Wisdom Reinvented – Prevention Magazine

Noula was recently interviewed and photographed by Prevention Magazine for their October 2014 issue, for an article about inspiring women.

“Wisdom Reinvented”

Seven women. Seven different cultures. What they all share? A universal zest for life and an outlook on ageing that redefines the word inspiration.

By Cecily-Anna Bennett, Photography by Nick Scott

Noula Diamantopoulos, 56, Greek

“How do I feel about getting older? I’m really happy to be on this planet for every breath I take. Ageing is not an issue for me. I don’t have any fear about it or preconceived ideas about how I have to be at a certain age. I just live. Of course I look into the mirror sometimes and think, ‘Hmmm, that’s not quite the same face as it used to be’. Some things have changed, but I haven’t. I’m just happy to be here, to have experiences and go on this journey.”

Click on the images to enlarge the article.

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Art Making is a Transformative Process

Curious? Learn more at the Studio of Spontaneous Creativity

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Keep Making Mistakes

KEEP MAKING MISTAKES by noula diamantopoulos

“In my studio practice comma no fullstop start again. In my studio practice no start again.
In my studio I practice, hence the name studio practice.”

– noula diamantopoulos exploring miss takes.

Imagine approaching your art making as research. Maybe you already do. And if you don’t, how might that be different to the way you currently approach your art making? Let’s say you want to try out a new medium in your art making. Perhaps it’s working in inks, encaustics, clay or printing.

What do you do? Join a class? Google? Ask a colleague? Find a book on the topic or perhaps go to the art supply store and ask them or maybe just buy the art products and give it a go?

If you approached your art making as research (to search and search again) then would any part of your research be considered a mistake?

Call them what you want… just keep making them because when I do my art, I am process focused. That means I follow a ‘way’ not a technique.

My process involves meditations, journaling, doodling, reflecting and being open to the world channel (messages from the universe). I include an intuitive based research approach to my  art practice. And I usually have Joseph Campbell close at hand saying to me “where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”

My ‘mistakes’ viewed by others, oppose my growth. My ‘mistakes’ viewed by me are research. And the more research I do the more I learn.

So I am okay to keep making mistakes because it means I have the preparedness to sit with the results of my own uncertainty, because I have faith in my creative process.

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Change by noula diamantopoulos

CHANGE by noula diamantopoulos

Change is something that happens regardless of whether we mean it to, make it to, want it to or not.

Change is an outcome, a result and acts in the same manner as milestones do. Changes are like a tracking devise, a witness to our being, that we were here and this is what it looked like when we were.

And if there was no change, then did anything happen!

Some changes are subtle like turning 50 (when did that happen?) and some are like ruptures causing us to be still, to heal that which for so long was hidden.

Change will happen. It is the only constant.

We talk about change management – how can change be managed? Does change need to be managed? What are we managing when change has happened? Is it about helping us to understand change? What if I don’t want to understand it? Is change management about learning acceptance. After all change is something that happens regardless of whether we mean it to, make it to, want it to or not.

If change management is about acceptance then what does acceptance mean?

Acceptance used to feel like something I had to do to get on with life. A kind of “get over it”, “move on” “who cares” and “whatever” attitude. It felt like a pacifying action for the sake of keeping the peace. However. To truly accept is anything but a passive action. To come to a place of acceptance requires a spirited approach to change. For change will happen. It already has. Acceptance is about letting go of what life should look like. What a business should look like. Even people of vision cannot truly know what will be birthed. People of vision envision change and they become catalysts of change, a change warrior.

Change is an agitating force where you find yourself in a new state. A place you have never been to before. Landed without a map. No directions. And an uncomfortable feeling.

The Cosmos is a big place. You can get lost in it or you can get found in it. I have chosen the latter.

Yes, you can find yourself in different states but consider this – a state is a part of something – something bigger – larger – called the Cosmos. And theses States are not out there – they are in here – within us, within all of us. Maybe we could work towards unity.

