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The secret to resilience is self compassion
Episode 9418th July 2022 • The Happy Entrepreneur • The Happy Startup School
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Shamash Alidina is a mindfulness and ACT trainer. And is also the author of mindfulness for dummies.

ACT stands for acceptance and commitment therapy and in this episode of the podcast Shamash shares some of the principles of ACT and how they can help us cultivate more resilience and self-compassion in our lives.

In summary the key principles of ACT are:

  • Be present
  • Open up
  • Do what matters

By following these principles we’re more able to make conscious choices and overcome any challenges we face because of them.

Most of the time there are no wrong or right choices.

There are just choices and repercussions.

If we believe that we’re able to deal with any repercussions then it becomes much easier to make choices.

It’s when we find ourselves unable to make choices that we get stuck.

We also talk to Shamash about how pain and purpose are two sides of the same coin.

And how doing something meaningful usually mean that it’s also going to be challenging.

We talk about how achieving goals and living our values affect our sense of happiness and meaning.

As well as the pressure we put ourselves under to always be happy, particularly in our community.

Being happy all the time isn’t really the point. Particularly if we criticise ourselves for not being so.

If you're an entrepreneur or you're starting a new project or venture and you’re wondering if you’ll be able to overcome all the difficulties and challenges that will inevitably come your way then I recommend you listen to this episode.

Because there are a few nuggets of wisdom that Shamash will share with you that will help you cultivate the resilience and resourcefulness you need.

Mentioned in this episode:

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Transcripts

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Shamash Alidina is a mindfulness and act trainer.

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And also the author of Mindfulness for Dummies.

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Act stands for acceptance and commitment therapy, and in this episode of the

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podcast, Shamash shares some of the principles of Act and how they can

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help us cultivate more resilience and self-compassion in our lives.

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In summary, he puts it that the key principles of act are be

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present, open up, do what matters.

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By following these principles, we'll be more able to make

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conscious choices and overcome any challenges we face because of them.

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Most of the time, there are no wrong or right choices.

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There are just choices and repercussions.

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If we believe that we're able to deal with any repercussions, then it

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becomes much easier to make choices.

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It's when we find ourselves unable to make those choices that we get stuck.

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We also talk to Shamash about how pain and purpose are two sides of

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the same coin and how doing something meaningful usually means this is

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also gonna be a little challenging.

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We talk about how achieving goals and living our values affect our sense

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of happiness and meaning as well as the pressure we put ourselves on

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that to always be happy, particularly in our Happy Startup community.

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Being happy all the time.

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Isn't really the.

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particularly if we criticize ourselves for not being so.

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If you are an entrepreneur or you're starting a new project or venture,

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and you're wondering if you'll ever be able to overcome the difficulties and

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challenges that will inevitably come your way, then I recommend you listen to this

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episode, because there are a few nuggets of wisdom that Shamash will share with

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you that will help you cultivate the resilience and resourcefulness you need.

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Enjoy.

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I'm really much into mindfulness, so I've I first learned mindfulness about.

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Four years ago when a while ago.

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And for the last 10 or 11 years, I've been teaching mindfulness full-time and in

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particular training, mindfulness teachers and training uh, in a thing called act,

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which is simply similar to mindfulness, which I'll talk about acceptance and

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commitment therapy, and I've written some books on it and absolutely love it.

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So I'm so grateful that I can share what I'm really passionate about with others.

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And I love building communities.

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That's why I love hanging out with the Happy Startup community.

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And I've learnt from Laurence and Carlos and others about ways to nurture

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community and what I've been doing a lot during the pandemic is cultivating a

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community for, for people who just want to practice mindfulness every day and

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a newer one for mindfulness teachers.

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And that's been really meaningful to do that.

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So one of the angles, I was looking at this from given we called the Happy

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Startup School, and a lot of people who join our community, who do our programs,

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they are people try to they go through a process of pivoting what they do and

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how they do things, so they're either starting a new business or try to redefine

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their work or reorient their business.

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And that includes, involves a lot of trying to work out what progress

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means and what success means and whether you're doing enough.

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And there's lots to do.

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As maybe starting off with this idea of being a leader and the pressures

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we put ourselves under in order to achieve what we need to achieve.

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That's interesting.

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You talked about, it's called Happy Startup.

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It's about happiness and wellbeing in the new segwayed into the leadership.

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And I think that's a really interesting place to start because we see, if you

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consciously look at things like just every day advertising, you know, a lot of the

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adverts mentioned the word happiness.

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And for many of us, the word happiness means feeling good.

