365 ways to energize – a daily companion to living with health, purpose, and joy

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Geneva is a great place to ‘leave.’

Day 147Less than 24-hour travel-dive – my new thing.

We jokingly say, “Geneva is such a great place to leave”. And it is true that, in addition to it being ranked this year as the city with the highest quality of living in the world, Geneva has another advantage, it is in the middle of Europe, which makes it so easy to – leave – and feasible to make quick trips to other places in Europe within an hour or two, either by car, train, or plane. Since Geneva is a quiet and small city, I find that leaving this little place from time to time and get a dose of some energy and pulse is very refreshing.

It is not always feasible, nor desirable, to be away for several days when traveling. Traveling often eats up a lot of time and it is easy to loose momentum with the projects one has going. That is why I decided to only do a 20-hour trip to visit a good old friend who has taken a sabbatical year in Paris from her hectic and busy life in Stockholm. She has lived in Paris with two of her children. This was a creative and courageous decision, and the year has offered her and her children tremendous value.

I spent 20 hours only in Paris, and I feel energized and inspired by this quick dive into my friend’s world in this mesmerizing city. I arrived yesterday in time to share a lovely lunch with her and another Parisian friend. We sat outside in a courtyard and had a glass of rosé and agreed, “this is life” – to have this opportunity to sip rosé on a Wednesday in lovely sunshine and eat a delicious French meal in Paris.

It might sound like too hectic to be away only 20 hours, but we truly spent quality time together (and I worked both on my way there and back, so I did not loose any time). One of the fun highlights was that we exercised with a fantastic personal trainer in a nearby park, which was filled with lots of people. It was great fun to be amongst all the local Parisians who were running and exercising or just lying around in the grass. We ate a delicious dinner outside in the courtyard/terrace at Costes, (we Scandinavians are very fan of eating outside when possible, for obvious reasons) a beautiful restaurant with super food, interesting people and an almost mystical ambiance, (rare to find in Geneva).

I had a good night sleep in my friend’s lovely apartment and even had time for a nice chat at breakfast before taking a 40 min flight back.

Short trips can quickly give you inspiration and energy, and can easily, and maybe even preferably, be done alone.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” St. Augustine


Freedom gives energy

Day 137Yes you can!

My body scrunches, when someone says, “you can’t do that” or “you have to do this.” It is a revealing sign that a value is important, when our body talks to us.

One of my highest values is freedom. It is also a top values of my husband – luckily enough. This value has directed many of our major life choices; such as wanting to work for ourselves, living abroad, adventurous travel, etc. This value also impact our behavior at work, towards each other, our children, and our friends and even our ways with our animals – our dog Lucky has walked without a leash forever.

I asked my husband when we were out for a walk on the lovely Swiss countryside along green and flower fields with snow capped peaks in the background, how his value of freedom impacts how he lead people in his company. It was very interesting to hear his answer. He says that he believes that one of the reasons people like to work in the company and seldom quit, is that employees have freedom to do their own things. The company is built on respect and trust and a belief that each person who receives the freedom to find their own way, will also feel more empowered and will be more resourceful, creative, productive and responsible. There are of course frameworks and guidelines within the company, but leaders do not watch over the employee’s’ shoulders.

When an employee introduces a new idea, the goal is to provide opportunities to try and test the idea. By giving them freedom to explore, it will inspire responsibility, engagement, and creativity. The ideas might turn out great and if it does not turns out so well, then the person will have learned much better by trial and error, rather than having been told that the idea was bad. That could very well have been discouraging impacting their energy, creativity and engagement in the future and as a byproduct, their productivity.

Most Swedish organizations operate with a relatively flat organization structure, which promotes independence, creativity and responsibility, with the aim to achieve higher productivity, retention and profitability and not to forget, more happiness at work.

I like this quote and find it funny, “If you were meant to be controlled you would have come with a remote.”

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Ways to produce natural high energy

Day 130What does a life without stimulants feel like?

