5 Life Changing Ways to Spring Clean Your Mind

It’s true. There is no time like the present. But let’s face it – sometimes we find ourselves in situations where the present has become clouded with fear, detachment and bad habits. It’s now time to shed those negative thoughts and mental-clutter, and time to embrace a strong, empowered you.

meditation mindfulness

Joan Miro, The Dance of Poppies, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 195cm
 

But with so many monotonous social media do’s and don’ts that we are incessantly told to believe, how do you know what’s right for you? The truth is, no article that you read online is going to be able to determine that for you. Every living thing is complex and different in their own right, and there is no one right way to go about becoming a better version of you. What might work overnight for you, might only work after twelve nights for your friend or colleague. Which is why a holistic approach is necessary, taking into account individual needs and personality. We all deserve the occasional helping hand that can get us started on a path toward long term mental stability. Here are some steps in the right direction:

1. Ditch the Fear

Fear can be good and bad for us. The good variety is the one that inspires us to excel, plan for the future, and mentally prepares us in situations where we need to suddenly switch on. The bad kind is one of our biggest set backs. It not only causes a stuck-in-the-mental-mud scenario, but if we allow it to overwhelm us, we may eventually lose control of our own true thoughts and desires. Essentially, we forget who we are. It can also take a physical toll on us, causing unnecessary stress which can lead to poor health.

So how to overcome this? One of the most effective ways is to not only recognise fear when it is happening, but to actually identity what is triggering that response in you. Once again, everyone is different, and some of your fear may be related to anything from a past trauma to a small concern that evolved into a fear. If your life is dominated by fear, it is essential that you take some time and try a previously unexplored method so that you can begin moving forward in life. By using positive psychology, creativity, and meditation, you can filter out the clutter and determine why the fear response keeps returning.

2. Connect at Work

Human connections are great for your mind and mood. Nowadays, so many of us are too busy with our heads down in our phones reading ‘The 5 Easy Steps to Connecting At Work’ to have any spare time to put those words into action.

One practical solution is a personal or team development program in the workplace. By incorporating a workshop into the daily grind, you are allowing yourself and your team members to grow and heal mentally, meaning a happier, more connected work place. Make the time to connect and truly bond with your team – you’ll feel insurmountably better for it.

3. Clear Your Head Space

Sometimes this means letting go of an emotionally unavailable friend, an unhealthy habit, or physically clearing out old material items. This is much easier said than done when we don’t feel mentally strong enough to even know how to begin doing any of this. The thing is, you need to be in a strong place before you can sustain healthy patterns. How? Try getting creative.

Your job might require creativity from you, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are achieving it for yourself. When was the last time you created something ‘just because’? Whether it’s a self portrait or a creative experiment, the brain is a muscle that needs working-out, and you are your own personal trainer.

4. Try Something New to Shift Old Perspectives

Sometimes no amount of fresh air, yoga, or hiking of the Himalayas will make you ready for work the following day. When we are struggling internally with something that we feel we cannot shift, our issues and triggers will come back to haunt us until we work out the root of their existence.

Meditation is perfect for this, as it allows your mind to take necessary time out to process recent, current, or past events. Once you been trained on how to do this effectively, you will be able to gain a refreshed approach to problem solving, shift old and negative perspectives, know how to sustain positive work morale and can-do attitude, and actually want to go to work in the mornings. Who knows, you might find yourself in a fit of a laughter with colleagues that you may not have even spoken with before.

5. Change Your Mental Conversation

Would you talk to your friends and colleagues the way you talk to yourself? If not, it’s time to re-learn how to think positively about yourself and others around you. This can be a difficult one, but you can make the shift and make a huge positive impact on your life in general. By participating in creative and fun team building activities, it can empower you to explore your own creative potential and imagination, providing a fresh and confident sense of self.

