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23 Mar

Eating at your desk will affect the quality of your work and health

Do you find yourself regularly eating at your desk? If you are part of the 67% of office workers that do so, then you need to be aware of the consequences of this unhealthy habit.

Some people see food, as just a functional aspect of their lives. Mindless eating extends beyond the office desk, I see it all the time….people in the morning gulping down a piece of dry toast or pastry and a cup of coffee on the way to work, or eating a quick bite on the way to a meeting. It appears that for quite a few us, eating just gets “on the way” of seemingly more important things.

Although eating is necessary for the correct functioning of our body, food plays a significant role in our physical and professional wellbeing and how we perform throughout the day, way beyond the concept of weight.

Eating at your desk will affect the quality of your work and health - César GamioEating at your desk will most likely lead you to overeating since your brain is unable to properly process the amount of food you are consuming.  Also, according to some studies, most people make poor food choices when eating at their desk since they are more prone to consume fattening foods throughout the day. The heavier you are, the duller you will feel, and this dullness will be reflected in your interactions with people and the work that you do.

Furthermore, research conducted at Stanford University indicates that when you eat at your desk, you miss the opportunity of giving your brain the chance to briefly disconnect from work.  Detaching yourself from whatever you are trying to create, resolve or get done is an intrinsic part of the creative process. Taking a walk to get some lunch or dinner will trigger your creative juices, so leaving your desk will actuality contribute to the quality of your work.

No evidence has contradicted a simple guideline: If you want to feel sharp, alert, vibrant, light and energised at work, when the time comes to have a meal, leave your desk and walk to a place where you can eat fresh, whole foods, that tend strongly toward a vegetarian diet, whilst eliminating excessive intake of, fat, red meat, salt, and sugar.

The food we eat, and how we eat it, has a profound effect on our health, on our daily experiences, our productivity, creativity and how long we will live. Eating healthy foods away from your desk can help you be more productive, creative, will make you feel better throughout the day and will do wonders for your physical and mental wellbeing as well as your performance at work.

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06 Mar

The Formula to Enjoy your Job : S = T + S + K

There is a fairly simple explanation as to why over 80% of workers around the world feel disengaged in their jobs. Most of them are not using their strengths at work. 

The Formula to Enjoy your Job - César Gamio

If your current role doesn’t play to your strengths, it is very likely that at some point you will become disengaged. Disengagement not only leads to boredom, but also could have harmful effects on your health and life expectancy. Disengagement quite often manifests its presence in our mind-body system as depression, stress, anxiety, migraines, blurred vision, digestive problems, physical pain and dozens of other conditions, so disengagement is something that you have to take seriously.

The key to success, and to really enjoy your work, is to make sure that you get to use your strengths and talents in whatever you decide to do. But what is the difference between strengths, talents and skills in the first place? Let’s shed some light on this:

A strength is the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity. A strength can be learned.

Knowledge is the factual and experiential knowledge that you need to acquire for that specific activity. Knowledge can be acquired.

A skill is the ability to do something that comes from training or practice and brings structure to the experiential knowledge. A skill can be learned and developed.

Talent is a special natural ability that manifests as naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behaviour that can be productively applied. Talents are innate and unique to the individual — they can’t be learned or acquired, only refined.

The key then to building a strength is to identify your dominant talents, then complement them by acquiring knowledge and skills pertinent to the activity. So the strength formula looks something like this: S = T + K + S

Strength = Talent + Knowledge + Skill

Therefore talents, knowledge, and skills — along with the time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base — combine to create your strengths. To better illustrate this, let’s review an example. For someone that claims that teaching is a strength, then she must have:

The knowledge of the course she is teaching (whether it is geography, maths or physics)

The skill of how to run a class (i.e. how to manage a group of students, how to structure a lesson, strategies on how to deal with fast and slow learners in the same group, etc.)

The talent to be able to emotionally connect with students at level that they dearly care about the subject being taught and that ignites their passion for learning.  This special ability (talent) was not learnt — she was born with it and it is imprinted in every cell of her body — she just channels it naturally.

Although talents, skills, and knowledge are each important for building a strength, talent is always the most important. The reason is that your talents are innate and cannot be acquired, unlike skills and knowledge.

If you haven’t got a specific type of talent, then I’m afraid you can’t create it, but if you do have a specific talent, you can refine it.  All of us have talents, and if you think you don’t have a specific talent, you simply haven’t come to identify what those talents are.