How much energy do we create through our activities (exercising, sleeping, things we love, time with friends etc), and how much energy is derived from what we eat and drink, such as healthy nutritious food vs. sweets, chocolate, coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol?

I am about to find out for myself how much energy I produce naturally, from just eating and living healthy, as I am today beginning a two-week ‘stimulant break ’.

I used to love drinking a couple of cappuccinos each day, before I became aware that caffeine was making me feel jittery. When I later made the connection, I exchanged caffeine for tea and mostly green tea, which is rich in antioxidants and have several other benefits.

At first, exchanging coffee for tea made a huge impact on my inner sense of calm and wellbeing, but this was until I became a heavy tea drinker…. Green tea also contains caffeine and little did I know that I consumed so much tea that it had a negative effect on my adrenals, which got triggered too often – and this rubbed my overall hormonal balance.

During May of last year, I decided to give myself a little cleanse by taking a couple of weeks break from black and green tea, plus coffee and alcohol and anything containing sugar, so no fruit, no white starches, no chocolate etc.

It was an interesting experience. I very much enjoyed challenging myself by being disciplined, and I was curious about the possible effect it would have on me.

What I learned about myself was important and not at all what I had expected. I realized that the main reason why I often woke up very early in the morning, around 4am, was my tea and sometimes coffee intake during the day – not that I went to bed too early or was thinking or worrying too much. I was positively surprised that one of the benefits of taking a break from these stimulants was that I would sleep sound throughout the night. It was a huge blessing for me.

I was so happy being able to sleep like a baby again so I extended the brake from tea and coffee and continued drinking herbal teas for months. I slowly got back into drinking green and black tea after several months and then less strong and fewer cups.

A year has gone by since my first experiment and I feel inclined to do one again. Springtime is a good time to do a little cleanse.

I am looking forward to a good night with deep sleep and feeling naturally refreshed in the morning.

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Give it all – and have a ball, or change your job this fall…

Day 109Live with passion!

How wonderful it is to meet with people that are passionate about what they do!

Every time I meet someone, or have the chance to be a client of someone that that loves what they do, they truly stand out and make such an impact on me.

Passionate people that I have encountered through the years – train conductors, taxi drivers, nurses, doctors, carpenters, teachers, artists, chefs, hairdressers, singers, coaches, consultants etc, have left a mark with their professionalism and presence. Those that are passionate in what they do never seem to get tired, or even impatient, as they exude a pleasure to create and or to serve to a degree that makes a noticeable difference.

Passionate people exude 100% devotion and engagement in what they do and their whole being radiates a luminous light that is very attractive as well.

I spent the whole day today with an inspiring team of architects, interior designers and project leaders that exuded this type of passionate devotion. What an experience it was!

I wish we all will find that which we can truly feel passionate about in our daily engagement, as it makes all the difference to our sense of joy, energy and professionalism.

If you do not feel passionate about what you do, it is time to change. All research indicate we only got one life, and even if it turns out that we have two lives, why take the chance to waste one of our precious lives…

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Social arousal…

Day 94

The joy of gratifying social connections

I am feeling energetically high and alive after a very nice lunch and birthday celebration with good old friends, recent friends, as well as totally new connections.

The older we get, the more intimate we become with our friends.

As we approach mature adulthood, friends relate to each other without comparison and competition. We do not put ourselves above or below anyone – but connect in an accepting, warm and loving way. I love that!

The beauty of maturity is that we feel and are comfortable in our own skin. When we accept ourselves, we open up and share who we are without inhibitions. We become givers of our authentic selves and all what we value and are passionate about. We dear to be real – to share, to laugh, to cry, to hug and to speak our minds. Together we establish a easy going and free-spirited atmosphere with an expanding energy.

How sweet it is!

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Day 90/365  – The joy and benefit of meditation

Day 90Inner calm and a quiet mind go hand in hand.

This blog is about the power of meditation and is the 4th blog post that introduces stress reduction techniques written in the past five days.

Meditation gives me about the same pleasure as exercising. It is almost hard for me to believe that I can say that – because I truly love to exercise.

