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On A Lighter Note: What Dogs and Humans Have In Common

Letting Go of the Noise

My AD/HD Silky Terrier
My AD/HD Silky Terrier

Izzy is my adorable, hyperactive, lovable, canine who we rescued six years ago.  According to passers-by on the greenway, his attitude and behavior are not uncommon in silky-hair terriers. In lay terms, Izzy has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It seems, of late, way too many humans have Izzy-like behaviors. Are you feeling the same?

            As a former CEO leading a complex, multimillion dollar organization, the stressors that are affecting many employees today, from boardrooms to backrooms, are enormous.

            The pace of change and the expectation of just-in-time responses have many on edge. Collaboration, partnerships, transparency, accountability are positive attributes in today’s workplace as are technological advances. But, like most things in life, there is the yin and yang to consider. 

I often wonder whether our communication is better or not better when we have hundreds of emails to read/respond to daily? I often wonder whether our connection to one another is deeper or not when we are routinely interacting via text messages, social media, the internet? I often wonder whether we have greater professional/personal self-satisfaction or less given current societal norms and technological advances?  Can you relate?

Or, are we more frazzled, distracted and disconnected because of being inundated with too much information, too many details and too many clicks. Are our brains on overload so much of the time that we are unable to think deeply, to contemplate, to reflect, to focus, to know? Can you relate?

Many questions and no claim to the solutions although there is much research being done to seek out the answers. Consider the contemporary branch of research, Media Psychology, which is studying the relationship between digital media, psychology and behavior. Scientists are researching how our brains are being re-wired and how our attention spans are eroding. We have much to learn about this latest frontier.

In Chapter III of my life and no longer leading an organization, I thankfully DO have time to think more deeply. It is a gift and treasured. A recurring thought continues to surface and harkens back to my days of journaling…would the idea of writing in a journal be a strategy to help one find a greater sense of calm? As a divorced, single mom, journaling helped clarify my struggles. During my lifetime, it has helped me sort through a variety of situations including career transitions, serious illnesses, and difficult relationships.

Beyond recording one’s thoughts and gaining clarity, the act of handwriting vs. keyboarding is advantageous. Pam Mueller’s notetaking research at Princeton University, has found that typing on a laptop is much less effective for remembering and synthesizing information than handwritten notes. Cognitive psychology and neuroscience also support that handwriting improves learning.

To thrive and to innovate in today’s complex world, thought leaders emphasize that we must not merely act more quickly, but pause more deeply. Kevin Cashman, author of The Pause Principle, quotes a colleague’s advice, “Never forget to slow down, connect with people, and do something that is meaningful. Never go so fast that you forget that love and service make life worth living.”

So, think about silencing the cell phone, turning off the computer and taking pen in hand. Find a quiet place. Write for ten minutes or thirty in a special journal you bought just for yourself. Join a journal-writing seminar that can support your quiet “head space” for a month.  Journaling is a tool that can help declutter your mind…or maybe not. For some, physical action like running, walking or playing golf may be more impactful than a cerebral activity. My hubby who is as ADHD as my little Izzy, would argue that a couple glasses of wine works wonders for calming the spirit!

Whatever works…find time to pause and reflect.

Comments or interested in a journaling seminar or workshop?

Please contact Dr. Catherine Chew @ www.drcatherinechew.com

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