BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 4

The intent of BtoB Matters is to share “tidbits to show the integration of wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development make a difference”.  This issue integrates ideas about how our openness to learn and our character traits contribute to a “good life”. Consider how aspects discussed this month can influence all components of wellness (intellectual, emotional, social, physical, spiritual, occupational, and environmental). 

Why Understanding These Four Types of Mistakes Can Help Us Learn

Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are part of life. Mistakes are a part of growing and changing. Mistakes can be a blessing in disguise.  Our mistakes and failures are a gift, a jewel, a signpost for our learning and growth as human beings.

If we are willing to view our mistakes as teachable moments and opportunities, we can enhance our lifelong learning and personal development.  Learning from our mistakes helps us create a greater awareness of who we really are and what we want out of life.

The willingness and openness to accept mistakes and learn from these influences the ability to achieve your personal and professional goals.  The process of moving through trial and error to trial and succeed help us discover:

**who we are,
**what we can do,
**our limits,
**our abilities.

Reflect upon what you have done to change your life experiences based on mistakes and the solutions you create to make a change. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are…valuable life lessons.

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. – Theodore Roosevelt

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein

Read the full article: Why Understanding These Four Types of Mistakes Can Help Us Learn
To learn the most from our mistakes we need to reflect on our errors and extract lessons from them.

Read more on the topic: Don’t Fear Failure: Nine Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes
Our mistakes and failures are gifts, gems, guideposts in our learning and growth as people. So embrace failures, mistakes, screw ups and shortcomings because they not only make us uniquely who we are, but also teach us powerful lessons 

10 Positive Character Traits Parents Should Teach Kids

Character development is a lifelong journey.  Your personality, morals, and beliefs guide the path you take. We are all a consumer, learner, developing human, perceiver, inhabitant, and participant in life.  This diversity of experiences influences individual character development. Character traits define the essence of a person. 

Woodrow Wilson (in Princeton Alumni Weekly volume 65, no. 29 June 8, 1965) describes how life influences learning and development.

“The mind does not live by instruction. The real intellectual life of a body of undergraduates manifests itself not in the classroom, but in what they do and talk of and set before themselves as their favorite objects between classes and lectures. If you wish to create a college, and are wise, you will seek to create a life…my plea, then, is this: that we reorganize our colleges on the lines of the simple conception, that a college is not only a body of studies, but a mode of association…it must become a community of scholars and pupils”

In my October 2019 blog Student Development and Learning: It Takes a Village I share how we can all put the above quote into action. Learning, personal, and character development takes place through discovery.  In my July 2020 blog Forming Values Throughout Life, I share the idea that the values for student and professional leaders are similar.  

As you journey through life, formation of character traits evolves to allow you to live your life to the fullest.  To “teach” character development to your children and students you need to “walk the walk” and live them yourself.

Read the full article: 10 Positive Character Traits Parents Should Teach Kids
As a Parent, We Want What’s Best For Our Kids. But if We Truly Want Them to Succeed in Life, We’ll Invest in Helping Them Develop Key Character Traits That Will Guide Them For the Rest of Their Life.

Read more on the topic: Positive Character Traits are Lifelong Assets
Moral principles guide our thoughts, emotions, and actions. We can become happy and successful in life. Having positive character traits enhance our ability to form a pleasant personality. You should develop a personal value system. It will help you to determine your life goals. It makes your life meaningful and worth living.
NOTE:  Click on 14 Benefits of Positive Traits and How to Develop Positive Character Traits to see how character development is a lifelong endeavor. 

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

To be what we are and become what are capable to becoming, it the only end of life.
Robert Louis Stevenson

The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.  Being alive is the meaning.
Joseph Campbell

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.
David Viscott

Take 15 minutes to watch the videos below.

In What is “the good life”? similarities between different cultures explains what “the good life” means for everyone.

In 5 Lessons To Live By Wayne Dyer outlines his 5 Principles of a good life:
1. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
2. There are no justified resentments
3. What you think is what you become
4. Be open to everything and attached to nothing
5. Don’t die with music still in you.

Read the full article: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness
What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

Read more on the topic: 10 Steps to Savoring the Good Things in Life
“It’s been presumed that when good things happen, people naturally feel joy for it,” says Fred Bryant, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago. His research, however, suggests that we don’t always respond to these “good things” in ways that maximize their positive effects on our lives.

The word wellbeing is about the search for what gives you meaning and happiness in life. It is about bringing happiness into your life from within and finding meaning and purpose in your everyday activities. Every human being strives to live a meaningful life.

To have a good life, you must first believe you are a person worthy of happiness. Character traits define values. Have the integrity to be true to yourself based on time-tested principles and self-reflection grounded in an openness to learn.  

