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First, Best, or Different

Niche Marketing Matters
By John Bradley Jackson

Gratitude is Good for You

March 25th, 2013

Evidence suggests that people who experience and practice gratitude are happier.  They sleep more soundly, have fewer medical problems, and report strong relationships with friends and family.

Hofstra University researchers expanded the research to show how gratitude brings many benefits to children and adolescents.  Grateful kids are overall more satisfied with their friends and family, set higher goals, get higher grades, are less materialistic, and report less physical ailments.

Here are some tips and reminders about practicing gratitude:

  • Think about all the wonderful things in your life, including the small pleasures.
  • It may feel strange or stilted at first, but don’t worry.  It’s about practice and repetition, to train your brain to make these positive connections.
  • Start a gratitude journal, make a list, or simply go over everything you are grateful for in your head.
  • Ritualize it by picking a time of day to practice gratitude, such as the few minutes right before you fall asleep or get out of bed in the morning.
  • Share with others that you are trying to be a more grateful person; enlist their support and encouragement when you are feeling ungrateful.
  • Verbally express gratitude out loud to yourself and to others, especially if what you are grateful for has to do with that person.
  • Acknowledge that there will be some days that you forget or don’t have the heart to practice gratitude.  Whenever possible, try anyway.

Already think you practice gratitude on a daily basis?  Up your game with the idea of gratitude through mental subtraction.  This sounds complex, but it’s quite simple.  In an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Christopher Peterson writes about a 2009 study that shows that thinking about the absence about good things in our lives can be even more powerful.  Humans have a tendency to adapt to our surroundings, whatever they are, and take them for granted.  Rather than simply thinking about all the wonderful things in your life, imagine what your life would be without them.  Consider things you wouldn’t notice until it’s gone, like air conditioning or your health.

Becoming a more grateful person takes intentional behavior and conscious effort.  Retraining your brain to think positively takes sustained effort over time.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2013
All rights reserved

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Loneliness is Epidemic

July 22nd, 2012

We all feel lonely from time to time.  For some people, especially the elderly, this is a real problem with serious health consequences. Increasingly, our society isolates people or people are just choosing to be alone.

Older people often have had spouses and friends die or move away.  Illness, disability, loss of mobility, lack of reliable transportation, and financial issues can contribute to seniors being alone.  And it’s not just the elderly that suffer.  Some people feel lonely due to geographical isolation.  If someone relocates to another country for a job, for example, they usually don’t bring their family and friends along.  Bullied children, or anyone who doesn’t fit in with the dominant society where they live, can experience social isolation which results in painful loneliness.

Even the most introverted among us need to feel connected to others.  It is at the core of what makes us human.  When we feel connected to others, we are more confident, happier, and productive members of society.

Without that critical social connection, many suffer from health problems.  According to research summarized in the Huffington Post UK, loneliness can shorten your lifespan and increase your risk of death from heart disease.  Lonely people can easily become depressed or feel anxious.

How can we combat loneliness in ourselves and in others?  It may be simpler than you realize.  Getting a pet can immediately lower your risk of depression and instantly provide a companion.  Volunteer.  Join a club.  Call up old friends.  Make new friends.

The internet is also a great tool to increase connection with others.  While the internet causes some people to isolate themselves further from society, it can help many people overcome debilitating loneliness.  Finding an online community of like-minded people can be incredibly empowering, especially if you are currently living someplace where you don’t identify with the dominant values or lifestyle.  It has never been easier to stay in contact with friends and family with the ubiquity of web-based tools like video chat and email.

If you currently feel happy and connected to others, that’s wonderful.  You are in a great position to reach out to those who are not so fortunate.  Do what you can to connect with others, especially the elderly.  Volunteer at an old folks’ home, your local veterans’ hospital, or a nonprofit that delivers meals to the elderly.  Call that crotchety, estranged relative, even if you don’t like them very much.  Stay in touch, take the time to visit old friends and relatives, and be kind to strangers – it’s good for their health and yours.

Finally, helping people deal with loneliness is a mega-marketing opportunity for the new millennium. Study after study confirms that relationships are a key ingredient for lasting happiness. Focus your new energy on creating products and services that reduce loneliness, build relationships, and help others to be happy. The rewards will be both philanthropic and monetary.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2012
All rights reserved

 

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Forgiveness

June 19th, 2011

Holding a grudge is hard work and stressful.  Forgiveness lightens your load and allows you to put your energies where it really matters.

There is growing research about the negative health effects of prolonged anger and bitterness. Ruminating on what others have said to you or have done to you is not healthy in the long run. In fact, this persistent mulling over of past words and deeds is a component of chronic stress, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and many other major mental health disorders.

Here are a few tips for getting on to forgiveness:

  1. Acknowledge the pain and the incident that caused it. Go ahead and write down all the details about what happened.
  2. Examine the offending party’s motivation or point of view. Why did this happen? What were they feeling?
  3. Take a moment and look back at an incident when you erred and someone forgave you.
  4. Next, decide to forgive.  Commit to letting go of the anger and bitterness.
  5. Stay focused on forgiveness. When the bad memories reappear, think about how good forgiveness feels.

By moving on to forgiveness, you give room for peace, hope, gratitude and joy. By choosing to let go of the negative emotions, your mind and body stop fighting. Physical symptoms may improve including a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate; you may even see a decline in allergies such as hives or chronic itching.

While the injury that you incurred may never go away, forgiveness will minimize the pain that lingers and it will make the past offense less important. Forgiving others can allow you to move on to new feelings of empathy and compassion for the other party. You will feel better because of it.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2011
All rights reserved

P. S.

Why the detour into armchair psychology? I have seen many entrepreneurs and corporate executives totally stalled in their careers, because of these negative emotions.  Instead of making life better with their creative skills, they wallow in anger while clinging to the hope of revenge. Life is short.

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Help Others Unconditionally

August 1st, 2009

The single most important thing that I have learned in my business career is that you need to help others unconditionally.

This means that when someone calls for help it is in your own best interest to help them. This might be giving a reference for a job seeker or it might be acting as a sounding board for a new business concept dreamed up by an entrepreneur. A colleague might need someone to talk to while in a personal crisis. My advice to you is to help them and expect nothing in return.

Yes, I am a capitalist. As a veteran peddler, the natural reaction is to consider a request for help as an indicator of a need to buy from the prospect. While it might be true, the real opportunity is in helping the other person and not selling your services. Focus your energies on the other party’s needs and not on your own.

While listening may be all the other person needs, I recommend doing more. That could include doing an email introduction, critiquing a business plan, or calling the other person back in a week or two to see how the project is going. That follow up call may be the most significant thing that you do since so few people care enough to take the time to do so.

My bet is that your colleague will be stunned and grateful by your generosity. It is my experience that they will give back to you in a variety of ways. It is reasonable that they will continue the relationship with you. Or, they may refer you or your business to others. If you have a product or service that they need, they will buy from you.

Your reward may not come right away. It might come much later or not at all. Some might argue the true gift is in the giving itself. I will leave that for you to decide.

My recommendation is to return every phone call. Answer every email. Make yourself available. Help others. Opportunity awaits you.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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