Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Moore’

How to Get In the “Flow” and Be Happier

Positive emotions have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being in numerous scientific studies.

To help you get into and maintain a healthy, positive emotional state, Harvard Health Publications has a new publication called “Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and personal strength,” which is based on the latest research.

One situation that may stand out for you when you were feeling positive emotions is during a moment of effortless action.

This sense of “flow” is what athletes refer to as being “in the zone.”

“The more flow experiences you have in life, the happier and more fulfilled you will be,” says Margaret Moore, founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corp. and co-author of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life with Harvard psychiatrist Paul Hammerness and writer John Hanc.

Here’s an excerpt from “Positive Psychology” on how you can get into the flow.

Flow: Becoming more engaged

Have you ever been so immersed in what you were doing that all distractions and background chatter just fell away?

Nothing existed except the music and your guitar, your skis and the slope, your car and the road.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, distinguished professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., calls that state of intense absorption “flow.”

For decades, he explored people’s satisfaction in their everyday activities, finding that people report the greatest satisfaction when they are totally immersed in and concentrating on what they are doing.

In studies by Csikszentmihalyi and others, flow experiences led to positive emotions in the short term, and over the long term, people who more frequently experienced flow were generally happier.

Researchers have also found that people vary in how much they value having flow experiences, and in how easy they find it to enter flow.

No matter what your natural tendency, recognizing how flow occurs (or doesn’t) in your life and creating opportunities for more flow experiences can be a potent route to increased happiness.

Defining flow

How do you know if you’re in flow?

According to the research, Csikszentmihalyi and others found that flow experiences have several common characteristics.

You lose awareness of time.

You aren’t watching the clock, and hours can pass like minutes.

As filmmaker George Lucas puts it, talent is “a combination of something you love a great deal and something you can lose yourself in — something that you can start at 9 o’clock, look up from your work and it’s 10 o’clock at night.”

You aren’t thinking about yourself.

You aren’t focused on your comfort, and you aren’t wondering how you look or how your actions will be perceived by others.

Your awareness of yourself is only in relation to the activity itself, such as your fingers on a piano keyboard, or the way you position a knife to cut vegetables, or the balance of your body parts as you ski or surf.

You aren’t interrupted by extraneous thoughts.

You aren’t thinking about such mundane matters as your shopping list or what to wear tomorrow.

You have clear goals at each moment but aren’t focused on the goal line.

Although you may be working toward an ultimate goal, such as earning a graduate degree, making a wedding cake, or winning a chess tournament, that goal is not your primary motivation.

Rather, you find the activity itself to be rewarding — mastering or explaining a line of thinking in your academic work, creating tiers of beautiful icing, or visualizing your way out of a sticky chess situation.

You are active.

Flow activities aren’t passive, and you have some control over what you are doing.

You work effortlessly.

Flow activities require effort (usually more effort than involved in typical daily experience).

Although you may be working harder than usual, at flow moments everything is “clicking” and feels almost effortless.

You would like to repeat the experience.

Flow is intrinsically rewarding, something you would like to replicate.

In a 2005 study, presented at the Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium, researchers reported that 60% of people hiking the full length of the Appalachian Trail reported experiencing flow, usually on a daily basis, and more than 80% expressed a desire to hike the trail again.

In rating the things they enjoyed, the hikers said they enjoyed the experience and activity itself, as well as using their skills.

In contrast, external factors, such as competition with others and the prestige of completing the trail, were rated dead last in what made the experience enjoyable.

Enhancing your ability to experience flow in multiple domains can lead to greater happiness.

You can’t force flow, but you can invite it to occur more often, even in areas of life where it might seem unlikely.

Make Lifestyles Changes That Last with a Wellness Coach

A new breed of health professional – wellness coaches – appeared on the healthcare scene about a decade ago.

Thousands of wellness coaches now serve as partners with their clients to elicit agendas and co-discover solutions.

The clients of wellness coaches learn how to lose weight, exercise more, and change their lifestyles with lasting results.

Wellness coaches differ from life coaches, personal trainers, or therapists because they use science-based techniques to enhance motivation, self-confidence, and self-regulation, says Margaret Moore, founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation.

“Studies show wellness coaches help instill long-lasting habits that, over time, become part of the brain’s hardwiring,” says Moore, who is also co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and a founding advisor of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

With more than a dozen years’ worth of wellness coaching experience, Moore has guided thousands of coaches and hundreds of clients to make the changes toward leading healthier lives.

On a CBS TV broadcast last week, Moore said “the coach is really trained to help you take a bigger picture of you, over all aspects of your health and wellness and then come up with a formula that combines all of these things together.”

And “the coaching world has come up with skills to help people make changes that last,” she said.

The TV report noted that the National Consortium for Credentialing of Health & Wellness Coaches is currently working to develop a national certification for wellness coaches.

In collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine, Wellcoaches is helping to lead this initiative.

Foster Positivity By Organizing Your Mind

Wellness coaches work with people to improve their health and well-being in a way that lasts.

One of the nation’s top wellness coaches, Margaret Moore, aka Coach Meg, is the founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation, a leader in building international standards for professional coaches in health and wellness.

She is the co-author of a new book, Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, with Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Paul Hammerness, MD, and writer John Hanc.

This well-written book does a great job in describing the latest neuroscience research on the brain’s extraordinary built-in system of organization, and translates that science into solutions.

One section on “Foster Positivity” hit home with me.

Moore mentions research by Barbara Fredrickson, a leader in the field of positive psychology, that states you need at least a 3:1 ratio of positive emotions to negative emotions for your brain to function at its best.

In other words, you need a 75/25 positive energy ratio to succeed.

Moore lists some ways you can work on the most common positive emotions that Fredrickson has identified:

— Cultivate curiosity about and interest in the challenge of change.

— Seek inspiration form others who have been successful.

— Be grateful for something, anything.

— Savor small moments on the journey.

— Enjoy the pride of doing something well — appreciate even small steps forward.

— Celebrate early wins.

It’s very easy to ruminate on the negative.

It’s less familiar to focus on the positive.

— Have fun.

Making positive changes in your life can be extremely enjoyable, says Moore.

Discover joy in the process of changing, and you probably will change.