What are the primary factors to define “your” good life?

More April Feature Articles include:

Can you solve Einstein’s Riddle?
Before he turned physics upside down, a young Albert Einstein showed off his genius by devising a complex riddle involving a stolen exotic fish and a long list of suspects. Dan Van der Vieren shows how to solve this riddle.

45 Life Lessons From A 90-Year-Old
Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift. Wisdom of elders is humbling. When they speak, we are like children again, cross legged, starry eyed, taking in & analyzing every word (ARC21).

BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 3

The two hemispheres of the brain function differently but there is integration of the left (verbal and analytical) and right (visual and intuitive) as they work together and complement each other (Weatherspoon, 2019).  The Feature Articles this month show ways the left and right brain work together to form habits and enhance personal development.  Below I share my thoughts on creating habits, writing by hand, and why people who doodle pay more attention.

Creating Healthy Habits That Last

Creating habits for an integrated life is one of the most important concepts to as you pursue your personal development journey. Personal development is about the integration of your beliefs, values, and principles.  Information, knowledge, people, places, and the experiences of life guide this integration.  What does it really mean to live an integrated life? It means you are using all these elements in your personal development journey.  Creating habits for an integrated life begins with choosing the right goals. These goals need to align with your core values.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. – James A. Michener

Consider the idea that all habits are seen as patterns. You can learn new habits, put them into practice. Creating habits for an integrated life means finding the right patterns to adopt. 

Read the full article: Creating Healthy Habits That Last
Read more on the topic: How To Make Good Habits Stick: 11 Secrets From Research

Writing by Hand Boosts Brain Activity and Fine Motor Skills

Write or type??  Type or write??  Which is your preference?  

Handwriting is one of humanity’s most amazing and most influential inventions. It is rooted in artistic representation— images etched in sand, rocks, and walls that eventually morphed into letterforms. When we write by hand, we are still performing that ancient act of using our hands to recreate what’s in our minds (Bash, 2016 para. 3).

Writing by hand…
**releases your creativity because your brain is given time to explore ideas and to expand on connections between different images and thoughts.
**forces you to sort out what is important and what is not.
**helps the brain connect images and words in your memory.
**stimulates both sides of your brain.
**helps you to create flow. Flow is simply a mechanism in which ideas start blending and connecting.
**improves your fine motor skills. 

Writing by hand, strengthens the ability to concentrate, creates a clearer mind, and even boosts memory. The outcome of writing by hand is the ability to focus, understand, and learn (Carlyle, 2019; Gayomali, 2015; Neera, 2020).   

Writing by hand is more than a physical effort of putting pen to paper…it is a workout for your brain.

Read the full article: Writing by Hand Boosts Brain Activity and Fine Motor Skills
Read more on the topic: 16 Powerful Benefits of Writing by Hand

Why People Who Doodle Pay More Attention

Creative thinking is the ability to see things in a new way. It is about learning and acquiring knowledge. Creative thinking is about how you perceive a subject or a situation. What you are doing when you are doodling is immersing yourself into a new form of thinking; an experience that will open your mind and transform your learning. Doodling allows for exploration of personal creativity and provides a unique learning experience.  Developing a personal visual vocabulary help process information.

According to Sunni Brown, author of “The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently“, doodling is thought to stimulate areas of the brain which normally remain dormant when you’re just in linguistic mode. This can help you to analyze information differently. When you doodle “you are lighting up different networks in the brain” and “engaging different information.” This can lead to “ah-ha” moments when the solution to a problem you’ve been struggling with suddenly becomes evident (Fabrega, n.d.).

Read the full article: Why People Who Doodle Pay More Attention
Read more on the topic: Doodlers, unite!!

Habit formation is a system of patterns and a mechanism for accountability to reach your personal goals. Through a blending of logic and creativity, the right and left brain working together, patterns develop and habits will become second nature.

More March Featured Articles include:

16 Facial Expressions Most Common to Emotional Situations Worldwide
“This study reveals how remarkably similar people are in different corners of the world in how we express emotion in the face of the most meaningful contexts of our lives.” NOTE: For those who may be interested there is a link at the end of the article to read the full study.

Learn Better with 10 Ways to Be a Better Learner
Jeff Cobb (2012) published 10 Ways to Be a Better Learner.  This book is brief, action-oriented guide, grounded in research, to help you become a better learner.  Here are links to additional resources for each chapter. 

BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 2

In my blog Oh the Places You Will Go I wrote: 

In the mid-1800s Abraham Lincoln stated, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” My perspective of Lincoln’s quote is that undertaking self-improvement throughout life is the aim of enhancing knowledge, skills, and competences. Lifelong learning is a continuous development and improvement process aimed at personal fulfillment.  The result of this effort will be a life well lived.