Do not push away the States – do not make them homogenous, integrate them for they are all meant to be and what stops them for being integrated is the way we judge that which is seeking to be integrated. Imagine that for a moment – that our differences are seeking to find a place in this cosmos and to not replace or displace anyone or anything – judgement seeks to replace – Change is an outcome, a result and acts in the same manner as milestones do.  Changes seeks their place in the Cosmos and do not intend to replace.

Marcus Aurelius – the Roman Emperor (however he wrote his famous Meditations in Greek!) Said “You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgement, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite.”

And I think Rumi was responding to Aurelius when he said: “Stop acting so small, you are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

And then nola said: “And this motion is called change, it is going to happen so why not agitate it!”

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Change – Spoken podcast by noula diamantopoulos

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Why In God’s Name Isn’t Everyone Creative?

WHY IN GOD’S NAME ISN’T EVERYONE CREATIVE by noula diamantopoulos

YOKE MagazineNoula contributed an article ‘Why In God’s Name Isn’t Everyone Creative?’ to the first issue of YOKE Magazine.
 
“The themes of love and loss are filtered through the pages of this first issue of YOKE, as a little reminder and celebration that we all connect with love and loss during our lifetime, and that how we learn to love and let go is an intrinsic and vital function of being human.”

Click on the image to enlarge the article.

Why In God's Name Isn't Everyone Creative

 

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Muscle Relaxation and Breath Meditation Podcast

Muscle Relaxation & Breath Meditation by noula diamantopoulos

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Approaching Work With Soul

APPROACHING WORK WITH SOUL by noula diamantopoulos

I have been contemplating the idea of our soul (is it different to our spirit?) and wondering what it means and what value it might have if we were to access and nurture this non material, non matter, ‘something’ which we call a Soul.

Without knowing what Soul is, as I cannot define it – but then again I cannot define Mind and Mind is as nebulous as Soul, and Mind exists, I’m sure, because it functions through the brain to create and express our thoughts. It seems at this point that mind has a voice (or a least is connected to one) and that the Soul is expressed through another mode of communication.

And then I come across Benyus, who says that we still have a longing to be reconnected with the nature that shaped our imagination, our language, our song and dance, our sense of the divine – and I began to sense my Soul as the nature in me that ignites the desire to be connected or perhaps reconnected with that that has shaped me and you and all of us.

This is my Souls journey. What if I intentionally brought my Souls desire to connect to the workplace? If I did, perhaps it would look like a great desire to be part of something more than the gifts I bring to a workplace. Perhaps it would look like a collaboration between team members and peers and everyone we encountered that together we can create more than we could have anticipated or imagined simply because 1+1= way more than the next number. This idea takes us beyond our unique contribution we can make as an individual and suggests that working together we truly grow exponentially as an individual and as a team, community etc.

I have a yearning to be seen and connected and not just witnessed and measured in the workplace by processes. These processes were designed to support our workflows to allow us more time to engage in acts of creativity in the workplace. Yet we spend more time designing, implementing and correcting ‘work processes’ than we do in engaging the human spirit to innovate and even less time for the Soul to connect.

And we do the same to our bodies. We push our body to meet the demands we place on her/him to be on time (therefore we eat fast foods) and to work long hours (therefore we deprive ourselves of the healing benefits of sleep).

‘Conscious Living’ by Dr Gay Hendricks has given five required lessons of the Soul journey. They are:

1. Feel All Your Feelings Deeply

“Always and in every moment, embrace what is real inside yourself and focus on what is real outside yourself.”

This alone allows you to reconnect with your body and to stop and listen to her/his wisdom. Your arse is smart too you know!

2. Seek Your True Self

“Get your priorities straight. Focus first on who you are, then let your actions flow from this place of deep self-knowledge.”

The day you begin to contemplate, regularly, on the question of ‘who’ you are “ is the beginning of a new awareness that only you and no degrees or life experiences can give you. This is your essence and your essence is sourced from your soul.

3. Let Go of the Uncontrollable

“The secret of happiness is knowing that there are some things you can control and some things you cannot.”

