Author - Paige

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Paige Baggett-Riggins, a self-proclaimed "Information Junkie," is addicted to the exploration of all modalities that improve our mind, body and spirit. She relies on a daily mindfulness practice to control her "speed eating" habit and the constant urge to add more to her ever increasing book "situation."

Can Smoothies Really Change My Life?


I admit it, I’m addicted to my green smoothies – so much that I have risked being late for work just so I can whip one up  (so grateful for my Vitamix blender!) to drink on my commute when leaving my home even a minute or two late can mean adding 15 minutes to my drive.

My obsession with smoothies began with my first sip when I  felt those superfoods coursing through my body at lightning speed – and I only wanted more!  I’m still a novice though, and my concoctions can be a bit odd tasting.  I mean, isn’t that how “good for you” is supposed to taste? I knew I could do better and so began my quest for the perfect tasting smoothie.

On my journey, I came across this piece from Now, I’m not ashamed of my obsession – I rejoice in it. It’s life-saving!

Smoothies change lives. Really.

Now, we’re not referring to those milkshake-like monstrosities that are basically like dessert and contain sweetened fruit juice, sugar, and even ice cream (those are nice for a once-in-awhile treat, not breakfast), but rather whole foods smoothies that are full of fruit and vegetable (and nutty) goodness.

A recent documentary, Powered by Green Smoothies, featured five runners and five CrossFitters who were put on a green smoothie drinking regimen and reaped the benefits. Of course, smoothies alone won’t fix a poor diet, but they can make a good addition to a healthy diet, and they found that for people who may not be consuming enough fruits and vegetables (most people) they may be helpful in upping fruit and vegetable intake. So, why not consider adding smoothies to what you eat? Read on for some ways smoothies can change your life, and also get some new recipes!

1. Energy, Especially for Athletes

One finding of the athletes in Powered by Green Smoothies was that adding the smoothies to their diet seemed to increase their energy, decrease recovery time, and also lead to fewer aches and pains. For example, one athlete found that after running a 100-mile race, he was able to recover in just 10 days, rather than his usual month. Theories that RDs (registered dietitians) put out were that the vitamins and minerals in the smoothies helped lower inflammation and therefore decrease soreness and that the boost in carbohydrates and calories made a big difference to the athletes, who burn through a lot of calories and may not have an adequate calorie or carb intake. Bottom line? If you’re an athlete, it seems you may benefit from incorporating smoothies into your diet, especially if you’re not getting enough calories or fruits and vegetables. Check out this beginner’s guide to green smoothies here!

2. More Fruits and Vegetables

Fewer than a quarter of Americans get enough fruits and vegetables, despite the USDA’s recommendations of at least five servings per day. With a smoothie, you can easily incorporate 1-2 cups of greens and 1-1.5 cups of fruit – and it’s a fast and easy way to eat your fruits and vegetables! Find more information and recipes here, and check out The Ultimate Green Smoothie Cheat Sheet.

3. Fiber

Fiber is an important part of any diet. It prevents constipation, lowers cholesterol and makes you feel full longer. In juice, the fiber has been removed. However, since a smoothie is just blended fruits and vegetables, smoothies still contain valuable fiber!

4. Antioxidants

Antioxidants may prevent or delay cell damage, and fruits and vegetables offer rich sources of them. High-level doses in supplements may cause damage, so it’s best to get your antioxidants from whole foods. You can pack plenty of vegetables and fruits and therefore antioxidants into your smoothies. Berries have been shown to be particularly high in antioxidants, so try this blueberry acai super smoothie.

5. Get Lots of Nutrients at Once

Because they’re blended, smoothies provide more Nutrition Supplements than you could otherwise get in one sitting a whole lot of fruits and vegetables (without the chewing, too!).

6. More Fun (For You and the Kids)

Smoothies, with their creamy, milkshake-like texture, may satiate us more than other whole foods, and are more fun to make and eat – especially for the kids! You might not be able to get your kids to eat a big bowl of kale, but sneak it into a berry smoothie, and they probably won’t even notice! If you don’t normally drink green smoothies, try starting off by incorporating just a little bit of greens with a lot of fruit, and increasing the amount you add each time you make the smoothie – you won’t even notice the difference. Check out The “Doesn’t Taste Green” smoothie.

7. Add-Ins for Extra Nutrients!

Last but not least, the extra additions you include in your smoothie (beyond the basic liquid, fruit, and vegetable components) can make all the difference. Optimize the nutrient factor of your smoothie with your add-ins, by including vitamin E-containing nuts and seeds (or all-natural nut butter), which prevents cell damage that leads to heart disease and cancer. Add pumpkin or sweet potato in place of banana for a similar creamy texture and a good dose of carotenoids, which decrease the risk of eye disease. Finally, adding spices like ginger and cinnamon can provide antioxidants and other health benefits. For a healthy dose of all these add-ins, try this pumpkin pie smoothie, which contains pumpkin and spices – and top it off with some crushed pumpkin seeds!

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Mindful Parenting? STOP

Mindful Parenting

The 5 Main Tenets of Mindful Parenting By Lisa Kring

Mindfulness is the capacity to be fully present with one’s actual, moment-to-moment experience as it is arising, with kind attention, without the mind trying to make it different. More often than not, we are on “automatic pilot,” mindlessly driven by mental patterns, preoccupied with a future that never quite arrives and a past that is no longer happening. As a result, we often feel stressed, anxious, depressed out of sync, and exhausted. Mindfulness meditation practices help to restore and strengthen the body/mind connection from within, at the moment, increasing health and well-being, regardless of external conditions.

As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our children is the gift of our full presence, in the moment. This is the deep intention and invitation for parents as they make space for mindfulness practice in their lives. Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and fundamentally to ourselves.
As we become more aware of our own deepest needs through practice, mindful parenting also involves decoding and addressing the deeper needs of our children, rather than getting mindlessly caught up in and reactive to surface behaviors. Therefore, the cultivation of self-compassion/love, healthy self-acceptance and self-awareness are essential components of skillful and effective mindful parenting. Mindful parenting involves the “inner work” of coming home to oneself as an authentic human being for the benefit of all. As parents learn to open and “come home” more and more of their unique wholeness, letting go of unrealistic expectations, they are more available for their children, seeing and loving them more and more as they really are. Through both daily formal and informal practices, mindful parenting focuses on managing strong emotions, reactivity, and stress, improving mindful communication, honoring sovereignty, recognizing and actively reshaping one’s maladaptive mental patterns, as well as cultivating compassion, lovingkindness, and self-care.