The Feature Articles this month shows that integration of life and self-improvement can come from a variety of experiences.  Below I share my thoughts on benefits of small talk, power of introverts, and how making art contributes to well-being.

The Big Benefits of Small Talk

Small talk or chit chat is often a way to start a conversation. Casual conversations can sometimes lead us to moments of real connection. Small talk can also be a gift that we give each other. Even conversations that appear inconsequential can be profound (Halton, 2020).

Finding common interests is the core of tapping into your ability to carry on casual conversations. The ability to start small talk through common interest is the anchor to relationship building. You build rapport, and it is where you also build trust. Moving from topic to topic without getting bogged down with lengthy details guides small talk toward a launching pad toward engaging interactions with others.  

In addition, listening is one of the most important skills you need when trying to master small talk. Through thoughtful and attentive listening you will discover commonalities which builds rapport and shows respect for the person you are talking to. If the discussion is on a topic, you know about, the best way to enhance the conversion is to listen first and ask open-ended questions. Always make you questions supportive, not challenging. Instead of saying: “I don’t think you are correct with your opinion”, we can say “That’s an interesting point, what do you think about this idea” (McCarthy, 2020).

Small talk can enhance your wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development.

One of the first benefits is that small talk can be a great social function for you and your friends. This can be a chance for you to get to know other people who share similar interests. For example, if you love gardening, then finding someone who enjoys talking about plants and growing them can be a fun way to bring an additional element to your conversations. Similarly, if you enjoy music or spending time with musicians, small talk with people who share similar interests can enrich your social experience.

While most people use small talk to make acquaintances and establish bonds, some use it as a form of intimacy. I enjoy the opportunity to learn about another person. Our discussions deepen our understanding of each other’s thoughts and feelings.

Talking about stuff that matters is good for you and good for the person you are chatting with. Try to have at least five substantive conversations a week—not only will they boost your spirits, they will open your mind (Boardman, n.d.)

Read the full article: The Big Benefits of Small Talk
Read more on the topic: An Introvert’s Guide To Small Talk: Eight Painless Tips and
8 Ways to Make Meaningful Small Talk

The Power of Introverts

Introverts are often thought of as timid people that dislike social activities or are shy. However, introverts are not shy, quite the contrary. Introverts are self-confident, assured, directed, and sufficient individuals. Introverts thrive in a small group environment where there is a level of comfort and security. Both introverts and extroverts thrive and achieve success in groups and in isolated situations.

When thinking about the personality spectrum, introvert and extrovert are most familiar. However, no one is a pure introvert or extrovert. We live a hybrid style/flexible style that is situation specific known as ambivert; a blending of introvert and extrovert traits. Combining, blending, and integrating aspects of life requires social adaptability. This is the core strength of an ambivert.  

Read the full article: The Power of Introverts
Read more on the topic:  Are you an Ambivert, Introvert, or Extrovert? Learn the science behind your personality and
The Introvert and the Extrovert (Collaboration)
NOTE: See the image How to Care for Extroverts/Introverts (you may find that you appreciate aspects from each list).

What Happens in Your Brain When You Make Art?

The Split Brain Theory (Sperry, 1960), identified the specialized behaviors of the right (creative, spatial and visual thinkers) and left hemisphere (logical, analytical, and word oriented). Recent research (Brincat et al., 2021; Corballis, 2014; Nielsen et al., 2013;) support that idea that the left brain and right brain rely on each other and there is “interhemispheric communication”.  There are several types of stimuli that have proven effective at stimulating creativity and the brain. Paintings, drawings, video art and audio art all require the use of the right side of the brain, which deals with emotions and ideas, along with the left side of the brain, which deals with logic and precise detail. 

Creativity and the ability to see a task through to completion depend on a steady stream of ideas from the creative side of the brain and the analytical side. Music, solving problems, and movement along with artistic endeavors stimulate creativity and analysis…using the right and left brain. Many of us engage in artistic and creative activities because we enjoy them, but did you know that art and creativity also have significant wellness and personal development benefits?

Stuckey and Noble (2010) completed a meta-analysis of over 100 studies and found creative expression to have a strong positive influence on health and well-being. A growing body of research (Benefits of Creativity, 2018: Grigonis, 2018: and Martin, n.d.) focuses on the role creativity plays in the development of mental health and its health implications. Researchers have found that the way creativity affects the brain and body leads to increased mood, reduced anxiety, increased cognitive function, reduced risk of chronic disease, and improved immune health. In this study, cognitive neuroscientists find that by creating art, people can create a positive state of mind in themselves. For example, the researchers examined the effects of visual arts using biofeedback to find it promotes health or well-being and promotes an adaptive response to stress. 

