a kid who needs more physical exercise than he was getting in school and at home. It was not easy, but the school and the parents found ways for him to get more play time outside and more time when he is unplugged from any technical devices.

This story led me to think about people in general:

Are we living our lives playing to our strengths or are we just playing along with the structures we find ourselves in?
How can we create the lives that make it possible for us to use our strengths and flourish?

This is of course only part of the picture. As professionals, we have to be realistic: It is not always possible to use our strengths (or is it?), to embrace our weaknesses (have you heard the term “own your weaknesses”?), and to know your growth areas. As a person working with other people, you can also play to their strengths (how exciting!), and of course, we are well advised to stretch to form new strengths, and develop an authentic, informed, and confident awareness around the whole topic. In summary: To be who we are!

In my Nature Connected Living Quest you will discover and work in a very comprehensive way with your strengths.

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

(Photo by Dustin Humes, Unsplash 2022)

Article inspired by: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/01/10/play-to-your-strengths-13-even-better-ways-to-improve-your-leadership-skills/?sh=6ca7d03b6f79

Judgement is Disconnecting

Judging others, circumstances, or oneself is stripping an event of its embeddedness into the system it occurred in.

– Manuela Zeitlhofer (2022)

(photo by Eskay Lim, Unsplash, 2022)

Have you ever noticed yourself judging others, circumstances and yourself (!) with a very sharp and self-righteous mind? And has it ever happened, that – in comparable situations – you found yourself full of compassion, or curiosity over the mistakes and wrongdoings of others and yourself?

If you can relate to both, you might sense that…

…judgement comes from within, because ever external circumstance can lead you to either be judgemental or compassionate. (Some contributing factors might be the self-care you treat yourself with, and how full your reservoir of self-love is.)

…there are factors inside of you that sabotage you, your goals, your goodness (called “Saboteurs” or “Inner Critics”), as well as factors that bring out the best in you (called “Sage”).

…every problem, every circumstance, everything you might get agitated or upset about can lead to an opportunity, a gift even.

This topic lends itself so beautifully to coaching! If you are curious, please comment, or send me a note.

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

The Magic of Persistence

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

― Calvin Coolidge

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Many times our inner critics keep us from achieving our fullest potential. Imagine what you could do if you were not concerned about failure, but if you saw every failure as a teachable moment that can only advance you toward your goals?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Don’t Throw In The Towel!

“You can throw in the towel, or you can us it to wipe the sweat off your face!” (Gatorade)

This metaphor was used in a Gatorade slogan in 2003. It seems to have a wide range of applications, from physical exercise to mental fitness, to goal orientation and endurance.

What does it mean to you?
Where and when are you tempted to throw in a towel, and what happens when you persevere?

One area of such turmoil for me is going out into the world and approaching strangers, telling them about my services, so they have a chance to get to trust me as an ally on their self-development journey.

(photo by Dim Hou, Unsplash, 2022)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

My Animal Teachers

Dora & Speckles, June 21, 2021

After I had written my previous two posts, a racoon attacked and killed one of our ducks: Dora, a little black female.

I was reminded that nature is neither good nor bad, nature just IS. The racoon needs to eat. The ducks don’t fight back. (And I failed to keep them safe, as our electric netting fence was not strong enough to keep the racoon out.)

We have been planning to get a dog in September. Too late for Dora, but hopefully the dog will deter any predators and keep our remaining ducks safe.

I am still sad about loosing that little bird. And I am contemplating what it means to be human, and to have the choice to be humane.

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What does it mean for you to be humane and in what situations do you see yourself be consciously humane?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Animal Communication

For many people, animal communication is something that only the ‘gifted few’ can achieve. This of course is entirely untrue as we were all born with the ability to talk to and hear animals.

Holly Davis, Animal Communication With All Species

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Challenge: Communicate with the next animal you see. Then drop me a note! What have you learned?

“Starlings”, by Manuela Zeitlhofer, May 28, 2020

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Animal Teachers

How frequently do you interact with animals in your daily life? – Chances are that those interactions are scarce, or limited to pets. Our societies might have separated humans from animals, seeing humans as superior to animals. Yet, we admire certain qualities in specific animals. What can we learn from animals?

How about patience, living in the Now, connectedness with the intricate web of life we are part of, responsibility, attentive listening, living in tune with the natural world, and sticking together.

(inspired by 10 Important Life Lessons we can Learn From Animals)

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Can you guess which animals possess then traits listed above? – This can be a rewarding activity to do with your child! Also, you might want to observe animals around you to see which traits they display!

“Master of Camouflage” by Manuela Zeitlhofer (July 28, 2022)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

My Wealth

Do you associate wealth with money? I do struggle with the concept at times. Then I remind myself that I have enough. For me, it comes down to making the conscious decision to be happy in the Now. Because NOW is all we have. The past is a memory and the future is an imagination. Most of the time, I have all I NEED in the very moment I am in. It is often the WANTS that I want (!) to pursue.

To remain still and just be, let the moment be all I want – that is happiness for me. My wealth is my happiness, the feeling of being enough, and of having enough (or more than enough), right now.

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How about you? Where lies your wealth? And what are your thoughts about this week’s posts?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

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(photo by Anton Luzhkovsky, Unsplash)

In My Own Way

Have you battled internal obstacles – problems that were entirely created by your way of approaching the world in your thinking and actions? – I have!