Here are five main tenets of mindful parenting:

1. Make space for just being, every day

Our lives are only lived in moments. Mindful parenting depends on being more present, so establishing a daily mindfulness practice is considered key. Simply sit for 5-30 minutes every day, at the same time and place, bringing awareness to the breath in the body as a natural, physical, felt experience. When the mind wanders (which it will!), don’t make it a problem. Simply notice when this happens, let go of that “train” of thought, and gently bring your awareness back to the anchor of the breath in the body, again and again. Being present requires maintaining the mind/body connection, in awareness. Research shows that “mind wandering,” i.e. when our mind is caught up in thoughts of the future or past, separated from what is really happening in the body, our health and well-being are compromised. So, it is so important to just be, at the moment, as you truly are. We tend to abandon ourselves all day long, through activity, distractions, pressures, and demands, mindlessly driven. The greatest gift we can give our children is our full presence. We must begin with ourselves first. Being present, and modeling this capacity for your children, is priceless.

2. Mindfully manage your stress

As parents, we are often living our lives running on empty, over-scheduled, in a constant state of low-grade stress. As a result, we rarely bring our “best selves” to the interactions with our children. As the mind/body connection becomes strengthened through mindfulness practice, it becomes possible to actively track and notice stress or imbalance in the body/mind, for any reason, as we are going about our day. We can actually shift from a mindlessly reactive and stressed mode to a mindfully responsive mode by using the STOP acronym below. You can use this in the carpool lane, getting the kids ready for school, etc…

S- Stop. Whenever you notice stress or imbalance, simply pause in awareness.

T- Take a breath. Simply bring your awareness into the breathing body, just letting the sensations of the breath move into the forefront. Also, notice how your mind begins to settle a bit, bringing more clarity. Breath awareness actually harmonizes the cardiovascular systems in the body, while also calming the “alarm” centers in the more primitive parts of the brain, restoring full brain function. When we are stressed, we can’t think clearly or see any situation accurately.

O- Observe. Just notice how the breath begins to naturally bring balance to the systems of the body. Let this be felt. Also, look around. What is really happening, at the moment?

P- Proceed. Having shifted to a more mindfully responsive mode, take an action that is more skillful, appropriate and best attuned to your situation.

3. Embrace the model of the “good enough’ parent

Often, we are often holding ourselves to too high a standard, striving to be the “perfect” parent. Mindful parenting embraces the reality and wisdom of the “good enough” parent, acknowledging that regardless of our best intentions, moments of imperfection and failure are unavoidable. So, as parents, how we navigate these moments is an important aspect of mindful parenting. Our children need us to fail, at times, otherwise, they cannot separate from us developmentally. Also, if we try to deny this reality, our children are not given an authentic model of what it is to be human, warts and all. When these inevitable moments of imperfection and failure occur, they become opportunities for compassion, learning, repair, forgiveness, humor, honesty, and kindness. It goes without saying that this needs to be conveyed in developmentally appropriate ways.

4. Honor your children’s sovereignty

Basically, what all children truly need is to be seen and known, as they really are, separate from their parents. It is therefore crucial that we establish healthy boundaries between ourselves and our children, allowing for clear seeing and knowing. Honoring our children’s sovereignty is not about giving them unbridled freedom or too many choices. It is about bringing more awareness to our own unmet needs, agendas, issues, unfinished business, and thwarted dreams. Otherwise, they all too easily get projected onto our children. This points to the “inner work” of mindful parenting, and our ability to hold all of this as separate in awareness. We need to take responsibility for what is unfinished in us, rather than burdening our children. Can we truly see, value and love our children as they really are, different and quite separate from us? Many parent/child conflicts involve a lack of clear boundaries and emotional separation on the parent’s part. What they need and what we need, can often be at odds. The idea is to learn to acknowledge and address all these needs with more skill, understanding and grace in mindful awareness.

5. Cultivate kindness and compassion

Nothing is more humbling, more challenging and more heartbreaking than parenting. There is no quitting and no hiding and no “finish line.” Therefore, as an act of self-preservation, we must actively cultivate kindness and compassion in the moment, mostly for ourselves. More often than not, our children get the best of us, and we can be left feeling empty and resentful. Mindfulness practice is often referred to as an act of “self-love” or ongoing “self-parenting.”

Often, we are looking outside of ourselves for love, approval and care. But, through mindfulness practice, we can come home to ourselves, getting on our own best side, attending to our own needs in a way that only we can do for ourselves. Parenting can be so hard, so the intention is to not make it worse. We learn to let go of unrealistic expectations, to love and accept ourselves more and more as we really are, finding more and more wholeness. Our children are in need of our unconditional love. But, we cannot give what we do not possess.

Therefore, we must begin first with ourselves, experiencing more and more kindness, compassion and self-acceptance. As a result, this begins to naturally flow to our children, more and more.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women’s conference, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power,” which took place in New York on June 6, 2013.

Sustainable Furniture: What Do I Look For?

Sustainable Furniture

While we now opt often for greener cars, appliances, household cleaners, and food to up the sustainability quotient of our lifestyles, the furniture we spend all day and night in close contact with is often far from eco-friendly. The vast majority of sofas, chairs, beds, and other upholstered furniture we love to lounge on contain potentially carcinogenic formaldehyde and/or toxic flame retardants and stain resistors that have been linked to developmental and hormonal maladies. And much of the wood used in desks, chairs, tables, and the like (as well as in the frames of upholstered furniture) comes from unsustainably harvested lumber which contributes to the deforestation of tropical rainforests.

But today, thanks to increased consumer awareness and demand, there are more “green” choices in the furniture available than ever before. A good place to start the search for that perfect couch or chair is the website of the Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC), a non-profit formed in 2006 to help develop solid standards and certification processes within the home furnishings industry. The organization has become a leading information source and network of some 400 “green” furniture makers and related retailers, suppliers, and designers as well as other non-profits. Consumers looking for greener furniture can browse SFC’s membership list which features contact information and website links accordingly. Buyers beware: Just because a furniture maker is listed with SFC doesn’t mean it eschews all chemicals or unsustainably harvested wood entirely, but only that it is making strides in that direction. Consumers should still be knowledgeable about which green features they are looking for and/or which kinds of materials to avoid.