Creative hobbies not only contribute to brain health, but creativity allows people to change their perspective on life.

A handmade life is a beautiful, happier and healthier life (Winnicot, n.d.).

Read the full article: What Happens in Your Brain When You Make Art
Read more on the topic: Feeling Artsy? Here’s How Making Art Helps Your Brain

Lifelong learning and personal development is an individual pursuit to find your own path.  Choices made to guide the path taken differ with each of us…”one size rarely fits all”.  

More February Feature Articles include:

10 Keys to Happier Living

Critical Thinking Skills

BtoB Matters Vol.1, No. 1

The first year and a half of Blooms to Blossoms I wrote about the integration of wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development from a personal perspective. During this time, a network of colleagues and friends made contributions to building our community of scholars, practitioners, and pupils. Entering 2021, my primary goal is to add to the knowledge base focusing on this integration.  Part of my work will be through co-creating content by expanding on the work of those in my ever-growing network.  

There are two objectives for BtoB Matters:

**To share information about the integration of wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development, and
**To show that this integration can make a difference in life.

The first of each month I post feature articles on the Blooms to Blossoms homepage and in The Hive.  I plan to use BtoB Matters to share thoughts, ideas, and personal perspectives to extend and broaden the meaning within these articles.  

Learn Like an Athlete

If you are thinking about learning something new and challenging yourself with it, there is no better way than by learning like an athlete. Athletes train. Musicians train. Performers train.  Why not you?  

Whatever path you take to learn, you should think like an athlete and practice like one as well.  A practical, functional, and sequential process along with a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses will guide your learning.  Developing a self-directed learning plan allows you to learn at your own pace, build up your self-confidence, and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

How do you train yourself to become a better learner? You train yourself by finding out what questions to ask yourself and how to answer them, and then you train yourself to find the right answers. The second part of the learning plan is not so much what you do, but how you do it. When you are in a classroom or with a group of people learning something new consider these three practices: 

**take the time to listen carefully, 
**take part in the discussions, and 
**ask questions to gain a deeper understanding.

The key to a lifelong self-directed learning plan is to apply these principles to your personal goals and objectives.

Read the full article: Learn Like an Athlete
Read more on the topic: The Montessori Method: A Self-Education Mindset for Creating Innovators 

Improvement and Tending a Garden

Self-improvement means working on your abilities and talents and working to become the best version of yourself you can be. This may seem like an impossible task, but it is something that is best done step by step. Personal growth is a never-ending journey, as you strive to become a better version of yourself, no matter how great you are already.  If you decide to take a journey of self-improvement, the goals you set should be realistic and straightforward.  Setting milestones is a way to achieve gradual success to encourage more self-improvement. Combine these minor victories with the consistent application of what you learn through your personal development journey.

Remember, the plan you develop should allow for adjustments along the way. Lifelong learning and personal development will take patience, commitment, determination, and perseverance. Personal growth is a journey that does not end. You continue to change your mindset, so it matches your goals.

Read the full article:  In 100 Words: Improvement and Tending a Garden
Read more on the topic: Life is Like a Garden

Why Do We Feel Nostalgia?

Childhood memories play a vital role in forming one’s identity, and this holds true for adults as well. Past experiences shape us and our behavior.  Today we reflect on why the act of remembering can help us search for meaning and to rewrite the history of our lives. Nostalgia connects our past and present selves. Nostalgia can give us a positive view of the past. Indulging in nostalgia can help us gain a greater sense of continuity and meaning in life. It can uniquely enable us to communicate a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationships with our family, friends, colleagues, and even the world.

“We are living in a time of change and instability right now. Nostalgia can actually be a stabilizing force for us. Studies have shown that people with a greater propensity for nostalgia are better able to cope with adversity and are more likely to seek emotional support, advice and practical help from others. It’s shown to boost a person’s mood, reduce stress, increase feelings of social connectedness to others and offer optimism about the future. Research shows nostalgia makes people feel loved and valued and increases perceptions of social support when people are lonely”  Nelson-Simley, 2020, para. 4).

View the video: Why Do We Feel Nostalgia?
Read more on the topic:  Are Your Feeling Nostalgic These Days?

The concepts of how the pieces of life are integrated and impact the quality of life and learning is of deep interest to me.  In the first issue of BtoB Matters I offer some insights and additional readings on the topics of learning, improving, and how the past influences the present and future.  It is my hope that you find BtoB Matters interesting and useful.  

More January Feature Articles include:

Happier January

Mental Dynamics: How to Constantly Change and Evolve Your Mindset

Five Surprising Ways Exercise Changes Your Brain

Forming Values Throughout Life

I sorted through some files last week and found a document I posted on my bulletin board in every office I had for my entire work life.  This document titled “Values for Students and Professional Leaders” is from a 1993 academic journal.  I find it interesting that 25 years later the values continue to be applicable today as desired outcomes of education and for society.  The values document was a “clip and save” page included in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association journal.  