For more than a year I had been bothered by a digestive issue: There was a knot in my intestines, always in the same spot. It never went away. The intensity of the discomfort varied. I consulted my family doctor. I consulted an Ayurvedic doctor. Nothing. I researched online. – A partial breakthrough was achieved when I found a useful video how to alleviate the symptoms temporarily. But no solution appeared. I started to despair.

Then, we went on vacation and I did not drink my tap water. The discomfort was gone.

I had stumbled upon the solution. The problem – or obstacle – had been too close to me to be visible.

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Question: What is an obstacle you have come to live with, because you do not perceive there to be a way around or over it?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

(photo by Ethan Dow, Unsplash)

Changing Course Fluidly

Flexibility is the key to common sense and success

A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. The captain, who was concerned about the deteriorating conditions, stayed on the bridge so that he could keep an eye on all activities. One night, shortly after dark, [the fog was getting even thicker] the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, ‘A light, captain, bearing on the starboard bow.’
‘Is it steady or moving astern?’ the captain asked.
The lookout confirmed that it was steady, which meant that the battleship was apparently on a dangerous collision course with the other ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, ‘Signal that ship: “We are on a collision course. Advise you change course 20 degrees north.”’
Back came the response from the other ship: ‘You change course 20 degrees south.’
Annoyed at the arrogance of the response, the captain said, ‘Send: “I am a captain, change course 20 degrees north.”’
‘I am a seaman second class,’ came the reply, ‘you had still better change course 20 degrees south.’
By this time, the captain was furious. He shouted, ‘Send: “I am a battleship. Change course 20 degrees north.”’
Back came the flashing light: ‘I am a lighthouse.’
The captain changed course. (Tales for Coaching, 133)

(photo by Ethan Dow, Unsplash)

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Questions:

What cannot be moved? What CAN be moved?Answer (?)

What represents the ‘fog’ for you? How could you lift this fog?Answer (?)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Change – Perspective – growth … Obvious?

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer

In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. – Max De Pree

Do you remember the metaphor about the two caterpillars looking at a butterfly I shared a few days ago? – It can be found at: https://creeksideinspirations.ca/two-caterpillars/

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Question: What change are you resisting and what might become obvious if you change your perspective?

(photo by Jeffrey Dungen, Unsplash)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Identity

“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman [editorial comment: …or man] finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.” ― Betty Friedan

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What makes you unique? What does the voice inside tell you?

Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness Coach

Freedom in Between

So often, people feel that they are not in charge of their own lives, that their lives are determined by circumstance, duties and habits.

Victor Frankl is said to have shared a thought-provoking perspective:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl

What are your thoughts on that? Please drop me a note.

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New and super relevant: I have expanded into Mental Fitness coaching to support lasting change in my clients’ lives.

#mentalfitness #personalfreedom #mindfulness #coachmanuelazeitlhofer

Multiple Perspectives

Essentially, things just are. We attribute meaning to things and events. Sometimes we dwell in the negative aspects or implications of something, when there really are other sides to everything.

In coaching we use this principle, and we call it reframing: We encourage a different perspective or seeing something in a different light.

Today, I did this with my sandpit: Part of our property consists of a former sandpit that was left in its soil-deprived state. For the past 25 years, nothing more than a few tough grasses, willows and even fewer very tough pines and cedars (all looking like bonsais) have been growing here. In the summer, this bothers my agriculturalist’s heart. Now, with a little bit of snow, the steep banks make marvelous sliding hills. And I wonder what other things in my life need reframing.

How about you? What could you reframe right now? – Please share your thoughts!

Everything Has Two Sides

I repainted my mailbox. It looks like new, but the flag is not installed properly yet (long story). When I inspected it today, contemplating how to solve the issue, I noticed beautiful ice crystals on the north-facing side of the mailbox. The south-facing side was steaming in the sunlight.

I was thinking how everything has two sides: literally and metaphorically speaking.

If we accept that our perspective can only be subjective, and that every situation has different aspects to it, then we have to accept that we might not always sit on the sunny side of a reality. And if that is the case, we could infer that there IS indeed a sunn(ier) side to things.

How does that strike you?

By the way, as a life coach I can assist you in finding those other perspectives. And I accept new clients!

Freedom Choices

I keep thinking about my fellow Austrians. My country of birth seems divided and propaganda is driving the wedge even deeper.

Thinking about our collective history, I am concerned where this might lead (again). What comes after the division? Segregation? Finding a scapegoat? Then what?

I keep thinking about this dilemma. And I want to understand. So please come along and let’s ask some questions.

The situation as it presents itself to me in the stories I hear and read from people I know:

The government is taking away some of our freedoms, and we feel restricted. Some of us fight by being obstinate or by complaining. Others, in a more inward-directed way, are being unhappy. A few might be involved in constructive political activism; others trust that our countries’ leaders are doing the best they can.

Right now, we find ourselves deprived of some of the freedoms we have gotten used to, like the freedom to travel, the freedom to meet friends, the freedom to go window shopping, or the freedom to have a nice meal in a restaurant.

I am putting the following thought out there:

Our freedom is never absolute. There are always some limitations to our actual choices.

Freedom then becomes a choice. We can choose to be happy, quite independently of the circumstance. We can be happy that we are alive, content to be able to go for walks, loving the sun, the wind and the stars. We can choose our emotional response when we hear people spreading negativity, we can even choose to turn off the TV or turn away from those people.

We can choose which feelings we act upon: Love or hatred, contentment or restlessness….

I am challenging you to try this:

Do the best you can, always, from a place of love and consideration. The let it go and be happy, this very moment.

Drop me a note with your thoughts. Thank you!

My Freedom in a Tree (August 8, 2021)