Of course, with something like furniture you really need to see and feel it in order to decide whether it will work in your space. Eco-conscious consumers making the rounds at local furniture stores should keep a few key questions in mind for salespersons. Does the piece in question contain formaldehyde, flame retardants, or stain-resistant sprays? Is the fabric used certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard program (GOTS, which mandates that at least 70 percent of fibers are derived from organic sources and do not contain chemical dyes or other additives)? Is the wood used Organic Gots Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as sustainably harvested? Does the piece contain any parts or pieces that come from bamboo or reclaimed wood or recycled metal or plastic? And is it easy to disassemble into reusable or recyclable parts if it needs to be replaced down the line?

If the salesperson doesn’t know the answers, chances are the piece does not pass environmental muster. Limiting your search to brick-and-mortar and Internet-based retailers that specialize in green products is one way to reduce the amount of research and self-education needed, especially because salespersons in such stores are usually up-to-speed on the latest and greatest in sustainable furnishings. Some leading national furniture chains that carry a sizeable inventory of sustainable goods include Crate and Barrel, Room and Board, and West Elm, but many more single-store eco-friendly furniture stores exist across the country. Some leading online green furniture retailers include Eco-Friendly Modern Living, Furniture, InMod, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, SmartDeco, Southcote, and Viesso.

CONTACTS: SFC,; FSC,; GOTS,; Eco-Friendly Modern Living,; Furnature,; InMod,; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams,; SmartDeco,; Southcone,; Viesso,

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (

Can You Live Your Truth? Master Mindful Living

Master Mindful Living


How To Live Your Truth: Identifying Your Values & Mastering Mindful Living?

Do you know what the most common regret people express on their deathbed is? It’s “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

This blog post is about how not to have that regret on your deathbed.
So, what stops people from living a life that’s true to them?
Two things.

The first thing that stops people from living a life that’s true to them is the fact that they never defined or got clear on what’s true to them. They never got clear on what their own deepest values are and what’s meaningful to them.

When we feel out of touch with the deepest and truest part of ourselves, it’s all too common to fall into just following societal norms and values (which are often very different from your own) or we submit to doing what our loved ones want us to do (often in an attempt to get them to like/approve of us) instead of what we really want to do. Sound familiar?

“‘Cheshire Cat,’ asked Alice. ‘Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?’ ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to go,’ said the Cat. ‘I don’t much care where,’ said Alice. ‘Then it doesn’t matter where you go,’ said the Cat.” –Lewis Carrol

The second thing that stops people from living their truth is a lack of awareness. A lack of mindfulness. Without mindfulness, we tend to live much of our lives on ‘autopilot’ and when we’re on autopilot we often fall into conditioned, mechanical patterns of thought and behavior… most of which we did not consciously choose, and most of which were handed down to us from our culture and upbringing. Living in unawareness like this leads to a sense of discontent and disconnection from ourselves.

Mindfulness means waking up out of autopilot and connecting deeply with ourselves and our lives. It’s the ‘art of conscious living’ as Jon Kabat-Zinn likes to say. Mindfulness gives us the capacity not only to ‘listen to our hearts and to stay in touch with what’s meaningful to us, but it also gives us the ability to respond (from our values) and not to react (from old conditioning).

In other words, mindfulness is needed in order to LIVE your values on a daily basis.

What Are Values & Why Are They So Important?

We all have values they are as much a part of us as our blood types or our genetic makeup. They are as unique to us as our individual thumbprints. Our core values determine what’s really important and meaningful to us.
Values are who you are in your own deepest nature, not who you think you should be in order to fit in. They’re like a compass that points us to our “true north.”

When the way you think, speak and behave matches your values, life feels very good you feel whole, content, and in your power. But when these don’t align with your personal values, then things feel… wrong. Life feels uneasy. You feel out of touch, discontented, restless, and unhappy.

As you can see from the number one regret of the dying, there is a steep price to pay for not living according to ‘what’s true to you.’ When life feels ‘wrong’ many people try to ‘fill up’ through external pleasuring or they may try numbing or distracting themselves by keeping busy… but until you come back to living your truth until you come back to this internal homeostasis of balance and ease, those efforts to ‘fix’ things externally will be futile.

This is why making a conscious effort to identify and live your values is so vitally important.

Here is a simple six-step process to help you identify your own core values…

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one that you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
–Joseph Campbell

How To Discover Your Core Values in Six Simple Steps…
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


Let’s start off with an exercise to help you clearly identify your core values. Grab a pen and paper or perhaps you can choose to take notes on your computer or device.

Can you recall a moment where you felt totally yourself? A peak moment of life when you were in your element when everything just felt… aligned? A moment when you felt happy and fulfilled? Take some time to recall this peak moment. When you’re ready, take some notes describing this peak moment in some detail.

For example, here is one of my own recent peak moments:

I had been teaching a retreat for four days and we (there were 40 of us altogether) were doing a ‘closing circle’ since the retreat was coming to an end. As people began to share one by one, they really opened their hearts and shared very intimate stories, spoke of personal breakthroughs and deep insights into the human condition. There was a real sense of love, tenderness, and camaraderie in the room. There were tears of laughter and tears of joy… we all ended up crying together! It felt so intimate, real, and deeply connecting. I felt like I was doing exactly what I should be doing.
Once you’ve written down a peak experience of your own then…


Ok, now that you have your peak experience written down, think about what values were being expressed and felt in that moment. What was important to you about this moment that made it so special?

From the moment I described above, I can extract that I value:

  • Love and connection
  • Working with people to help them suffer less and be happier (Contribution)
  • Being open, vulnerable, and authentic
  • Feelings of courage and strength
  • Vitality is a deep sense of aliveness

So now jot down a couple of things from your peak moment. Got them?


Pick one or two values that you’ve identified as most important to you. Write them down on your paper.

Out of the five values identified above, I feel like ‘contribution’ is the one that is most important to me in my life. A close second would be ‘love.’


Now write a little bit about what your chosen value (or values) means to you. Different words mean different things to different people so it’s important to define what this value means to YOU in your life.