Prior blogs, July 2019, and October 2019, I wrote about the connection of the academic/co-curricular experience for student learning and development.  It is passe’ to not think there is educational value to all aspects of life and that learning takes place beyond the traditional classroom setting.  Sociability, transmission of and adherence to values, and enhancement of self-identity are a few points that stand out when I think about the effect of the thoughtful integration of the academic/co-curricular experiences on student development. Learning products include development of sportsmanship, adjustment, and modification of reactions to others and their ideas, commitment to development of skills and abilities, and mental adjustments made through success and failure. 

Chickering (1976, 1993) defines experiential learning as the learning that occurs when changes in judgements, feelings, knowledge, and skills result from active engagement in life.  Kerner (2018) cites advantages of experiential learning include:

  • Ability to immediately apply knowledge
  • Access to real-time coaching
  • Promotion of teamwork and communication skills
  • Development of reflective practice habits

Mercer (2019) writes about upholding values today.  She shares a perspective that society needs more empathy, respect, love, loyalty, and honesty.

Empathy – Empathy is defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of another. People need to understand who others are and accept who they are.  Focusing on how we can grow together should be our ultimate goal.

Respect – Mutual respect is needed for all of us. This is what makes us human. Having respect for everyone, despite the differences between us, is vital in order for a society to function well.

Love – Having love in our hearts keeps us from feeling the need to harm others. Love helps us acknowledge the similarities we all share rather than the differences of color, religion or sexual orientation.

Loyalty – Loyalty is a value that binds us to a person, thing or sentiment. With loyalty, we do not betray. If we all shared loyalty, it would help us build the strength needed to stand up against something that would harm our society.

Honesty – One form of honesty in society is accepting yourself. With honesty, you can admit your flaws and take the necessary steps to improve yourself. When we can admit to our flaws it can help someone else admit theirs. Ultimately, we can all help each other become better people.

My point is that the integration of academic/co-curricular experiences and active engagement in life creates knowledge and values. Use the twelve values listed above and consider if these are values you uphold.  What experiences (in the classroom, out-of-class experience, living life) reinforce each?   

Take the idea above a step further and consider the three steps below.

Step 1: Creation of your values
**How did you form your values?

Step 2: Identification of your values
**What are your values?  Why do they matter? 

Step 3: Application of your values
How do you…

** define your personal values?
**prioritize your values?
**live your values with integrity?  
**use your values to guide decision-making?
**adapt and change your values when needed?

Stay Calm, Connected, & Active: Stay Positive

Don’t wait for things to get easier, simpler, better.  
Life will always be complicated.  
Learn to be happy right now.  
Otherwise, you’ll run out of time.  Unknown.

Last week in my blog I mentioned that I was “trying to keep my glass half full as I savor the moments of each day.”   As I continue on this path, I was thinking about how our perspective affects our attitude.  Jantz (2014) writes about 6 Ways to Become More Positive.  His main contention is “perspective is destiny”. With that in mind, I reviewed several articles in one of my “go to” sources for stories on diverse topics related to my blog purpose; Thrive Global.  I did a basic search on topics about staying positive.  I was interested to read how others, along with Jantz, discuss the impact of perspective on attitude.  

One article of particular interest, because of the Covid-19 life we have been living the last couple months, was Safarian (2020), 10 Things You Can Do to Stay Positive During COVID-19: Keeping Calm in the Time of Corona.

Below is a sketchnote outlining the key components of her article, followed by a summary in narrative form.  I want to share these ideas because COVID-19 or not, these elements are 10 things to help you stay positive in life.  As Jantz says, “perspective is destiny.”

Looking at life from a different perspective makes you realize that it’s not the deer that is crossing the road, rather it’s the road that is crossing the forest.  Muhammad Ali

The intent of positive thinking is not a pollyanna approach to life; bad things happen to all of us.  Having a positive attitude or finding the good in each day is an approach to enhance your overall wellness. There are physiological, psychological, and even physical benefits to positive thinking all contributing to living the healthiest life possible.  Consider Harry Truman’s quote as you reflect on the 10 factors introduced by Safarian. 

Be grateful, positive, slow down, relax, exercise, leverage your community, breathe, find humor, know when to walk away, and have faith in yourself and others.

 “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”  

Unlocking Your Potential in Solitude

Being alone is much different than being lonely; perspective is the key.  Quality time alone can be beneficial to well-being. Cherry (2020, para. 2) acknowledges that social connectivity and solitude are both virtues of a healthy life.  She discusses the benefits of findings things to do by yourself by stating, “Doing things by yourself allows you to enjoy activities you love at your own pace and in your own way. Through solitary pursuits, you learn more about yourself and reflect on your experiences.”  