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Why You Should Be Practicing Meditation and Mindfulness

We can all be successful, powerful, and creative individuals, and it is essential that we are mindful of our potential. If you allow yourself and your individual team members to grow, so will your corporate team. But how do you teach a room full of different personalities to practice meditation and mindfulness, and what are they?
 
meditation mindfulness

What is Meditation and Mindfulness, Really?

Meditation and Mindfulness have been practiced traditionally for thousands of years and are becoming increasingly utilised across the globe. It is a non-pharmacological method to train your mind to manage stress, shift negative thoughts, improve physical health conditions, and sustain healthy relationships at work and in life. Long story short, meditation creates mindfulness, putting things into perspective, meaning a happier, healthier you.

But who has the time for that these days? It’s an unfortunate truth that most people do not or cannot give mental health enough time in the day. People are becoming busier, working longer hours, and having to deal with unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety. It is even more difficult for parents who work full time and have to juggle responsibilities the moment they walk through the door. Regardless of your lifestyle, industry, or personal life, people are gearing more toward quick fixes and convenient solutions. We all know deep down that this never works, and only serves temporary relief. So what if we could kill two birds with one stone, and bring meditation to the workplace?
 
Why You Should Be Practicing Meditation and Mindfulness?

Meditation affects our body and mind in unexpected ways. It can reduce anxiety and depression, help with insomnia, provide numerous well-researched health benefits, promote living in the moment, assist in ditching bad habits, help develop deep connections with others, boost your immune system, allow you to make better decisions, and increase overall wellbeing. What some people don’t realise is that it can also significantly lower blood pressure, has proven to be effective in treatment for chronic pain, and can even speed or lower metabolism.

Physical and psychological stress and disorders have been linked directly to emotional experiences and traumas. If these are not treated correctly, they can sometimes spiral out of control, lowering our immunities, moods, and overall wellbeing. Meditation, however, enhances positive emotions, teaching our minds how to regulate our responses when faced with negative situations. Mindfulness, which is cultivated through the practice of meditation, is an invaluable technique that further increases positive mental health.

If you’re not yet convinced, ask yourself this. Ever feel like things are just too much, and that you need to leave town every few weeks to recuperate and refresh your mind? Ever lay in bed, dreading the next snooze alarm, wishing so desperately that you could wake and it be Sunday again? Or maybe you find your moods unstable and unpredictable at times, making you more and more vulnerable to the stresses and upsets of daily life?

What if you could be guaranteed a solution, and that solution was something that big corporations weren’t making big money from? Remember – by learning how to practice meditation and mindfulness, you are making an investment in a life skill that you can practice at home, on your own in solitude, or sometimes even with family and friends. The ball is in your court, but only if you want it to be.
 

How To Practice Meditation and Mindfulness?

We get it. It sounds impossible. How do we get our mind to stop thinking about work or bills and focus acutely on what’s going on within you, even for a second? Much of our daily life is spent in our heads, whether we like it or not, so it’s understandable that the concept of taming your mind is far fetched for many.

Why Meditate? Watch this video on Meditation & Mindfuless

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Workplace Gossip: 3 Easy Steps to Keeping it Professional

Taking part in workplace gossip is a sure way to lose friends. Being on the receiving end of workplace gossip can also be quite isolating. Regardless of the industry or career path, work place gossip is surprisingly quite common, despite it’s detrimental affects. So how to avoid it and keep things professional?

holistic personal development

The first agreement in Ruiz and Ruiz book entitled The 5th Agreement is ‘be impeccable with your word.’ Make this your mantra at work and in life and in particular as you continue to read through the 3 tips I have for you on how to avoid gossip in the workplace.

1. Keep Cool as a Cucumber

If a colleague begins to unload their issues with someone else on you, listen with compassion and change the subject. If they aren’t quite getting the hint, respond with “I understand you are upset’ or phrases that acknowledge their experience of the event, however do not agree or disagree to the events that they are sharing with you. Be indifferent to their gossip. No need to be rude, simply don’t engage.