According to the latests studies if you use your strengths, you could work up to 60 hours a week without even noticing it. Also, you are 3 times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and you are 6 times as likely to be motivated and engaged at work. Most people who do not use their strengths at work feel exhausted and burned out after only 20 hours of work.

It is therefore important that you know yourself.  The wisdom traditions of the East have been saying it all along. Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher and poet of ancient China said it 2,500 years ago: “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.”

Whenever you use your strengths in your main occupation or activity, your will keep learning a great deal, your contributions will be very evident and you will feel that everything seems to flow seamlessly. How do you know if you are using your strengths at work; time comes to a standstill when you are engaged in your main activity.

This is practically medical advise: look after yourself by finding a project, role, job or main activity that plays to your strengths.  Do it for your health’s sake.

César Gamio, Master Educator, Chopra Center University

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20 Feb

How Your Boss Affects your Health and Relationships

According to the latest “Time-Use studies,” which provide information about how people spend their time, who they spend it with and how they feel at various points throughout the day, one major finding from this research is that, for most people, the person they least enjoy being around is their boss! According to the study, most people actually prefer doing menial chores and cleaning the house than to spend time with their boss.

How Your Boss Affects your Health and Relationships - César GamioMost people overlook the massive influence that the boss-subordinate relationship has on our engagement at work, our physical, mental and emotional health and overall wellbeing.

The most common traits shown by bad leaders include stubbornness, self-oriented, overly demanding, impulsiveness, interrupting and tantrum-throwing. Having this type of leadership in an organisation unsurprisingly leads to increased employee turnover, absenteeism and decreased productivity, commitment and performance — that’s pretty obvious.

However, there is increasing evidence that there is a clear link between bad leaders and employee health problems. To put it simply, bad bosses can make you sick.

A study found that the more workers feel that their bosses are incompetent, the more the workers’ risk for heart attacks, heart disease, angina (which is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle) and other serious heart related issues. This risk increases the longer one works in the same stressful environment. For instance for those who had worked for that manager for more than four years, the risk increases from 24% to 39%.

Not surprisingly, some studies have shown that bad bosses can affect how your whole family relates to one another. A study found that the stress and tension caused by an incompetent  and negative boss at work also filters through to an employee’s personal relationships and ultimately the whole family. When people reported having an incompetent and negative boss, their significant other was more likely to report increased relationship tension and family conflict at home.

So if you are looking for a new role, a new project or a new job, make sure you really understand whom you will be reporting to. This is as important, or even more so, than your job title, the benefits and perks and even the company’s reputation. Don’t ever forget that your boss affects your health.

For your health’s sake, try to have a professional and pleasant relationship with your boss. Your boss is too much of an integral part of your daily live at work for an uncomfortable relationship. Remember that you don’t need to be friends with your boss but you need to have a relationship.

If you feel you have tried your best to make the relationship work and/or your boss keeps displaying the traits of a bad leader I mentioned earlier, then don’t wait for him or her to be weeded out of the organisation. Make your move before your health and personal relationships become compromised.

César Gamio
Master Educator, Chopra Center University

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05 Feb

The 6 Tastes of Success

Who doesn’t want to be at his or her best. Whether you are trying to persuade a prospect, convince your manager, or trying to get your point across to colleagues or business partners, if you lack the required energy for these interactions, most likely you will come across as dull, monotonous and uninspiring.  The way people perceive you has a lot to do with your energy levels. No doubt about that. 

The 6 Tastes of Success - César Gamio

In order to have the energy required to be at your best, it is important that you eat nutritious food and a balanced diet — this is something that I’m sure you are quite aware of by now. But in addition to getting the right amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins, there is also a very important element that we need to be aware of, that plays a massive role in our energy levels and overall physical wellbeing.

And this is your sense of taste.

Although taste is a big part of the EXPERIENCE of eating, you should start paying attention also to the PRACTICAL and FUNCTIONAL aspects of your sense of taste. Let me explain.

When you are hungry, your brain sends you a signal to indicate that it is time for you to satisfy the energy and information demands of your body. One way that we inform our brain that we have provided our body with all the major food groups and nutrients that we need, is through our sense of taste.

Because the nutritional content of the food we eat is coded in the taste of the food itself, our taste buds, send messages to the brain, informing it of the type of food that we are ingesting, even before the biochemical elements of the food are released into our bloodstream.