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And what I've realized over the years is that we all put a little pressure

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on ourselves nowadays to be happy, and be happy in the sense of feel happy.

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And interestingly, I learned recently that the definition of happiness as meaning

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feeling good is about a hundred years old.

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And previous to that, it was more about doing good.

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It was more about meaning and values.

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It wasn't really focused on feelings.

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And uh, this thinking that we should be feeling happy more often, or

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we should be feeling happy as in feeling good, more and more in ACT

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is called like the feel-good agenda.

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And rather than it leading us to fi to feeling more happy, in fact,

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sometimes it have the opposite effect because we'll get too fixated on it.

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So going along with your example of, leaders, here, you know, entrepreneurs,

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founders, and stuff, listening to this, and on the one hand, they want to do

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a really meaningful startup or really meaningful business, and at the same

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time when you're doing something that's meaningful, feeling happy or feeling

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that sense of feeling good is not going to come up there very often because

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you're doing something challenging, you doing something difficult.

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And it will feel amazing when it works.

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If you've got this dream about what you want to achieve and you

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get there, yes, in that moment.

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And for a little time, it will feel good, but it's definitely going to

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have difficult and uncomfortable feelings along that pathway.

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So if we think happiness is feeling good and part of the Happy Startup community.

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And so there may be the sense of, yeah, I want to feel happier, I want to feel good

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as I'm creating the startup and then you don't get that, then there could be this

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feeling like I'm doing something wrong.

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Maybe I need to do this workshop this event to try and fix me because

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of there's something wrong with me.

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I'm broken because of, I can see, people seem quite cheerful and happy all the

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time and they're doing these Happy Startup, then it looks really good.

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And I'm not getting there.

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I'm not achieving that.

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So there's something going wrong.

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But what this mindfulness and ACT is saying is actually it's the opposite.

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When we do something meaningful, there's going to be pain along the journey.

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Uh, this beautiful quote we hurt where we care or another one, which is pain and

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purpose are two sides of the same queen.

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Happy Startup, and I think you guys teach this so well, it's about a purpose driven

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startups, about a meaningful startup.

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It's about doing things that are meaningful for you, not even just

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the startup in your home life, in your everyday life, in the way you

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connect with each other, you connect it to values and meaning and purpose.

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And so that is always going to create some pain and emotional pain and

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maybe physical pain, all sorts of different pains and on the journey.

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But that pain, rather than that, being a sign that you're going wrong,

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unbelievably, it's a sign you're going in the right direction because you're

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going towards something that matters.

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For example you may feel uncomfortable right now or nervous or something

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about this talk that I'm doing and making sure it goes right in and

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it goes well for the community.

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That's a really good sign.

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That means you care about this community.

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You care about this gang well.

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I care about it.

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You know, I was feeling a little bit anxious before this and thinking

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about making sure that I say the right things and I managed to include all

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these different elements correctly.

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Because I care about.

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If I really didn't care about it, I'd be like, oh, whatever,

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we'll just have a chat.

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We'll have a laugh and, whatever happens happens, and maybe nobody

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will get anything about it.

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I don't care.

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So this is maybe the first step that we want to share about self-compassion is

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that it's not about trying to feel good at all the time, but there's going to be, you

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know, we're going to feel uncomfortable.

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We're going to feel pain.

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We're going to have these difficult feelings on that journey and seeing

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them as mine, milestones or posts that, hey, this is hurting because

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I care about it or this pain here because there's purpose behind it.

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And that's something that's taken me ages to actually realize.

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But it's really made a big difference in my life and the way I see things

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in my work and in my personal life.

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Yeah, that's what I want to share.

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I think we now need to rename the business Lawrence to the Painful Startup School.

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Well, I'm pretty sure.

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Keess Klomp had some words to that effect didn't a few years ago which, you know,

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Keess's message is very similar to yours, which is there is no purpose without pain.

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And he actually made a distinction between meaning and purpose.

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He thought meaning was much more individual, much more self centered

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rather than purpose, which is much more collective a collective experience.

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I wanted to just back up a bit, this whole idea of, you know, it hurts where

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you care and there's a purpose and pain.

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So there's, there's a potential and I'm going to say sometimes you

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can care too much and maybe care too much about the wrong things.

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And there's this fine tight rope I think of, oh, on one hand.

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Yes.

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If it's going to be meaningful, there's going to be some effort,

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struggle, pain along the way.

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But there's also some people that feel like, unless there

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is pain it's not worth doing.

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And so they gravitate to things that are really hard all the time.

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And they feel like actually, if it's easy, it's not worth doing.

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And while I admit, you know what you're saying?