It’s hard enough having to juggle the responsibilities and dramas that life already throws your way, so there is no need to take on more than you can carry. It is extremely unprofessional, and only creates unnecessary tension and stress between individuals when they should be working as a team.

Try and keep conversation purely to positive chit chat. Be mindful of the people you are working with. No matter how angry you feel when you hear gossip or have been wronged by, lashing out is only going to make things worse. Unfortunately, you’ll most likely come off as the one in the wrong even when you’re not. Meditation, team building activities, or an art as therapy class can help you and your colleagues to relax and let off some steam, allowing you all to get on with things and keep it positive. It is a great step toward developing a happier, self-sustainable work place.
 
2. Learn to Forgive

If you have been the victim of idle workplace gossip, and it is not coming across as work place bullying, it might be best to forgive that colleague. This is a tricky one, and not something that many people feel they can do. But think of it like this. Your work doesn’t define you, nor do the people you work with. And realistically speaking, you are going to have to spend a lot of time with your team mates, possibly for years, so you’re better off making things amicable if you can.

Often we crave support from those around us – it’s validating to know others are on our side. Remember that when you’re at work, though, you’re in a professional environment. Fuelling the office rumour mill will only make things more toxic and lead to people getting hurt. It is a much more sustainable and positive decision to approach the situation with an open mind and willingness to listen. Rather than strive to win the argument, aim to resolve the problem and clarify any uncertainties.

That being said, sometimes the case is more sinister, and you may feel that you are being harassed by an individual in the workplace. You do not have to deal with this in or outside of your professional environment, and it might be time to consult human resources. Serious workplace conflicts should be managed through HR and proper grievance procedures. If you feel threatened or intimidated by a colleague, have a chat to them and know that they are under strict guidelines to keep your situation completely confidential. Don’t stay silent if you don’t feel safe!

3. Avoid Passive-Aggressiveness

Let’s be honest. We’ve all found ourselves at one point or another, tempted to stick a post-it note on a colleagues desk, kindly suggesting they keep their shoes on while at the desk. If you find yourself seriously considering buying those post-it notes, it’s definitely time to opt for an open conversation. Without facing the conflict in a civil, calm manner, we are only allowing it to brew and become worse than it ever was.

How? Improve communication in the workplace. This is one of the biggest flaws in almost every single workplace, but one that doesn’t have to exist. All it takes is a little bit of time and asking of the right questions to optimise relationships and communication in the workplace. Questioning involves exploring creative thinking techniques that support personal development and growth, which can be used to substantially improve communication in the workplace.

Business owners and managers take note – workplace bullying costs businesses billions! Our advice? Avoid it completely! Improving work place morale and communication is a great way for business owners to prevent these negative habits from even forming, resulting in less stress, less drama, and no work place tension. This means a stronger team spirit, happier individuals, and a consistent work flow.

Some avenues to explore in order to best improve workplace communication are positive psychology, art as therapy, creativity, experimental thinking, body storming, mindfulness, and meditation. It all comes down to the individuals as well as the team.

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Artist Radio Interview with Eastside FM 89.7

Artist Radio InterviewArts reporter Chris Virtue from Eastside FM 89.7 spoke to Noula on the Opening Night of her Encaustic Wax Art Exhibition Inhale: Receiving the Divine Gift.

This November, Artereal Gallery in Rozelle presents the second exhibition of a trilogy by multi-disciplinary artist and psychotherapist Noula Diamantopoulos. The exhibition, entitled Inhale: Receiving the Divine Gift, seeks to examine our awakening and arrival on the planet. It follows the artist’s preliminary exhibition, Breathing Space, which sought to explore the invisible life force, or ‘the preparatory void’, that surrounds us at a time where we are mere ideas of Being.

Artist Radio Interview

The new exhibition showcases a series of encaustic artwork. Noula has used of hot, pigmented wax to draw attention to the unpredictable nature of the divine gift of breath. The exhibition also includes a curated selection of sculptures that featured in her prior exhibition, Breathing Space, in a bid to create a narrative and showcase the continuum of the artist’s creative practice.