Thrive Global is an online magazine launched by Arianna Huffington (2007).  The goal is to “create something real and tangible that would help individuals, companies and communities improve their well-being and performance and unlock their greatest potential.” The magazine’s Stories section includes topics on Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder, Purpose, Sleep, Special Sections, and Community.

Some of the topics included in the Special Sections are mental health, meditative stories, work-life balance, wellbeing, social change, and never stop learning. Freelance writers, myself included, publish articles to Thrive’s Community section.

As I mentioned last week, “I am actually someone who likes to stay at home however it has been a bit challenging when the decisions to stay at home is not solely my own.”  I initially found the solitude of social-distance/stay at home situation to be a bit challenging but have now embraced the opportunities provided by this time. Last week there were a couple Thrive articles I thought would be worth sharing.  These are timely based on the current social-distancing guidelines/stay in place policy and the isolation some may be feeling.  

Swantkoski’s (2020)  article, 4 Lessons I’ve Learned From Social Distancing: Adjusting my mindset has allowed me to stay optimistic during this time, discusses the following four key points.

**Now is a great time to think about priorities.
**We always say we don’t have time, but the truth is, we don’t make the time.
**You cannot control what happens, but you can control how you react to it.
**You won’t ever get this time back, so make the most of it – whatever that means to you.

Most of us are finding ourselves having more free time than we’ve ever had and may ever have again. Time is the only thing we can never get back, and we should make the most of it. For some, this will be a season full of extra rest. Others may want to be productive either personally or professionally. Some will develop new hobbies and interests during this time. No matter how you choose to spend this time, do in your heart what’s best for you and don’t forget to make the most of it.

Friedrich (1822)  The framework of the window links proximity and distance and evokes a longing for the unknown.  The outward gaze, contemplating nature, also turns inwards towards the individual’s own spiritual center.

Leon’s (2020) article Why I’m Focusing on Seeing the Upside: The pandemic is making me take a step back and appreciate small moments of positivity, discusses the following five key points.


I’ve found that in my fifty years of life, optimism has never prevented me from hard times and heartache. But like with faith, it helps me rise up and find a way to live a life worth living after I’ve fallen. This crisis is huge and hard and sad, but I’m positive we will get through it together, laughing, changing, innovating, being real, and spreading cheer all the while.

Friedrich (1818) Standing in contemplation and self-reflection the wanderer considers moments about the unforeseen future. By placing his back toward the viewer he is not shutting them out – rather he enables them to see the world through his own eyes, to share and convey his personal experience.

Cherry (2020) concludes by stating, “Alone time is for focusing on you—for cultivating your passions, finding new inspirations, getting to know yourself better, or even engaging in some much-needed rest and relaxation.”

Creativity: Untapped Potential

One of the reasons, I believe, my career path led me to work in higher education research is that I ask lot of questions and am observant.  It is interesting to consider that these two characteristics are also common descriptors of a creative person.  Cherry (2019a), Ossola (2014), and Sutton (2017) support the idea that research and creativity go hand in hand.  

According to cognitive psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, creativity can be broadly defined as “the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile.” Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn’t a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. 

In October I posted a question on my personal Facebook page.

“What is Creativity? Have you ever thought about how creative you are??”

As you might expect there are several “tools” to measure creativeness.  I am on the fence about if we “can trust” such tests.  However, for the fun of it I thought I would complete three of the “how creative are you” quizzes (see Notes below). Being a “gatherer of credible information” I also researched the idea of creative potential which led me to the writings of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  He is noted for his work on happiness and creativity with research specifically focusing on how people access their creative potential.  Cherry (2019b) and Hoage (2013) summarize the 10 characteristics of creative people outlined in his book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (ppg. 59-73).

Creative People Are:Description
Energetic, but FocusedBoth physical & mental energy; enthusiastic about tasks
Smart, but Also NaiveFlexibility & fluidity of ideas; consider various perspectives; sees associations; imaginative & curious
Playful, Yet DisciplinedLighthearted while maintaining perseverance; determination
Realistic DreamersDaydreams grounded in reality
Extroverted and Introverted
Social & quiet; interactive with others for inspiration & reflect in private
Proud, Yet ModestRespects others work; thrive on personal successes but focus on the next project/idea
Not Weighed Down by Rigid Gender RolesDominance and sensitivity cross common gender roles; strengths of both genders are highlighted
Conservative, Yet RebelliousEmbraces the past yet seeks ways to improve and modify; conservative traits while taking risks to innovate
Passionate, but Objective About Their WorkWillingness to be critical of own work and seek constructive input from others
Sensitive and Open to Experience, but Happy and JoyfulCreative outcomes is the reward for struggles of the process (internal and external feedback)

Creativity Quizzes I Completed

How Creative Are You by Uzzi from Kellogg School of Management, created a short quiz (40 items) as a self-directed measurement tool.  This tool determines “if you have the personality traits, attitudes, values, motivations, and interests that characterize creativity.”