To me ‘contribution’ essentially means that I am being kind and caring… I am expressing the love in my heart. I am helping the world to become more peaceful, happy, healthy, and in harmony. Contribution is an outward flow from my innate feelings of love towards life. The value of ‘love’ is very closely related but subtly different to me. Love as mentioned above means to me that I am feeling a deep sense of connection with another being or with life at that moment.

Write what your values mean to you, and then…

Choose a value name that feels right to YOU. As I said, different words can mean different things to people so it’s important to define how this word is meaningful to you.

For instance, the word contribution to me is only meaningful if I am truly expressing my innate love for life.

I wouldn’t feel I was expressing my value of contribution if I were doing someone a favor, for example, but doing it begrudgingly. To me, it always has to have genuine loving energy behind it. Contribution to me is active. Another word for contribution, in the way I mean it, could be ‘kindness.’ In fact, I feel that word fits better for me so I am going to name this value ‘kindness.’

Also perhaps to someone else ‘love’ would mean romantic love or it might mean speaking and acting in certain ways. My personal value of love means to me that I am experiencing and expressing feelings of connection and intimacy with a being or with life. So ‘love’ is my second value name.
What are yours? Jot them down.


Now that you have one or two values you can now repeat steps 1 to 5 until you have a set of 5 to 7 values. We call this your set of core values. You may notice the same ones coming up again and again and that’s fine. See though, if you can explore the new ones that come up as you go through the steps again until you have your core 5 to 7.

Next week we’ll talk about how to LIVE your values in daily life (the most important part!) so stay tuned for that. But one more thing I’d like to make clear about values before we go.

The Difference Between Values and Goals

There is an important distinction that needs to be made between values and goals.

Values provide a deep sense of ongoing direction for our lives they are not ends in themselves. Goals are things that we want to achieve or do – they often end in themselves. Values always exist in the present moment… they can be drawn on at any given moment. Goals are in the future.

Values Are Not Rules Or Commandments

Some spiritual traditions tell people what they should value and how they should act but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Values, in the way we speak of them here, are freely chosen by YOU. Your true values are not imposed on you from external sources. They come from listening to your heart and tuning in to what matters the most to YOU.

In order to live a life that is true to you, you must be willing to be completely honest with yourself about what you value most in life.
Values are not rules or commandments and they’re best held lightly. They don’t need to become rigid or static. Values may take new forms and change and develop over time.

Now you know what your values are. In the next post, I’ll give you two powerful mindfulness-based practices to help you live your values in daily life. See you then!

Of course, as always, please let me know if you have questions and comments in the comments section below. I’d love to hear how you go with it

With warmth,
PS. Read Part 2 of the series here.

How Can I Avoid Non GMO Foods?

Non GMO Foods

Non-GMO foods: How to Avoid GMOs (for real)

In the U.S., GMOs are everywhere in our supply chain. According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 75-80% of all conventional, processed foods contain some form of GMOs. In this post, I’ll tell you how to avoid GMOs and find non-GMO varieties.

First, a bit of background

GMOs are plant or meat products with DNA artificially altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, resulting in foreign compounds found in these foods. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature and hasn’t been studied extensively.
In this post, I’m not going to argue the merits of going non-GMO or GMO-free. Some believe that GMOs help to feed world hunger. Some people disagree with this theory. If you want to read up more on the GMO studies, here is a list of past studies and this appears to be the most recent study. Finally, here are some peer-reviewed studies that link GMOs to increased allergies, organ toxicity, hormonal disruption, and other health problems.
Bottom line, if you chose to consume GMOs, that’s your prerogative. Our family still ingests them occasionally since we like to go out to eat once a week or so. Having said that, we make lifestyle accommodations so that we can consume mostly organic, GMO-free food. There’s enough evidence for me to avoid these guys as much as possible.

Going non-GMO ain’t easy

This post is a response to the concerned mamas who watched this video about GMOs in surprising places. And the truth is, it takes a lot of sleuthing to figure out what is truly non-GMO.

Do you know that USDA Certified Organic symbol? Sorry, it’s not fail-proof.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that’s responsible for organic certification allows up to 5% by weight of remaining ingredients to be part of their USDA’s National List which gives some wiggle room for GMO contamination. They can make exceptions due to pressure from powerful pro-GMO lobbyist groups and companies who want that organic certification without adhering to the strict guidelines.

Organic is big business, and money corrupts the process.

But I digress… let’s get down to brass tacks.

How do avoid GMOs and Find non-GMO sources?

Buy food labeled “100% organic” or labeled by the 3rd party non-GMO project. These are the ONLY labels that legally guarantee food is 100% non-GMO.

Buy meat that says the animals were fed 100% organically fed or grass-fed/finished. Or better yet, find a local farmer here and buy your products closer to the source. Be sure to ask them if they’re committed to producing NON-GMO Products.

Buy 100% organic eggs that state “from 100% organic feed.” Safe grocery store brands include Organic Valley, Eggland’s Best, and Land O’ Lakes Organic eggs.

Buy 100% organic dairy products (grass-fed is even better) or European products from Switzerland and Greece (100% non-GMO) and France (mostly non-GMO). You can see a global GMO-free map here. Kalona Farms, Organic Valley, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods’ 365 Brand are safe brands.

Shop at farmer’s markets and remember that most produce is safe non-GMO, even conventional varieties, with the exception of corn, radicchio, beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, and yellow summer squash.

Organic whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are safe. One caveat… conventional RICE has been contaminated with GMOs. Buy organic rice only… safe brands include Lotus and Lundberg.

Keep eating out to a minimum.

Avoid processed and packaged foods/beverages that are not non-GMO.
Non-GMO on a budget?

Buy lots of fruits and veggies… even conventional produce is pretty safe from GMOs with the exception of corn, beets, zucchini, summer squash, radicchio, and Hawaiian papaya.

Buy organic grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds from bulk sections or online Stores.

Invest in good quality, 100% organic butter, eggs, and whole chickens. These are less expensive and go the distance. For example, use the chicken carcass for broth. Also, buy cheaper cuts of organic meat like chuck roasts, shanks, etc., and use bones for broth.

Eat more gelatin. Either from organic-fed animals or from this source. Soup bones such as oxtail, shanks, necks, backs, and feet are cheaper than muscle meat and are just as nutrient dense.

Buy cases of coconuts from local Asian grocery stores. Use the juice, pulp, and fat for a variety of recipes including this one and this one. You can also buy a gallon of coconut oil at bulk prices.