Artist Radio Interview

To listen to the Artist Radio Interview on Eastside FM, click here.

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‘Inhale’ Encaustic Art Exhibition Review on Eastside FM

Exhibition ReviewLisa Kirstistuen and Hanna Sundquist from Eastside FM 89.7 wrote an Exhibition Review on Noula’s Encaustic Wax Art Exhibition Inhale: Receiving the Divine Gift..

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… You might think we are just writing random numbers, but in fact these are the Fibonacci numbers that appear in biological settings such as branching in trees, the fruit sprouts of a pineapple and the flowering of an artichoke. The numbers are also intimately connected with the golden ratio, and are also a prime example of how mathematics is connected to seemingly unrelated things.

Psychotherapist and meditation mogul Noula Diamantopoulos used these numbers as part of her inspiration when creating her new exhibition, Inhale: Receiving the Divine Gift. The idea for the exhibition came to her after her mother’s recent death. Diamantopoulos was amazed by the fact that when her mother took her last breath, she inhaled rather than exhaled. This made her think, and it created “an idea of us as beings for this planet, and the concept of a preparatory void in anticipation of our arrival.”

“The fact that the last breath my mother took was an inhalation made me reflect. It would have made sense if her last breath was to exhale, but it wasn’t. The breath is a divine gift, and we don’t really die anyway. The death is like a new beginning”, Noula says.

Wax and fire

Each artwork in in the exhibition is layered with accumulations of wax imbedded with fragments of shell and crystal, or they are strung with talismanic found objects. The same materials are often integrated into Noula’s mosaics, another art form from her extended practice.

“I like working with wax and fire. You don’t know how it will look in the end, the wax is uncontrollable. That’s where my journey started”, she says.

The divine gift

For Noula, breath is mystical and her works explore and inhabit that fleeting balance between the known, the unknown and unknowable. The universal magnitude and the minutest particles embody the range and vast spaces Noula traverses to interpret and to convey visually and conceptually a sense of the divine gift of breath that can open up space, time, body and mind.

“Meditation for me is critical. It is about finding a space when you can access a state of pause, to stop, with intention”, says the meditation guru.

We are disconnected

Throughout the meditation session led by Noula that we participated in, many of us experienced heat, sweat and also nausea. Noula has an explanation. “Tensions and negative thoughts might come up for you through the meditation. This is your body you are connected with. And we are so disconnected and separate from our bodies. Some people say that their body let them down. Oh really? You are not your body?”, she says.

The ritual objects, which Noula titles ‘spirit sticks’, are seemingly to support a quest or path to be taken in both a spiritual and physical or a metaphorical sense. They are at once symbolic of a universal search and the artist’s own personal quest for meaning; particularly poignant and cathartic for the artist following the recent death of her mother. Many of the embellishments, skeletal shell fragments, feathers, threads, glass ‘eyes’ and markings that resemble cyphers for life and light from their Greek heritage acknowledge their shared heritage and stories. The artist likes combining meditation and creating art.

“In the first instance, meditation can be for relaxing. But it is more than that. Meditation is about connecting with your inner source. It is about understanding who you are in this world and space of silence”, she says.

This exhibition is the second part of a trilogy centred on the relationship of breath to life. The final part, Exhale, will close the trilogy as signaled by the artist in her earlier observation: “It occurs to me that though Breathing Space can be captured, it cannot be contained. Just like breathing – this gift of life dies the moment we capture it. We exhale moments after we inhale. Life starts and ends in these moments.”
 
Exhibition Review

To see the full article on Eastside FM, click here.

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Meditating with Dogs – Interview with Dr Anne Fawcett

Meditating with DogsNoula was interviewed & featured on Small Animal Talk, the blog of Dr. Anne Fawcett, a Sydney-based veterinarian, journalist and lecturer, about Meditating with Dogs.