Handy to reflect on!

4. We Are All Made of the Same Thing

“When we go deeply enough into who we are and who others are, we will find our organic connection with divinity and theirs.”

And we are back to the yearning for reconnection.

5. Life Is Fullest When We’re Most True to Ourselves

“If you express what needs to be expressed within you, you will be happy and fulfilled. If you don’t, you won’t.”

Could true to yourself refer to your Soul?

Appearing in this Article

Janine M. Benyus – Connecting and nourishing our networks with her thoughts – a champion of biomimicry

Dr Gay Hendricks – Psychologist and body/mind therapist – of course!

Robert Pirsig – Oh you didn’t see him? He wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There’s a relevant story there pertaining to arithmetic and the meaning of Soul. A son asks his father if he, the father, believes in ghosts. The father answers abruptly and quickly with “Of course, not!” Then, he thinks about it and he explains to his son that maybe he does believe in ghosts because he believes in the number system and it is a ghost. A ghost is non-concrete, can’t be touched nor felt, no weight, no mass. What are numbers? They are symbols with meaning attached to them… and, for some, connecting the symbols with the actual counting process is very abstract. When we look at ancient Egyptian numbers, they are meaningless symbols to us unless we have taken the time to study and connect the symbol with its intended meaning.

Buddha? What do you think?

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How Can I have Harmony With Colleagues I Dislike?

A lot rides on getting along with colleagues at work. Your emotional wellbeing in the workplace affects what you ‘hear’ (read: interpret) from your colleagues, which in turn affects how you respond to them. When you have uncertainty with a workplace relation, you end up ‘hearing’ your own version of what they say – which is often very different to the original! (“Whatcha talking ‘bout willis?”)

It’s on your mind constantly, repetitively going over the ‘yuck’ feeling of that relationship. And as you continue to re-live the relationship ‘issue,’ you think you are in the process of solving it. Guess what? You’re not. You are just keeping the story in the tabloids.

So let’s look at this another way. Do you always have harmony with people you do like? Be honest with yourself here. I asked one of my clients, a manager of many people in a public business, these three questions and these are her responses:

Why do you want to have harmony with colleagues that you dislike?

“Because without harmony I feel that we are not relating. I cannot understand why they are thinking and acting the way they are. Without harmony I feel that we are working towards different goals – this causes ongoing frustration for myself and them. I want to be able to work towards the same goals with them. And I want the process to be one based on synergy. I want to have harmony with them so that I feel better instead of feeling stressed, angry and frustrated all the time.”

Why do you dislike these colleagues?

“I dislike these colleagues because I feel they are not committed to the same goals as I am. I sense that they are thinking only of their own interests and are not interested in working together to achieve something bigger. I dislike the manner in which they communicate – I want them to be honest and upfront. I dislike their lack of integrity and their poor work ethics. I dislike them because they are not willing to compromise or understand my point of view.”

Do you have harmony with people you like?

“I think that you like people because you have harmony with them. It is easier to become friends with people you understand and can relate to – people you are harmonious with. It is much harder to become friends with someone who is the exact opposite of you. To do so you need to accept that you don’t quite understand them but are willing to appreciate them anyway. And they must be willing to extend the same courtesy to you.”

The Symptoms…

1. There is someone in the workplace that you don’t like. You don’t like them because of their personality, because of the way they treat you, because of the way they speak to you, because of their unreasonable workflow expectations, because they are demanding, because they are always negative about changes or just because!

2. When you dislike someone in the workplace and you do not work to resolve it, then everything that person does will be added to your basket of reasons to support your view of them. This means you are no longer able to be objective. This does not serve you, the other person or your organisation.

3. When we get upset with someone in the workplace, we feel so right to be upset that we want to tell everyone about it. As we do, we find even more reasons to be right (surprisingly) and the story of Being Right becomes practiced, rehearsed and dotted with quotes from the audience with who we shared our story.