There are six tastes, that inform our nervous system of a meal’s nutritional content, and these are the following:

Sweet.- Brings about satisfaction, builds body mass and it also has soothing effect on the body

Sour.- Stimulates the appetite and aids digestion

Salty.- Enhances the appetite and makes other tastes more delicious

Pungent.- Promotes sweating and clears the sinus passages

Bitter.- Helps to detoxify our body

Astringent.- Has a Balancing effect

If by the end of a meal, our nervous system doesn’t register all six tastes, the brain is not satisfied and continues to send signals to eat more. This may result, in us taking in, too many of the incorrect calories. If you overeat, you will drain your energy levels and you can kiss good-bye the sharpness and brightness that will make you stand out.

So to be at your best, make sure that the 6 tastes are present at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here is a quick reference guide to help you along the way:

Sweet Category: Grains, pasta, rice, bread, fish, starchy vegetables, dairy, meat, sugar, honey molasses.

Sour Category: Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, alcohol, salad dressing, pickle foods.

Salty Category: Table salt, soy sauce, fish, salted meat, seafood.

Pungent Category: Peppers, chillies, onions, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, cloves, ginger, mustard, salsa.

Bitter Category: Green leafy vegetables, kale, green and yellow vegetables, celery, beets, broccoli, sprouts.

Astringent Category: Lentils, dried beans, green apples, grape skins, tea, cauliflower, pomegranate.

Try including the 6 tastes in your next few meals and pay attention to how you feel. You’ll be surprised…

Please share this article and help someone benefit from this information.

César Gamio

Master Educator, Chopra Center University

Senior Advisor to the Global Center for Conscious Leadership

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30 Jan

You can Reshape Your Brain for Career Success

In a previous post (“The Relevance of Career Success in Personal Fulfilment”), I shared with you the happiness formula which derived from years of research by top scientists. As a reminder, here it is again: H = S + C + V

H – stands for happiness.

S – stands for the set point in the brain, which accounts for 50% of our happiness experience.

C – stands for conditions of living, which accounts for 12% of our happiness experience.

V – stands for voluntary choices, which accounts for 38% of our happiness experience.

Given that 50% of our happiness experience on a daily basis is based on how our brain’s neural network is configured, the obvious question is:  Are people that are biologically predisposed to be pessimistic, doomed from the start?

The old theory was that infants mapped their neural networks as a natural part of their development, after which the process stopped and the brain became hardwired. Recent scientific findings assure us that this no longer holds true.  Thanks to a concept known as neuroplasticity, the brain can remodel and remap its connections. You have total influence over the form and structure of your brain.

Career Success

Because your brain is fully adaptable, malleable and flexible, as you are reading this article, your brain is remodelling itself right now. You can promote neuroplasticity simply by exposing yourself to new experiences. In fact, the most powerful experience at your disposal to alter your brain, specially for career success and overall happiness, is through the daily practice of silent meditation.

In a recent study by researchers at the University of California (UCLA), the scientists found that regular meditators have enhanced capacities when it comes to decision making, emotional awareness, attention and focus. The study showed how people who meditate twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes, can easily move from habitual negative feeling states including depression, stress and anxiety to an expanded experience of emotional wellbeing and happiness.

The bottom line is that  your brain is incredibly dynamic—you are not “hardwired.”  Our brains are incredibly resilient and flexible; the marvellous process of neuroplasticity gives you the capability, in your thoughts, feelings, and actions, to develop in any direction you choose,  and that includes the direction of happiness and career success.

I would like to know your thoughts on this topic – please write your comments below.

César Gamio, Master Educator, Chopra Center University

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22 Jan

The Myth Behind Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance implies two things that in this day and age, no longer hold true: Compartmentalisation and distribution. The first meaning that your professional life is separate from your personal life and the latter referring to some form of time allocation that needs to take place to evenly distribute those activities in order to remain sane.

The viewpoint of treating your work and personal life as two separate activities is intrinsically flawed. If you have an argument with a colleague at work or if you simply had a bad day at the office, you will bring that emotional state into your family and social interactions. Conversely, if a loved one is sick or if you are experiencing financial troubles, this frame of mind will carry over to your job or main occupation. Work and personal life are two aspects of ONE life; they are both completely intertwined and interlinked with one another. Separating the two is simply not possible.

As far as the distribution aspect that the word “balance” implies, put it this way: if you dislike your job and your personal life is a shambles, then work-life balance suggests that you should evenly distribute your misery. Simply absurd.

What people are looking for deep down is personal and professional fulfilment — not balance. When it comes to professional fulfilment, people are looking for opportunities to use their strengths and talents, to feel respected, valued and to know that they are making a lasting contribution. As far as personal fulfilment, most people desire healthy, fun and loving relationships as well as opportunities for self-development that will make them enhanced versions of themselves.