What are you up to this weekend? Is chillaxing with the non-humans in your life on the agenda? There’s no doubt that the presence of an animal can be calming. SAT spoke to artist Noula Diamantopoulos who mediates with her dog Leonardo.

What is your day job?

I am an artist and psychotherapist. I have three website profiles: The Studio of Spontaneous Creativity, The Corporate Buddha and The Mosaic Art School of Sydney. I also have a blog and QUEST – this is my performance art.

Why do you meditate?

I use art as a way of accessing our intuition and to awaken our imagination so that we can experience more of who we are. I have been meditating for almost 18 years and my meditation practice today is different to when I first began. Today it’s about connecting with the great unknown, the field of unlimited potentiality as named by Deepak Chopra. The state that we access when we meditate is clarity. That’s my experience. In this State of clarity I feel I understand what my place is on this planet, what I am here to do and how to be.

How did you meet Leonardo? How does he help you meditate?

Leonardo is the first dog I have ever had and I met him at Leichhardt Pet Shop which no longer sells pets. He was about 3.5 months old when I met him. I had no intention of buying a dog however I knew this little fellow was one the moment I left the store without him. I went back the next day and brought him home – that was 7 years ago. He comes to the studio with me every day and the only time we are apart is when I travel interstate.

What does he do when you mediate?

Leonardo is very used to meditating with me. Every day at the studio we have a small meditation group that meets at 9.15am. We meditate for approximately 20 minutes – different kinds of mediations each time – never the same. We are in a semi-circle and Leonardo has several cushions to choose from. As soon as we start the music and close our eyes he props himself on a cushion and lays silently until we finish. Sometimes he moves quietly around us as if checking in before he sits on his cushion. He is not disturbed if we chant or if we sound. He is the ultimate expression of chilled.

Do you think there is a unique benefit in meditating with animals?

We are all energy beings including animals. Leonardo brings a gentleness to the space, a feeling of safety even. I feel that by meditating with an animal that a different connection is created between us. It’s energetically different to all the other activities that are normally shared with a pet.

Aside from meditating, how else do you and Leonardo spend time together?

Leonardo attends all my in house workshops. He makes friends easily with people and speeds up the ‘getting to know you process’. He also attends all my holistic coaching/psychotherapy sessions because he brings a calming force to my clients. Many of them like to pat him whilst we are in session and other just like having him around because it creates a sense or normality to the session. And of course we do the regular stuff like walking and hanging out on the lounge and chasing birds, or possums and playing with other dogs.

To see the full article on Small Animal Talk, click here.

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Curious Harmony

CURIOUS HARMONY by noula diamantopoulos

When I hear the word balance, I think of work-life balance. Before I can reflect further, my body responds with an internal squirm and quiver, followed by a somatic gesture, which I try to hold in – but it squeezes out and my nose crinkles!

Why does my nose crinkle at the thought of work-life balance? Because it feels like I need to produce an Excel spreadsheet, improve my time management skills and tick more boxes of accomplishments, so I might feel I am living a balanced lifestyle.

I need to start again, so I do. As I continue to balk at the notion of balance, I turn toward the word harmony. Now my body begins to get comfortable. My computer keyboard rhythm slows as I glide over the letters, forming words that are helping me explore the concept of harmony.

Harmony doesn’t require a balancing act, a juggling of opposing and conflicting must-dos or wanna-dos or some preconceived idea about how my life should look, as determined by people whose good opinion is just that.

Harmony, like the universe, can appear chaotic – yet in that chaos there are teleological patterns forming. That means in the unpredictability of life experiences, there is an unobservable pattern that surfaces as chaos and appears to be random, yet has a flow and is here on purpose. I begin to wonder: Do we want the opposite, which is order and constancy? Is that what balance looks like? Won’t we get bored? Ah… Then we want to be in charge of creating non-constancy – i.e. variety – for variety created by others is chaos!