Grow your own food! Here’s a resource for non-GMO, safe seeds since many are contaminated with GMO strains (thank you Monsanto!) Guaranteed Offenders:

Most conventional processed foods.

Any conventional product that contains sugar… nearly all sugar in the U.S. is derived from GMO sugar beets. This means “no” to anything with ingredients labeled: sugar, fructose, dextrose, glucose, caramel color, mannitol, maltodextrin, etc. Fortunately, you’re safe if ingredients are listed as 100% sugar cane, evaporated cane juice, or organic sugar. That’s because the sugar cane plant is more complicated to genetically modify. But, Monsanto expects to have a Roundup Ready/Bt variety on the market by 2015 Beware of inexpensive or highly processed honey because the bees could have feasted on GMO vegetation.

Any conventional product containing soy or derivatives. This includes their oils and by-products like soy lecithin, protein, isolate, and isoflavone, as well as, tofu, tempeh, and soybean oil. This would include most vitamin E supplements which are derived from soybean oil.

Any conventional product containing corn. This includes conventional corn muffins, fresh corn, high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, and corn starch products like infant formula and Cheerios, foods commonly given to babies and toddlers. Vitamin C supplements in the form of corn-based ascorbic acid can contain GMOs.

Any conventional dairy, eggs, chicken, beef, pork, or other animal products. These animals’ diets contain GMO corn/soy. Also be sure your dairy is free of rBGH, a Monsanto genetically-engineered growth hormone that forces cows to artificially increase milk production by 10 to 15 percent. Even dairy products that are listed as “rBGH-free” can contain GMOs because, again, the animals feed on GMO grain. Organic Valley, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods Brand dairy are both rBGH and GMO-free. Keep in mind that some vitamin B12 supplements use GMO microorganisms.

Farmed-raised fish/seafood because they most likely are fed GMO meal. This would include salmon, trout, carp, cod, turbot, halibut, shrimp, and tilapia. Be sure to purchase only “wild caught.”

Canola/rapeseed oils. Canola is a modified “food” derived from the rapeseed. Ever heard of mustard gas? Yeah, it’s part of the same family. Over 80% of the Canola/rapeseed in the US has been genetically modified and it’s better suited as an industrial product than food.

Aspartame… not only is it a neurotoxin but it’s also created using a genetically modified bacteria strain.

Alfalfa. Even organic alfalfa is at risk of cross-contamination with the GMO crop. Unfortunately, the USDA didn’t think this was a big deal.

Conventional cotton, particularly from India and China. This includes processed foods that contain cottonseed oil.

Surprising “safe” (non-GMO) foods:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat

While Monsanto flirted with GMO tomatoes and potatoes, they weren’t popular due to their bad taste and susceptibility to spoilage. For now, these foods are relatively safe. Of course, organic is better to be sure.

Wheat is often lumped into the GMO category, but the truth is there hasn’t been a successful attempt to make GMO wheat. While many are allergic to our highly tampered wheat crop today, it’s due to the high levels of gluten and starch, not GMOs.

What about eating out?

Not easy to avoid GMOs when eating out, unless you go to a place committed to serving local, organic foods.

The oils are the biggest problem since most restaurants use cheap corn, soy, or canola oils. Keep in mind that while these GMO oils contain harmful GMO-derived toxins, they don’t contain the more harmful DNA and proteins found in the actual pure corn or soy products.

Try to find restaurants that make food from scratch. Italian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean restaurants are safest due to their reliance on olive oil.

Some non-GMO safe bets at most restaurants:

  • Vegetable plate (sans zucchini/summer squash)
  • Fruit and cheese plate (if dairy is imported)
  • Baked potatoes. Use olive oil to top with versus dairy products since they’ll most likely contain GMOs.
  • Most salads if you bring your own dressing or if the restaurant uses real olive oil.
  • Nuts and seed dishes like hummus, nut butter, peanut sauces, etc.
  • Wild seafood/fish
  • New Zealand or Australian lamb since they are usually grass-fed
  • Pasta dish with fresh vegetables and olive oil/herbs

Are You Making Mindful Decisions?

Making Mindful Decisions

“We will all continue to be put in situations where we have to make challenging and important decisions. We should choose to celebrate it as an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve into the person we aspire to become”

We make hundreds of decisions a day. Some are seemingly small and insignificant, while others can be life-changing. How can we know we are making the best mindful decisions?

Michelle Maidenberg

6 Tips For Making BEST Mindful Decisions

Wouldn’t it be nice if making mindful decisions were as easy as deciding what fruit we want to eat on a given day? Most decisions that we make aren’t black and white and leave us with strong, powerful and at times uncomfortable emotions.

We are all constantly making important decisions. Patients I work with Making Mindful Decisions about whether to file for divorce, what colleges to apply to, and whether or not to leave or stay at their current jobs. As a working mother, I am constantly making mindful decisions that leave me with deeply negative and often disappointed and regretful feelings.

The hardest decision that I ever remember making was the decision to break off my engagement to a person I was deeply in love with and dated for six years. My heart was pulling me in many different directions and all my opposing thoughts could be rationalized. I was left wondering why I wanted to break off a relationship with someone I loved, cared about, and wanted to be with.

My core values of family, loyalty, love, compassion, security/reliability, and perseverance were directly in opposition with my other core values surrounding self-preservation, personal growth, self-respect/integrity, consistency, responsibility, ambition, and education. I expected that in order to make the “right” decision I needed to feel fully confident in the position I was choosing to take and that all my feelings needed to be aligned with that position. I learned that making the decision was not contingent upon whether or not I was feeling “okay” with it.

I had the responsibility to fully evaluate my alternative choices and thoughtfully decide that under my set of circumstances, I was making the best Making Mindful Decisions for me and which would inevitably allow me to be my best me. I had no choice but to confront the array of lingering feelings that were naturally associated with loss and transition. It was pain that I was fully expecting and chose to take on, for the betterment of my future and who I chose to evolve into.

Most individuals of varied age groups that I work with report that it is often difficult for them to make decisions because they have to give up a degree of control (an attribute of our humanness) and are in fear of making a poor decision and being deemed or reinforced that they are a failure (there are failed decisions, not failed individuals), and are stressed because of the thinking that the decision will have negative rippling/residual effects that they will not be able to reconcile (most often it is not the case even though our mind catastrophizes and convinces us it is).