4. When our buttons are pushed or our expectations not met, our emotional response can kick in before we’ve had a chance to check in our luggage (that baggage we carry with us all day, every day).

Did you notice that I only spoke about YOU?!

Turn it around

Mr Emotional Intelligence (or E.Q) Daniel Coleman says that there was an emotional brain long before there was a rational one. It was handy back in the good old days to react instinctively and impulsively to a feeling of danger. Back in those days we could sense a dinosaur approaching long before we could see it. That’s our old brain at work. But now we don’t want our old brain at work!

How to create harmony with people we don’t like:

Observation 1: Own it. Our reaction is ours. It doesn’t matter how our buttons were pushed; the point is that we had the invisible button displayed on our vests and someone accidentally (or even purposely) pushed it. Yet it’s ours to display, and our responsibility to control.

Observation 2: Don’t take it personally. It’s never about us, really. It may be about overcoming what we represent but never personal.

Observation 3: Take responsibility and create what you want. Don’t wait for it to happen.

How do we start practicing these observations?

1. Step back. Become aware of yourself and get to know your behaviours – you are more than your behaviours (thanks Tony) – so don’t get caught up with your reactions. We simply need to become aware of ourselves. That and that alone has the power to transform us as we begin to focus on ourselves and not on the behaviours of others.

2. Be fair. Really. I’m going to say that again. Be fair to others. Give them the benefit of the doubt and practice Covey’s habit no.5: Seek first to understand the other. Do not seek to be understood first. We do that so very well, ignoring the other, speaking louder and talking over them to be heard. Watch what happens to your workplace relationships when you practice the opposite of that.

3. Check in with yourself when someone has annoyed you or pushed your button. Write it out on a piece of paper, identifying the issue and then deal with it, not simply their behaviour.

Creating harmonious relationships in the workplace begins with creating harmonious relationships with ourselves. Get to know yourself, your behaviours, your beliefs and your values. Observe your thoughts, those automatic emotional reactions to any stimulus, and you will discover that there is a better version of you waiting to go to work. If you don’t, Maslow will have the last words: “if you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”

 Appearing in this article:

Tony Robbins Unleashing his good words

Daniel Coleman His book Emotional Intelligence – get it!

Stephen Covey Making life a habit of good practice – and there are 7 habits.

Abraham Maslow Love this man.

Arnold Jackson Snuck in here to remind us to have some fun. A little guy from a T.V show called Different Strokes.

Anonymous Client Thank you – you know who you are, but like the toothpaste advertisement, we can’t show you her face – sorry.

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Claiming Creativity In The Workplace

CLAIMING CREATIVITY IN THE WORKPLACE by noula diamantopoulos

This one little question sits on top of lots of other questions that ask these three things:

1. Are you creative?
2. How do you define creativity?
3. Do you believe in creativity?

Take a moment and write down your responses to these questions and you will soon discover the lurking thoughts that are creeping around your cranium.

Sir Ken Robinson, a thought leader in creativity, has said that to realise the true creative potential in our organisations, schools, and communities, we need to think differently about ourselves, act differently towards each other and learn to be creative.

Are you creative?

“No”, “sometimes”, “it depends on the situation”, “I can’t draw a straight line”, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body”, “I’m not good at art”, “I wish I was,” are some of the responses that make up the majority “No” vote each time I have asked this question over the last 15 years to the more than 5000 people who have participated in my public and corporate programs.

What unites many of these responses is an underlying belief that to be creative means that you are able to express yourself through the medium of the arts. In other words, to be creative you must either be able to draw (this is the dominant response), or paint or sculpt or write etc. This belief generally goes deeper and that is not only to believe you must you be able to draw, paint or express yourself in an artistic manner, you must be able to do so eloquently like Michaelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. Anything less and, well, quite frankly, you don’t think you are creative.

Every day we make (create) decisions, we make (create) friends, we make (create) love, we make (create) houses, we make (create) mistakes, and we make (create) thoughts. It is this process of making that we are indeed creating and therefore are creative. The question is not “are you creative?” but “what are you creating.”