Why would anyone wish to explore the underlying patterns of chaos? My take on this is that if nature is in flow and everything is happening purposefully, then I wish to experience my nature’s harmony. Flow is a term used by psychologists to name that state that creatives and athletes and many successful people operate in.

Going with my flow is my definition of harmony and at times this may look unbalanced on the scales of work-life measurements. However, harmony (the flow of my life) is about the quality of life that I am living. I am talking about the quality of my relationships, the quality of my creativity, the quality of my thoughts and attitudes, and the quality of my contribution to the planet through my work and through my service.

Harmony is an attitude and an attention to those things that matter in my life.

It is an awareness of who I am, of what my gifts are, and the responsibility – or authenticity – of sharing those gifts with others and collaborating with their gifts at all times.

A harmonious life, and therefore a balanced life, may be very busy and it may be working long hours. However, they have not come at the cost of the many other quality-of-life things that matter. And what matters varies from individual to individual and from time to time.

What matters changes regularly for each of us but we may not realise and so continue pursuing old matters. How can we create self-awareness about what matters to us and how can we create harmony?

QUEST FOR HARMONY

QUEST is a process I use to explore our attitudes in a way that is fun, inquisitive, creative and stimulating. The process is as simple as sitting alone in silence, or you can invite another person to participate with you. You will need paper and coloured pencils.

In silence, you begin QUEST by writing down a question. If you are doing this alone, respond to your question with another question. Continue this process for as long as you wish, but for a minimum of 10 questions. If you are doing this with another person, they will respond to your question with another question (written) and you will respond to theirs.

QUESTing elicits the gifts stored in our imagination. When we use our imagination we are connecting with our creativity. We often feel that there is only ever one right answer, but QUEST does not seek to find the answer. Instead, QUEST seeks to reveal the possibilities available to us.

QUESTing arouses our curiosity. Like our imagination, curiosity is a fundamental quality that we all already have within us. However, we often forget to practice and embrace it. Curiosity is a feeling of wonder. And wonderment is a state of bliss, which can only arise when we are in our flow and in harmony with what matters to us.

To learn more about QUESTing, visit www.noulaquesting.blogspot.com

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Curious Harmony – YOKE Magazine

YOKE MagazineNoula wrote an article about the topic of ‘Curious Harmony’ and her performance artwork QUEST in Issue 2 of YOKE Magazine.
 
“In issue 2 of YOKE Magazine, we embrace the craziness of life and our continuous ambitious desire to find and hang onto balance. Issue 2 interrogates the lived and conceptual relationships between balance and truth, the spirit, and healing. Is balance something that can be lost and then remodified and adapted? Is it even something that really exists? The ‘Balance’ issue brings together global leaders in the world of balance, while honing in on local, Aussie voices and homegrown perspectives on balance: from culinary culture to permaculture, from physical performance to philosophy, from ancient Ayurveda to Wirradjiri wisdom.”

 
Click on the image to enlarge and read the article.
 
YOKE Magazine Curious Harmony

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How To Find Inner Space – The Inner West Courier

The Inner West Courier featured and photographed noula in their Tuesday November 4th 2014 publication, about her inaugural From Meditation to Manifestation event.

Starting in February 2015, noula will be running From Meditation to Manifestation, a free meditation for beginners program once a month.

Inner West CourierThe intention of this program is to engage you with the benefits of meditation, and to understand how these practices can be integrated into your personal and work life to reduce stress, improve concentration and practice mindfulness. From this session designed specifically for beginners to meditation, you will come away with many resources to further explore and continue your meditative journey.
For upcoming meditation dates, click here.
By Catherine Zuill, Photography by Craig Wilson

“A daily meditation session with her Cavoodle Leonardo is a far cry from the hectic, face-paced lifestyle Noula Diamantopoulos led as a corporate executive in the oil and gas business. But about 20 years ago, as she was catapulting along a steep career path and travelling all over the world, she woke up and thought “What am I doing?” Now aged 56, Diamantopoulos only returns to the corporate world to run team development programs through her business thecorporatebuddha.com.au. Otherwise she follows her calling as an artist and meditation expert.”