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And I don't want to derail us too many too much from what you're talking about

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in terms of ACT and this kind of things you want to say, but I was of the belief

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for a long time, unless I struggled, unless it was effortful, unless there

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was it wasn't worth doing, because you know, that's makes it meaningful.

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But at the same time, I think you can take that too far and

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say life has to be struggle.

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It always has to be struggled.

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As opposed to actually sometimes it can be very effortless and impactful.

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Yeah.

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And that's a really nice insight and uh, ACT is underlined by the sentence or the

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concept of psychological flexibility.

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So it's about flexibility.

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It's not about creating rules.

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And what it sounds like maybe it was for you and for others.

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And perhaps even for myself, is we create these rules.

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If it's not hard, it's not worth doing.

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So that's just a bunch of words.

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You've created it into a sentence and it becomes a rule.

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And if we don't have that sense of flexibility about that rule, then you can

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apply it to a situation which could, be life-threatening for you or for someone

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else, but you keep following that rule

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in fact, I worked with one entrepreneur where he to be more mindful, he

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wanted to challenge himself more and more, involving a sport, which would

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became more and more dangerous to the point that he actually almost died.

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He came really close to death.

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And then he thought, what's going on, am I doing something wrong here?

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And then, he'd read my book, Mindfulness for Dummies, and I said, have you

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tried any of the actual meditations?

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And he hadn't, or the mindful exercises.

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And so, you know, he discovered another way of accessing that sense of presence.

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Even the stuff that I'm going to be sharing today like, you know, pain and

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purpose go together or where we hurt, where we care or any of the other concepts

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that you're sharing, if it becomes a rule, then there's inflexibility

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rather than flexibility there.

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And then that's a big problem.

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Because of life is always changing and moving and the challenges are changing and

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what we need to do and what's meaningful for us is also changing, so we need

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to be able to adapt to the situation.

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And I just love the idea of flexibility, mental flexibility, physical flexibility,

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and flexibly moving through life.

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I think it's just, it's a beautiful concept and it's

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something to keep in mind.

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And maybe one of the things, one simple thing to keep in mind with with compassion

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and self-compassion and cultivating resilience is we could ask ourselves, how

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can I be more flexible in this situation?

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I like the fact that you've come up well, you've brought up the idea of

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flexibility, cause one of the things we've realized building any kind

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of it's particularly an innovative business, it doesn't always go to plan.

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Never goes to plan, does it?

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Goes to plan then your, I don't know, some kind of psychopath or just lucky

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Well, since I remember seeing it taught years ago from the founder

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of Do Something Different that they actually focused on behavior change.

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It was an app I think they created and they talked about in that book

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was called Flex, about how, you know, most, most successful entrepreneur

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entrepreneurs tend to be people who have the most behavioral flexibility.

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It's actually, you know, Rather than walking through life with a hammer, for

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every situation, they're able to use a whole Swiss army knife of tools to be

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able to adapt to the situation that's required, which is probably why we will

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get bored quite quickly as well, because we don't like just doing one thing.

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But when you were talking about we hurt where we care thing, makes me

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think of, know, I see a lot of people who give up quite easily early on.

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And I always say to them, do you care enough in terms of not saying

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it's a bad thing if they don't, but it's a good filter, I think.

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When things get hard if they don't pursue it, it's not that they have to pursue it.

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It's more, the fact of is that level of desire there, or care or

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whatever it is that thing pulling them forward is that there.

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And I suppose the people have.

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Push through it.

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For example, Victoria is on our, who's been on one of our programs, she

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won an award yesterday and got some funding for her social enterprise.

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And she's an amazing change maker.

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But she's been through a lot.

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She's been, physically ill as a result of an injury as she had as well as mentally.

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It's been tough for her to push through this last couple of years, but she's shown

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a lot of resilience through that and it's not been easy, but I guess the rewards

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were coming her way as a result of that, it should be a good example of someone

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who's yeah, in spite of it being difficult in spite of there being challenges

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has seen the bigger picture, I guess.

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In the act model and also in psychology as a whole, what gives us drive and

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gives us motivation and a deep sense of resilience and ability to bounce

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back is what's meaningful for us.

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And, a business could be a meaningful one or a project could be, but

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actually they are meaningful, but they are goals along the journey.

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Then they're not really the values behind it.

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And uh, one thing that we often can get confused with is achieving

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goals and living our values.

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And living our values is a direction that we have.

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If being kind is your violin value, then and think of it as a word ending

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in L Y and adverb, it's something that you do so you can do things

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kindly, curiously, creatively fairly, so things that ended in an L Y.