There is a good reason for concern and discomfort. There are rarely decisions made that are without residual feelings of uncertainty, guilt, and regret. Challenging decisions generally come up because there are two core values underlining the decisions that are in opposition to one another. The responsibility lies in our identifying values, effective problem solving, and balancing out the emotional and intellectual variables.

When challenging decision making comes up, consider:

(1) That rather than thinking about it dichotomously or as a right or wrong decision, consider what the “best” decision is under the circumstances. Thinking about it in absolutes evokes fear and anxiety. Most people prolong making a decision or experience decision making as dreaded because they fear the “devastating” consequences attached to a “wrong”, “failed” and “bad” decision. All decisions have a redeeming value and could be an impetus for learning, growing, and reconsideration. Few if any decisions lead to dire consequences even though our mind tells us to believe it is so.

(2) Break down the decision by the core values that are operating for you so that you can see why that position is so meaningful to you. You can use this while helping someone else to work through a challenge or as a parent you can use this with your children to teach them to effectively problem solve and identify the values that will drive their behaviors. This is a valuable lesson to obtain early in life.

(3) There is pain and discomfort in values and values in pain and discomfort. Your values are your guiding principles and represent who you are and what is meaningful to you. They guide your actions. There are deep emotions attached to these values and when you feel that they are being compromised you are bound to be uncomfortable.

Ask yourself, would you truly want to be “okay” when these get challenged (e.g., if you see someone cutting a line that you have been waiting on, you become enraged because it rubs against your value of fairness and justice, of course, you wouldn’t want to be okay with their unjust behavior, but you also have the choice whether to physically accost the person because of their behavior or assertively and respectfully ask them to move to the end of the line).

(4) Thoughtfully problem solve and balance out both the emotional and intellectual variables. Some of us are more emotionally driven and some of us are more intellectually driven. Make an effort to counterbalance in the direction you tend to be less drawn to.

(5) Make attempts to expand the way you look at things and ask yourself, “What else can I consider?” or “Is there anything else here that I’m not fully considering?” We sometimes get stuck on our own values and principles without considering those of others. We often need to make an effort to be open and expansive.

(6) In order to fully process your decision and problem solve, consider trying this exercise. Draw a square with four quadrants. List what the advantages and disadvantages are for each of the quadrants. Go quadrant by quadrant starting from left to right first concentrating on the top and then making your way to the bottom. After all four are complete, stipulate on a scale from 1-5 how important each item on each quadrant is for you.
Add up the numbers on the diagonal quadrants (e.g., advantages of changing jobs and disadvantages of changing jobs versus advantages of not changing jobs and disadvantages of not changing jobs).

Compare the two sets of numbers and discuss which was greater. If the numbers are close think about why you are so split. For both positions, contemplate whether values would be able to be maintained if you remained in that situation. Also, go back to considering which values are more prominent in this circumstance and what decision will allow you to be your best you.

Traditional problem-solving methods include defining the decision, analyzing it, developing alternatives, selecting the best solution, implementing the solution, analyzing the results, and learning from them. By identifying your core values and processing and problem-solving them, you can make the “best” decisions but it may not be free of emotional discomfort. Making decisions can be challenging without the residual struggle and dread attached to it.

It’s been 21 years since I made the decision which I spoke about. There is still an emotionally attached to it. No regret, but contemplation and a bit of nostalgic sadness. I learned so much from that experience and appreciate that I had the opportunity to “fail.” I have gained a clearer understanding of what my values are with the awareness that they may evolve and change over time. It has to lead me in the direction of where I had wanted to go and who I became.

We will all continue to be put in situations where we have to make challenging and important decisions. We should choose to celebrate it as an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve into the person we aspire to become.

Want To Lose Weight? Open Your Heart To Mindful Eating

I’m a self-proclaimed, world-class “speed eater”- a habit I’m not proud of and I’m working on it. When it comes to weight loss. . .well, let’s just say the speed at which I eat does little for my waistline, and it’s not only how fast I eat – it’s the how, when, and where. If you want to go from mindless to mindful, this article is a great reminder of how important it is to press the “pause” button. Remember, it’s not a matter of self-will, it’s a matter of self-compassion!

Open your heart to mindful eating

Strategies that cultivate self-awareness and compassion may help you lose weight and keep it off.

Image: © Dean Mitchell/Getty Images

Of all the recommendations for preventing heart disease, maintaining a healthy weight tops the list. Excess weight can raise your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol values, all of which harm the heart. But with about one in three Americans now overweight or obese, weight loss clearly remains a stubbornly elusive goal for many people.

One strategy that’s gained traction in recent years is to focus less on what you eat and more on how and why you eat. How? Practicing mindfulness, which teaches you to focus on the present moment, while peacefully acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts and the sensations in your body. Granted, that may sound a bit touchy-feely. But a review of a dozen studies, published in the March 2018 Current Obesity Reports, concluded that there is strong support for including mindful eating practices in weight management programs.

Why mindfulness matters

One of the main benefits of mindfulness approaches for weight loss is to help people recognize emotional eating, says mindfulness expert Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “Very few of us eat solely based on hunger cues. We also eat to soothe anxiety, sadness, or irritation,” he says. That’s a recipe for mindless eating: you’re operating on automatic pilot, without paying attention to how you really feel, emotionally or physically.

Mindfulness practices help you notice these common patterns, which are similar to what happens with many types of addiction, says Dr. Siegel. Most human behaviors are based on conditioned patterns of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Those behaviors we refer to as addictions have good short-term consequences (the pleasure of eating a piece of chocolate cake) but bad long-term consequences (becoming overweight).

Notice your cravings

People with addictive behaviors are prone to what addiction expert G. Alan Marlatt called the abstinence violation effect. For example, you might have a plan to eat healthfully, but then you see a chocolate cake. “You break down and eat a piece, but then feel so horrible about your lack of self-control that you feel a desperate need to self-soothe and end up eating the rest of the cake,” says Dr. Siegel.

Once you become aware of these patterns, the next step is finding a way to cope with cravings. Simply avoiding tempting foods is difficult, because tasty treats are widely available nearly everywhere you go. Mindfulness can help you notice the craving and recognize that you can deal with the discomfort, which may be accentuated by unhappy emotions. By turning your attention to those feelings and practicing self-awareness, you can see that the feelings come and go. “Urges and cravings come in waves, and we can ride them out,” says Dr. Siegel.