Click on the image to enlarge and read the rest of the article.

Inner West Courier

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Are you on NICE?

ARE YOU ON NICE? by noula diamantopoulos

Nice is one of those words we use a lot, but what does nice mean? All I can come up with is that nice means so many things, and that it’s meaning has become ambiguous and therefore unreliable. When someone uses the word nice, it’s meaning is questionable and leaves the recipient wondering whether the delivery imparted sarcasm or ‘niceness’. When I asked my students what nice meant, they mostly came back with the same response: “It means… nice?”

It’s such a strange word because we can all see niceness and feel niceness and taste niceness and hear niceness and even think niceness… niceness is what our senses experienced as nice. That’s nice!

We use the word nice so often that it comes out of our mouth unconsciously, before we have had time to think more deeply, wishing instead to rush the conversation to it’s conclusion – well that’s how it feels to me when someone uses the ‘nice’ word.

“How was dinner?”
“Nice.”
The end.
“How was last nights outing?”
“Nice.”
The end.
“How was Peru?”
“Nice.”
The end.

This brings me to feel that we seem to have become lazy and stuck. Why do we use this ‘nice’ word so often? Are we suffering from ‘niceness?’ Is niceness an overlaying universal measurement of kindness and goodness where we are all left feeling that we have been nice to each other? But what does that mean?

And then another thought develops. Is it possible that the desire to be nice and to experience niceness; prevents us from discovering how we feel at a deeper level? Is our ability to self-develop impaired because of this ‘nicenessness’ syndrome?

Nicenessness is a variety of behaviours, actions, deeds and or words that are displayed so that we are liked. Now we may be suffering from ‘niceness’ without awareness believing that we are just being – yes you know what I am about to say – believing we are just being nice. Well, isn’t it nice to be nice?

I guess it is, but what does that mean, ‘nice?’ And why do we often have conditional niceness statements like: “Yeah it was nice but…”

And then there is the case of extreme opposite thinking. That’s when your thinking tips the scales and ends deadpan on the floor when you ask: “Are you suggesting that we are not to be nice?”

We go from the North Pole to the South Pole in one swift stride, without venturing into the forest or depths of the sea that lie in between.

My suggesting is to ‘know thyself’ and be aware of why we do what we do, and what might be driving our actions, deeds and words. My question is a pathway to becoming authentic. And how can you know that you are you, if you do not know yourself, or even know how to know yourself?

Here is the antidote to the nicenessness syndrome and a (read one) pathway to discovering who you are – a pathway to becoming authentic. I would begin with removing the word nice from the lexicon. I would look for other words that I might use to replace the word nice – I might even carry those words on me and keep them handy and begin to use as often as I can remember.

This will slow down your communication a little, as you truly begin to explore which is the most appropriate word that best expresses what you are feeling at the time. Goodbye niceness, hello authenticity! Well at least the practice of authenticity.

Here’s a list that may assist you to get started:

  • Munificent
  • Mystical
  • Irksome
  • Zestful
  • Saturated
  • Juicy
  • Festive
  • Spirited
  • Engaging
  • Encouraging
  • Soulful

You can even be metaphorical and use words from the visual or culinary arts to express yourself. Like the colour blue, the flavour of a spice, or you can go even wilder and liken yourself to an artist, an animal or a wise muse. This way of communicating is playful, and it engages your imagination and the imagination of the other, and the journey you will take may take some curious twists and unfurl insights and new learnings.

These are a few simple processes that move you along a path of knowing yourself. And if you practice meditation or mindfulness, then this approach is along those lines, for it creates a pause in your automatic thinking responses. And in that pause you in-quire. You check in with yourself by asking: “What do I feel about this?” and then be as quirky or as deeply meaningful with your response with your new words, and stop being nice for the sake of niceness.

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