Meditation brings me serenity, conscious awareness, introspection and inner peace. Mediation has opened to an inner life that is very precious. Through meditation I have realized that I have what I need within, and – during the moment of meditation – that I do not need anything, or anyone to make me happy. This state of contentment I have during my 20 minutes colors my day in a brighter light.

When I close my eyes and go inside, and peace wash over me I feel bliss and contentment. (Having said that, I would never want to withdraw and live solely in meditative existence, that would be too boring; life has way much more to offer.

The mornings I begin with 20 minutes of mediation, I set myself up for living in alignment with my body, mind, heart and soul, which helps me become focused and productive, and to operate in harmony with the people in my surrounding. If I haven’t meditated, I am perhaps more into my own things and am less receptive and perceptive.

The afternoon meditations offer me something different. In the afternoons when I return to another 20 minutes of meditation, I recharge my energy and wellbeing to feel alert and awake throughout the evening. (In the past before I began to meditate, I would often feel tired in the afternoons and evenings).

I have been introduced to several types of meditation and each time it has had a different and profound impact on the quality of my life.

The first time I was introduced to the world of meditation I was 16 years old. I took the initiative to invite my friends to join me in taking a course. That was 33 years ago. I had no idea at the time what it would give me. I was just curious, and it sounded exciting to try something mystical and different. This experience impacted me and opened me to be more curious about my inner world. The course did not inspire me to get into a regular meditation practice, but I learned how to relax my body better and I was very happy to share my learning’s with friends who for example had difficulty falling asleep. Little did I know at the time, that I would in my thirties take a Master in holistic health education and enthusiastically teach and support people living with health, purpose & joy.

When I was in my twenties I was ones again called to refresh my meditation skills. At the time I worked as a management consultant, which was quite stressful. I was often very tired in the afternoons and evening and I, like most people, would drink coffee and eat sweats to stay awake. I longed for a way to optimize my brainpower, energy and yet feel calm. The course I took this time around, moved me into a daily discipline; I meditated ones per day for more than ten years, which opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities and energy.

When I moved to Switzerland in my late thirties, I stopped my regular meditation practice for several years – until I ones again seeked a teacher to get inspired, and then re-committed to a daily practice.

Today I attempt to meditate twice daily as I learned (and experience) that the benefit manifolds.

To those of you who are curious about the benefit of mediation, you might find this study done by Harvard University Interesting;

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Breathe your way to inner peace

Day 89

Sleeping tight and inner peace is something that concerns us all.

My husband shared with me this morning that he had woken up in the middle of the night with a thousands thoughts roaming in his head about the things he has on his plate to do these days. He was worried that he would not fall back asleep, as he really needs to feel rested to be able to address all of the things going on.

Most of us can probably recognize that when we feel we have too much going on and our sleep is disturbed – we can get into a vicious cycle – where we feel we are behind, which impacts our subconscious and wake us in our sleep, we feel tired in the morning; we then get less done, and so it continues.

My husband though, remembered my blog post from yesterday, and decided to calmly breathe deeply into his belly. After about fifteen minutes of deep long breaths lying on his back, he turned on his side and took a few more long deep breaths and then fell back to sleep. When he woke up this morning, he was quite surprised that he had managed to fall asleep quite easily by just focusing on his breath.

If I feel overwhelmed and need to rest, I also engage in deep long breaths like my husband did. Sometimes I take deep breaths into the nose, hold it for about 8-10 seconds and then breath out very slowly through the nose.

When I want to add one more dimension, I sit with a straight back and breathe in, touch my chin towards the chest, then I pull up the perineum and suck in my stomach, which expands the diaphragm and chest. I hold my breath for 8-10 seconds, then lift my chin back up calmly and breathe out very slowly. After repeating this 3-5 times, I notice a big shift in my sense of inner peace. The calmness I feel, prepares me for going into meditation, or makes me focused and concentrated on work.

Tomorrow I will be sharing the power of meditation.