When I look at my life, it is very clear that there is a total lack of “work-life balance” in the traditional sense. I give seminars, workshops, personal coaching and participate in speaking engagements in many countries around the world. Sometimes I find myself preparing for a speech on a Saturday evening and playing with my children on a Tuesday morning during regular business hours. Every week is completely different; there is not an even distribution of hardly any aspect of my life, apart from the time I set aside for exercise and silent meditation. Luckily, I find fulfilment in most of what I do and the irregular time distribution amongst these activities is the least of my concerns.

There is quote from a Zen Buddhist master that has been nestled in my mind for years, a quote that I consider a personal favourite, which hopefully will strike a chord with you:

“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 education 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 is always doing both.”

If you achieve personal and professional fulfilment in your life, what is there to balance? What do you think? Let me know your thoughts…

César Gamio, Chopra Center Master Educator

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14 Jan

The Relevance of Career Success in Personal Fulfilment

Given his passion for science and his devotion to bringing peace and happiness to the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with the best and brightest scientists, created the Mind and Life Institute to foster collaboration with western science.

A few years ago, the Dalai Lama commissioned a scientific study to a very large group of the most prominent social scientists and physicists, to study the concept of happiness. The questions that drove the project were: What makes us feel happy and fulfilled? How can we attain personal fulfilment? Two years later, the scientists returned with their findings and a happiness formula : H = S + C + V

H – stands for happiness

S – stands for the set point in the brain

C – stands for conditions of living

V – stands for voluntary choices

The variable “S” (set point in the brain) refers to our mechanisms of perception. We all have a semi-fixed place on the happiness spectrum based on our outlook on life. Happier people see the opportunities, where unhappy people see problems depending on how their brain is wired, in other words, how their neural network is configured. The set point determines 50% of our happiness experience on a daily basis.

Career Success

The variable “C” (conditions of living) refers mainly to career and material success as well as personal wealth. This value in the happiness formula determines about 12% of your daily happiness experience.

The variable “V” refers to the choices that we make on a daily basis. Choices for personal pleasure bring transient happiness, while selfless choices bring inner fulfilment through purpose and meaning. For example, by making other people happy, meaningful relationships bring more permanent happiness. Voluntary choices account for 38% of our happiness.

One of the conclusions of the study on how we can attain personal fulfilment, was that it is fine to have career success and material comforts around you, but that will only account for 12% of your happiness. To really be happy, you need to expand your awareness and overcome your egotistical mind and then choose selfless actions, or ways to be of service to others. This leads to true and lasting happiness and wisdom.

And what about our brain’s set point, which accounts for 50% of the happiness formula – are people that are biologically predisposed to be pessimistic, doomed from the start?

Find the answer in my next article.

César Gamio

Chopra Center Master Educator

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14 Jan

How Your Family’s Health Issues Will Impact Your Health

Is there a history of heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, cancer, Alzheimers, migraines or any other mental or physical illness in your family?  If so, it’s very likely that contained in every cell of your body, are the genes responsible for triggering those chronic conditions.  Whether you like to hear it or not, you may be carrying a vast array of ticking health bombs in the form of “bad” genes that could potentially impact your health.

Fortunately, there is a way for you to defuse those bombs. Approximately 5% of disease-related genes are fully penetrant, meaning that the disease will develop regardless of any type of intervention. Through healthy lifestyle choices, we can keep the remaining 95% of disease-related genes dormant. A booming field called epigenetics reveals how lifestyle and environmental factors can regulate gene expression.

Healthy lifestyle choices allow you to up-regulate your good genes, which means that you can turn on the genes that prevent chronic illnesses. Inversely, through these same healthy choices, you can down-regulate the genes that create these chronic conditions in the first place (including the 500 genes that have been identified as crucial in developing heart disease, many types of cancer, and inflammation).

Regular exercise, restful sleep, a balanced diet, minimising stress (particularly work-related stress), healthy emotional relationships and the practice of Yoga and silent meditation, have proven to positively influence gene expression. Recent studies have shown that even if you have led an unhealthy lifestyle up until recently, incorporating these healthy practices now will positively impact your health by silencing disease-related genes within 90 days.

Your thoughts, feelings, behaviour, mood, social interactions and personal relationships will influence the activity of your genes as well, and therefore hold the key to your physical and mental wellbeing. Be mindful of this fact when choosing a job, a role or a project when it comes to work.

So remember that you genes are not your destiny. Your health fate is not sealed; it’s in your hands.

César Gamio

Chopra Center Master Educator

Senior Advisor to the Global Center for Conscious Leadership

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