Test My Creativity by AULIVE measures personal creativity.  AULIVE is business focused collection of “hands-on tools and a systematic method designed to demystify and systematize the space of creativity, innovation and value creation.”

The Creative Types test from Adobe Create is an exploration of the many faces of the creative personality. Based in psychology research, the test assesses your basic habits and tendencies—how you think, how you act, how you see the world—to help you better understand who you are as a creative. 

**These instruments and results are all free and without supplying personal information.  
**These instruments do not provide in-depth description of reliability and validity although all refer to research supporting the creation.

A Summary of My Results

I initially completed the Uzzi assessment in October. Categories range from noncreative to exceptionally creative. I scored in the very creative category. I would not have described myself as “very” creative. I conducted my own “test-retest” process and took the assessment again in November and December. All three times I scored in the very creative category.

My score on the AULIVE was in the “normal” range. Description of AULIVE categories for what is a considered a “normal” range based on metrics are:

Abstraction The ability to abstract concepts from ideas
Connection The ability to make connections between things that don’t initially have an apparent connection
Perspective The ability to shift ones perspective on a situation – in terms of space and time, and other people
Curiosity The desire to change or improve things that everyone else accepts as the norm
Boldness The confidence to push boundaries beyond accepted conventions. Also the ability to eliminate fear of what others think of you
Paradox The ability to simultaneously accept and work with statements that are contradictory
Complexity The ability to carry large quantities of information and be able to manipulate and manage the relationships between such information
Persistence The ability to force oneself to keep trying to derive more and stronger solutions even when good ones have already been generated

I was particularly interested in the Creative Types quiz since it referred to other credible research.  The eight type categories include artist, thinker, adventurer, maker, producer, dreamer, innovator, and visionary.  

My results placed me in the Thinker category.  This assessment provided a more in-depth explanation of the results than the other two.  

The Thinker
Ever the perpetual student, you experience the world as an endless opportunity for learning, discovery, and truth-seeking.

My creative strengths….intellectual curiosity, ability to find and create meaning
My untapped potential…bridging theory and practice, applying ideas to real life
My ideal collaborator…the Adventurer.  The Adventurer has high levels of creative energy, spirit of curiosity and play. The Adventurer is the perfect counterbalance to the Thinker.

My Thoughts on the Results

**The results were similar (no outlier) which adds credibility to the process.
**The results supported the perception I have of myself although Uzzi outcome placed me in a more creative category than I had thought. This outcome (after test-retest process) indicated to me that I have not tapped my potential.
**The results are in alignment with other self-assessments I have completed (Myers Briggs and StrengthFinders).
**There was overlap of my results with the Csikszentmihalyi categories in the table above.

Answering the So What Question

Knowing or at least gaining some insight about my characteristics and strengths will help me explore my creative potential.  I believe my desire to form new connections, associations, and relationships between ideas and people support the purpose of Blooms to Blossoms.  I hope that I can continue to find creative ways to present relevant and interesting ideas to my readers.  The results will guide my future work.  

Creativity = Imagination + Ideas x Connection.

The personal journey to create yourself

It is in…

…singing that you discover song
…writing that you discover story
…painting that you discover art.

It is in the doing that you discover yourself.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily

Intentions Rather Than Resolutions

Would it surprise you to know that the idea of New Year’s Resolutions is over 4000 years old?  Pruitt (2015; republished 2018) as a History Channel Stories feature outlines the history of the practice of making resolutions. Today “most people make resolutions only to themselves and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on).” Prossack (2018) supports Pruitt by stating “that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.” 

The first of a new year is one of the more common temporal landmarks.  Research backs the motivating power of what are called “temporal landmarks” — certain dates that naturally inspire us to turn over a new leaf.  In a blog I published last month I mentioned that “I am not a person to make New Year’s resolutions, but I often take time to think about how I can be a better me.” My year in review blog I lay out a plan for 2020.  Each year rather than setting virtuous goals by creating a list of New Year’s resolutions, I focus on how my actions bring to life my intentions to “be a better me.”

Dr. Bill Scheu, a friend, and my chiropractor shares my viewpoint  of a holistic perspective on health and wellbeing.  He is a 3rd generation chiropractor with a focus on restoring and maintaining client health.  A wellness approach is the foundation to his practice.   He and his staff provide a personalized plan extending to massage, diet/nutrition, exercise, and injury prevention and recovery.  Our thoughts on the expectations of a “new” year align.  With permission from his office, I share a portion of the New Tampa Chiropractic January newsletter with you.  