How do you define creativity?

Fundamentally, if you believe you are creative, you are; and if you believe you are not creative, you are not.

To truly investigate your creative side it’s a good idea to Mindmap your thoughts. Don’t censor them. Just allow them to flow and you may literally ‘see’ what you are thinking. This is your starting point. Capture your thoughts on paper. Seeing these thoughts written down is very different to thinking these thoughts which really is witnessing a few thoughts going around your mind causing you to think in circles. These repetitive thoughts are what inform and hence create your beliefs.

You can change your mind

Habits of thinking need not be forever. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think.

Do you believe in creativity?

Unless you believe in the power to be creative, you will not be motivated to access your creative potential, let alone be able to activate it. That is the power of a belief. No one can convince you to change your beliefs. That is a journey only you can take and that journey requires a willingness on your part — a willingness to be open-minded, to explore the views of others, and to listen with curiosity whilst suspending judgement.

Is that possible you might ask? I think so. This process is called learning. You can learn to be creative. Ask yourself this question, do you believe that you are capable of learning? If you answered yes, then you can learn to be creative. You can learn to paint, to draw, to think differently, you can learn anything. The question comes back to “do you want to?” This takes us back to becoming aware of underlying beliefs that may be holding us back from accessing our creative potential.

“The key question isn’t “What fosters creativity?” But why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might not be why do people create, but why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle that anybody created anything.” Abraham Maslow

Creativity in the Workplace

Creative thinking is sought out in the workplace even if it’s not acknowledged.

Though it may be enough to go to work and do a good job, even a great job, somehow your competency is measured by the added value you bring which goes beyond your agreed upon Key Performance Indicators.

Yet it’s more than this. We work more hours than not, that’s not new, and we work fast trying to keep up with changes in technology. How can we therefore engage our creativity when we don’t have enough time to keep up with the ever-changing work environment?

It starts with you

Don’t wait for the culture of your organisation to provide you with the opportunity to be creative. There is no time like the present to start connecting and engaging with your creativity.

You’re wondering where to start? To begin with you can write down some of the many challenges that you face in the workplace at the present moment. Create a second column and write down how you are currently managing those challenges. Let’s say that one of your challenges was how to manage the negative traits of your teammates.

Next create a Mindmap with the words ‘negative traits of teammates’ and write out all the things you see as being negative and detrimental to the team spirit that have been played out. Be as articulate as you can. Keep this going for at least fifteen minutes. The first things you write are the obvious issues.

You want to get deeper than this. Once you have finished, circle issues that are the most important to you. Each one of those circles will represent another Mindmap. So lets say you circled the word ‘gossip’. Now look back into your own life and Mindmap all the times you have done this very same thing. Notice anything?

“I recently asked my team to complete the ‘three good things’ exercise as part of a team building session with Nola. This proved to be a very powerful exercise. By the end of the session we were all feeling grateful for the skills and talents of our colleagues. Without intending to, we began to start acknowledging each other more and verbalising thanks and praise. This new gratitude helped us all to approach our work with a new positive energy. It helped each person to look at their individual complaints and issues in a larger context.”

This is an example of a creative approach to workplace relationships. Creativity is required to solve problems as well as to identify them. Can you think of other applications for this methodology?

How about spinning it around now. Name all your teammates in the first column. Next to each teammates’ name write three good things about them. Finally, next to each of the good things you wrote, also write down ‘why?’. It’s not until you write ‘why’ that you have fully engaged with the contributions that your teammates make to your team spirit. Notice something else? Those three good things that each teammate contributes to the spirit is what you may want to grow and flourish.

“The scientific literature suggests that happy individuals are also more creative, helpful, charitable, and self-confident, have better self-control, and show greater self- regulatory and coping abilities. Happy people, the facts clearly show, are flourishing and successful people.” Robert Emmons

It all starts with YOU, the only thing you can really change!

 This article was featured in The Art of Healing, February 2012.

To view the article PDF, click here.
To learn more about The Art of Healing, visit their website.

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