Self-acceptance and defusion

Another aspect of mindfulness training is self-acceptance. If you do give in to a craving, forgive yourself and move on. “None of us is perfect you don’t have to torture yourself,” Dr. Siegel says. Four of the 12 studies in the recent review article focused on acceptance-based behavior training, which relies on mindfulness strategies to identify emotions rather than avoid them.

In one small study of people with heart disease, participants were encouraged to recognize that eating healthfully and exercising is really challenging and that pretending that it doesn’t just make it all the more distressing. Instead, they were taught a practice called defusion, in which you distance yourself from unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. This helped them tolerate the distress of trying to make heart-healthy behavior changes. Participants gave high marks to the program and made positive changes in their diet and exercise habits.

Among the other promising strategies noted in the review were various types of mindfulness meditation, such as an eating-focused practice in which people were taught to acknowledge their hunger levels, emotions, thoughts, motivations, and eating environment with acceptance but without judgment. The practice was most effective when combined with self-compassion, which involved repeating phrases of goodwill and benevolence for oneself and others.

Getting started: Mindfulness training

If you’re trying to lose weight and struggling with mindless eating, you can get started with some simple tips (see “How to practice mindful eating”). The Center for Mindful Eating ( has more in-depth information, including free mindful eating meditations, newsletters, webinars, and teleconferences. You may be able to find in-person coaching as well, as growing numbers of nutritionists and programs ranging from spiritual retreat centers to hospitals and medical centers offer instruction in the technique.

How to practice mindful eating

Eating while you’re busy doing other things watching TV, scrolling through your email, or reading the newspaper robs you of the chance to enjoy your food fully. You may not feel satisfied and simply keep eating, even if you’re not actually hungry.

Here are some tips for eating more mindfully:

    • Sit in a pleasant, calm environment with no distractions, with the exception of your meal companions.

    • Ponder what it took to produce your meal, from the sun’s rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.

    • Try eating with your non-dominant hand; if you’re a righty, hold your fork in your left hand when lifting food to your mouth.

    • Set a timer for 20 minutes and pace yourself so you spend at least that much time eating.

    • Put your utensil down between bites.

    • Take small bites and chew them well, noticing the different flavors and textures of each mouthful.

  • Before you help yourself to seconds or dessert, pause and take time to consider whether you’re actually hungry.

Harvard Health 

Want More Peace? Teach Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself!

With so many ways to interact with our world, why do we often feel isolated and uneasy? We get anxious when people don’t respond to our texts right away. We see a post on social media and suddenly we’re lamenting what’s missing in our life.  Just as the comparison is “the thief of joy” our personal tech devices might just be today’s “thief of health.” Try following these simple guidelines to make peace with your tech. Your mind and body will thank you.

Teach Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself!

By Mark BertinMay 17, 2018

Once upon a time, technology served to increase human efficiency and accuracy. Now, between everything we have to attend to on our devices and the countless ways they grab attention, it sometimes feels like our lives aren’t enhanced as much as unsettled by personal devices. When we let technology run rampant, our mental and physical health may suffer.

The Tech Effect

It starts with child development. Studies show that under-monitored screen time potentially disrupts attention, behavior, language, and academics. For teens and adults, smartphones ping and buzz all day and night. Research suggests that being reachable 24/7 escalates stress, interrupts social interaction, and impacts productivity. One study showed that the mere presence of phones visible on the table disrupts conversation.

Social media, for all its potential benefits, has been linked to decreased well-being, increased depression, and escalated jealousy. The ongoing study Monitoring the Future of Teens showed that teens spending more time on screens are more likely to be unhappy than those spending less. Even Facebook and Apple have conceded that social media affects at least some people for the worse.

When it comes to physical health, studies show teenagers today have become as sedentary as the average 60-year-old. Increased screen time has been linked to obesity, using a device (or television) near bedtime to poor sleep. One study correlated increased screen hours with odds of dying young. Strange as that seems, it’s possible that upping your screen time impacts other lifestyle factors, like a healthy diet and exercise, that contribute to a long and healthy life.

It’s Workable

These effects are not directly caused by our gadgets, of course. They reflect how we live, starting with the expectation of constant connection. It’s also our often-unconscious choices about which activities screens replace, their potential to distract from productivity and face-to-face communication, the emotional influence of social media, and more.

It’s important to stay connected through work or socially, but instead of “batching” time online, we interrupt ourselves repeatedly all day. That undermines efficiency and disrupts our downtime. And, unlike with previous innovations (such as, say, the wheel), screen usage is manipulated  by-products and games designed to hook us.

Mindfulness helps us choose how we live with technology. We can elect to remain available for what’s urgent, connect with friends, entertain ourselves…and also value disconnecting for a bit.

Take Stock

Try using a daily calendar and fill in everything you value: time for sleep, work, or school, homework, reading for pleasure, exercise, being outdoors, after-school activities or hobbies, friends, and quiet time. Whatever time is left is the maximum available for a screen.

Another trick is to ask yourself: What percentage of my downtime goes to a screen? While technology seems like the ideal fill-in for daydreaming and boredom, often it is in these idle moments that creativity arises. Apps like “Moment” and “Quality Time” allow us to self-monitor time online.

Set Boundaries

When you’re with other people, including at mealtimes, put away your device. Avoid “phubbing”— dissing strangers by making no eye contact while on your phone. Set personal and family guidelines for situations that are appropriate for texting, games, and watching TV.

Avoid temptation by turning off any unneeded notifications on your devices. When the phone rings or vibrates, practice taking a breath before deciding if it needs immediate attention or if it can wait.

Mindfulness involves being aware of our habits. Catch yourself often, notice how you’re living— and what’s driving your on-screen experience— and then engage in active decision-making.

Phone screen

Intentional Phone Practice

How can we use our phones with more intention? We can start to notice when we’re checking them compulsively, out of FOMO (fear of missing out), or comparing our life to social media’s polished but unreal images. Try this mindful tech practice to make your phone a healthier part of everyday life.