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”
Anne Frank

January is always an exciting time.  It’s the start of a new year; it’s like each of us has a chance to renew our commitments to what’s working in our life and a chance to let go of what is not. Here is a “different” approach to think about as you build momentum for the new year.  Rather than make a “resolution”–think about setting an “intention”. 

Resolutions focus more on the outcome, not the journey. These tend to be a specific goal that is firm and fixed and this creates thoughts that “we aren’t good enough” the way we are and if the goal is not reached that we have “failed”.  Intentions suggest that we look deep inside, to become a better version of “ourselves”.  When an intention is set it is based on the premise that “we ARE good enough” the way we are.  It is more about an attitude; it is more fluid and is more about the journey than the outcome.  An intention is something to practice; it’s an ever-renewing process.  When we set an intention instead of a resolution, we can stop thinking about wanting something we do not have, and start moving toward what we want to achieve.

An article from Nutritious Life explains How to Set an Intention.

Make a statement that relates to your purpose and HOW you can bring about change. Instead of saying “I want to lose ten pounds,” how about “I will treat my body with respect because I am worth it.”

Once you have your statement, support it with realistic action steps you can commit to such as: 

**I will schedule exercise each week, adding more time to my workouts each month.  
**I will add one healthy food to each meal.  
**I will ask myself if I am truly hungry before I take another bite. 

See the difference?

Also, if your intention is something less “measurable” like more focus, ease, happiness, etc. pay attention to how you can incorporate these things into your day.  Then do something each day to demonstrate your commitment to your intention.

To me, New Year’s resolutions are goals we think we “should” achieve while intentions are goals, we want to achieve.  Intentions set the direction for the upcoming year.  My intentions create my plan and the desired result I wish to achieve is my goal.

Below are a few of my intentions (no particular order) for this year.

**Move often and with purpose
**Take care of myself and others
**Be kind to myself and others
**Make healthy choices
**Do things that make me happy
**Drink more water
**Be good to people
**Laugh often
**Be creative
**Spend time with friends/family
**Read more
**Believe in myself

What are your Intentions???

Spiritual Wellness: Our Beliefs & Our Values

Everyone celebrates the holiday season differently.   We can express our belief in the principles of Christmas in many ways.  No matter how you celebrate you deserve to share happiness of the season.  I wish everyone health and happiness as you wrap up 2019 and move forward to 2020. For my holiday blog, I share some thoughts on spiritual wellness.

We commonly define spiritual wellness as obtaining meaning and purpose in life.  Zippo (2010) provides a framework for a wellness journey by stating: 

Wellness encompasses a balance of the multidimensional journey
that each of us takes at one time or another.

Each of our journeys is unique and different.  
We all strive to succeed as individuals
who create our own paths in life.

Overall wellness, integration of body, mind, and spirit, is an intricate personal journey leading to an enhanced quality of life.  Spiritual wellness depends on our beliefs and values.  How each of us answer questions such as those below will guide this journey.

**Is my life purposeful?
**Is my spiritual growth defined and expanding?
**Do I show trust with others and am I able to forgive?
**Are my values and actions consistently presented?
**Am I grateful and open to others’ beliefs & values?

A willingness to be inquisitive and curious as you explore your spiritual essence contributes to overall wellness, personal growth, and development.  The goal is harmony between self, others, and the world. Finding ways to “practice” or apply your spiritual beliefs and values may contribute to your overall wellness; it may also improve the lives of those around you.  The National Wellness Institute describes the spiritual connection of self and others.  It is better to:

ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant.

live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to do otherwise and feel untrue to ourselves.

Putting your spiritual growth into practice may include:

**making social contributions
**fellowship experiences with others lead to optimism and belonging
**expressing compassion and forgiveness

So what is spirituality?  American Nurse Today 2018 blog answers this question.

It’s about what inspires you, what gives you hope, and what you feel strongly about.

Your spirit is the seat of your deepest values and character. Whether or not you practice a religion, you can recognize that a part of you exists beyond the analytical thinking of your intellect; it’s the part of you that feels, makes value judgments, and ponders your connection to others, to your moral values, and to the world.

For this reason, spirituality frequently is discussed in terms of a search. Spiritual wellness is a continuing journey of seeking out answers and connections and seeing things in new ways. It also means finding your purpose in life and staying aligned with it.

How do you define spiritual wellness?

How can that definition find expression in a meaningful practice?

How can you incorporate that practice into your life?

How can you use that practice to help you with the everyday stresses and anxieties?

Listen with your heart and
live by your principles.