    • Before touching your phone, catch yourself. Each time it rings, pings, or vibrates, first gather your attention. Is it time to check it right now or could it wait? Take a few breaths, focusing on the air moving near your nose and mouth. Then decide what to do next.
    • If you start mindlessly plugging in, catch yourself. How does your body feel, and your facial expression and posture? (A hunched thumb-typing stance may adversely affect your mood.) What do you notice emotionally, and how is it influenced by whatever you’re looking at? Where are your thoughts? Past or future? Comparing and consuming, or engaged and balanced?
  • After time on your phone, catch yourself once more. Take a breath or two. Note whatever is going on and who is around you. At this moment, you can reconnect to real life, in real-time.
This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of Mindful magazine

Manage Your Attention, Not Your Time

Manage Your Attention

With so many stimuli competing for attention, any hope for making it through the day without our brains feeling like scrambled eggs rests on being more conscious of how you parse attention over specific tasks. Here are three ways to keep your focus flowing.

If there is any one ‘secret’ to effectiveness, it is concentration.
-Peter F. Drucker, management philosopher

“At the end of the day, my brain feels like scrambled eggs!” admitted Phil, an attorney at whose firm I teach. He, like many, was living out the effects of what it means to not prioritize attention in the workday. When distractions abound how do you find focus to get something done?

Make Attention a Priority

My previous post explored what attention is and why it’s important to both quality of life and fundamental effectiveness. Attention is the basic resource or energy you have to invest in your experience. You are what you attend to. It’s that simple.

Let’s go “Big Picture” for a moment. Managing attention has not been on our radar screens because until recently most of us took it for granted. Education has largely emphasized skills for thinking and underemphasized, or ignored altogether, the skills of attending, seeing, and perceiving (let alone feeling). Look at what gets cut from school budgets when times are tough: Arts, sports, and music are the domains that cultivate perception, focus, and their relationship to performance. For good or for ill, we are an “I think therefore I am” culture. Given that, it’s easy to see how even the so-called “well-educated” can overlook attention.

A New Way to Think about What “Well-Educated” Means

Management philosopher Peter F. Drucker understood that going forward truly educated (and effective) people “will need trained perception fully as much as analysis.” In a quickly-changing world, effective people will need to clearly see as much as clearly think. The starting point of this is managing attention and focus. So many stimuli compete for attention, any hope for effectiveness rests on being more conscious of how you use it alone and together with others.

This series of posts intends to create the talking points for you to have a conversation with those you work and live with to make a priority around attention. The more you do that, the better able you will be to stay true to your goals, perform toward your best, and engage the world in a meaningful way.

So many stimuli compete for attention, any hope for effectiveness rests on being more conscious of how you use it alone and together with others.

1. Manage Attention Not Time

People tend to think managing time forms the foundation for able action. Even Drucker thought, “Time is an executive’s scarcest and most precious resource.” However, I believe this is a misperception. Who actually can manage time? Can you make the future come faster or return to the past? Unless you’re a sci-fi hero, no. What people actually do in the flow of time is manage attention.

For example, Phil may block off several hours to work on a case, but if he spends those hours obsessing over baseball stats, we say he mismanaged his time. In reality, his attention wasn’t where it needed to be. No one manages time. We manage our attention.

This point may seem like nitpicking, but I believe it is vital because it gives you a lever you can actually pull. What follows are real-life strategies developed by my students and clients that have worked for them.

2. Name Your Priorities

This sounds simple, but I’ve observed that we don’t name them frequently enough. All too often, we allow the momentum of whatever we’ve been doing to make our decisions for us. Habits are great as long as they’re serving our true intentions or a situation’s real needs. Otherwise, we wake up and go through the motions while missing the important things.

So, the first and most essential step is knowing what your intentions are. Ask yourself: “What’s vital for me to put energy on right now”?” or “Is this the best use of my energy?” These questions can help clarify what’s essential. Intentions also help to say “no” to the less important (but perhaps more urgent). Clarifying intentions brings greater direction to investing energy.

Habits are great as long as they’re serving our true intentions or a situation’s real needs. Otherwise, we wake up and go through the motions while missing the important things.
Ask yourself these questions to clarify your priorities:

What are you doing to prioritize your day and develop an action plan when you are inevitably interrupted?
What is okay to say “no” to?
How will you handle interruptions when they arise?
Do you hold an assumption that you must respond to any interruption?
Are you afraid you will be disliked/unloved/fired if you fail to respond immediately to an email?
I’ve consistently found that people have far more latitude in saying no or “later” to incoming requests than they realize.

Priorities apply both to the short- and long-term. In the moment, it means choosing where attention should focus right now. Finish this memo due tomorrow or look-up that Yoda quote you can’t quite recall?

In the long run, where we put our attention is central to a sense of meaning and purpose. Is Phil’s diversion into baseball stats and not writing law briefs a sign that maybe he’s bored with being a lawyer? Is there something else he’d rather be doing?

In the long run, where we put our attention is central to a sense of meaning and purpose.

3. Conduct an Attention Audit to Improve Focus

Knowing where attention should go isn’t going to help if you can’t stay there. Distractions destroy focused attention. While I’m not convinced it’s possible to entirely remove them, it is possible to make great strides in creating an environment that promotes and protects attention.

Look at your environment and what is there to support focus or hinder it. Evelyn, a frustrated marketing executive, looked at her workspace through the lens of attention. She immediately noticed that the office copy machine was placed outside her door. The dots connected. She was frustrated because while waiting for their copies, her well-intentioned colleagues would stick their head in her door and chat. This happened several times an hour and she could rarely find focused flow. Eureka! A phone call to facilities to move the machine and she finally enjoyed a day of satisfying concentration.

Look around, what can you do right now? Do you work in an open office environment? What signals can you send that say, “Don’t bother me?”

These steps are only the beginning. Each of these strategies can be built out and expanded upon. The next post will dive into deeper detail.

Remember, be patient with yourself as you start this process. These essential skills take time to cultivate and explore to find the strategies that help each of us stay effective in turbulent times.


Jeremy Hunter, PhD is Founding Director of the Executive Mind Leadership Institute and Associate Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management in Claremont, CA. His pioneering courses on Self-Management build on Peter Drucker’s assertion “before you can manage anyone else, you have to manage yourself first.” He has been awarded Professor of the Year five times. When in need of life-saving surgery over a dozen former students stepped forward as organ donors.

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Why buy sustainable food products?

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