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So let's say if doing things kindly is your thing, and you've

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got some startup or some business or project that spreading that.

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So that project and the success of that project, for it to be meaningful,

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what we want to try and do is activate that value in our actions every day.

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So it's not like, the kindness will come once I've done this six month project,

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but every day, how can I behave kindly?

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How can I interact with my staff kindly?

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And so then it doesn't matter so much whether that project is achieved or not.

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Because of, if you have a project and you're not clear about the values, this

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has happened to me, and I'm sure it's for many people is that this is you got this

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massive feeling of emptiness at the end.

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You achieve and you get this little buzz of, yeah that's great.

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But then all right, now, what, and I still don't feel that confident.

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I don't, I still feel like an imposter having achieved this project

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or this startup or whatever it is.

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But if the practice that you engage in is everyday, how can I do things

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kindly or whatever it is, it may be creativity for you, so how can I do

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my exercise in the morning creatively?

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How can I work on today's meeting and, and engage creatively in what I'm doing?

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Then there'll be this feeling.

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Your heart will open every day of those six months as you go to.

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And then if it's, if you get that amazing success or that huge

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amount of money, that's great.

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And that will just be more fuel for you to continue doing that project.

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But even if it all collapses and something happens, you're not

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left with completely nothing.

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Because you know that every day or that six day, six month journey, you

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uh, as best you can on the days that you remembered, you're activating

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that value and you can continue to.

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So you can think of it like a compass, you're going west.

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It's not like, oh yeah, I've got west.

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Now I've achieved west.

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You can't, You can't get to west, it's this continuous journey that you go on.

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But along the along that journey you'll go, you'll meet different

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things and you'll see different things.

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And part of the practice is to continuously reflect on what your values

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are and it changes and people get a bit worried, like I'm not too sure.

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Like one day I'll work out what my values are one day.

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I'll find out what's meaningful.

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Experiment with it.

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Try being kind every day and see how that goes.

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Try being creative every day.

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Try being more curious every day, try it for a week or two and see

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if it kind of lights something up within you or you lose track of

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time when you're acting in that way.

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The thing that really stood out for me there was turn your values into L Y words.

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Because it feels like you infuse any action with what's important to you.

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And that speaks to me in terms of the alignment, firstly, just

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reading like, okay, this is actually aligned with who I am.

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So if I'm happy being happy and then we said happiness is there's a feeling

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and then there's what it means.

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But doing things maybe.

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Yeah, joy is important to me, then everything I do needs to be done

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joyfully, because if it's done joyfully, then it's aligned with who I am.

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And then the other aspect that sprang out for me is it doesn't matter

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whether it ends, you know, I get the goal or the business is successful.

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The quality of the experience is joyful.

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And so it's going to be great.

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Otherwise it's going to be, it will be happy for me because

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it's infused with that thing.

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But then also think whatever you then do, what the quality of the things that you

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create, the essence of anything you make will then be infused by those values.

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And so we talk about in our programs, live them, don't laminate them.

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The light bulb in my head is like, what does that mean to them, not laminate

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them, well you turn them from nouns to L Y words to what do you call them, adverbs?

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Adverbs, yeah.

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Yeah.

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So there's like, how can you adverb your values so that everything you do,

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Adverb your life.

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I feel like I'm in an English lesson now,

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Adverbs are for life, not just for Christmas.

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So yeah, I love that at least it feels like a way of thinking about this and

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there's, it's interesting as well.

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Do you talk about how our values shift and change.

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I'm wondering before we go into a bit more, cause I would also want to talk

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to you about acts and for people who don't know what act is maybe giving

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us a bit more detail around that, but this, do you believe that at some

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point you settle on some very specific values or is it always shifting?

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No, there may not shift.

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You may have a set of one or two or three values and you just, and it just

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happens that they S they stay solid and the same for years and years.

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And part of what values are about is they don't really change, daily or weekly or

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monthly, they do stay for quite long.

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But you may have some experience or some insight in the new suddenly

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have a bit of a shift of values.

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Like for myself, I was really into mindfulness.

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And then I had an experience where I was really worn out and felt

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really exhausted and really tired.

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And I discovered about the concept of kindfulness and then, actually being

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kind to myself and kind to others became more and more important for me.

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So there was a value shift there.

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So it just varies from passing to person.

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Before we were talking about flexibility and then the opposite to me was rigidity

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and it was like, and when Lawrence was saying, do you really care enough?

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The other word that sprang to mind is are you committed to this?

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Is this something you want to make happen?

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Or because you quit early, do you really want that to happen?

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What were the, what is the level of commitment you have to that?

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And so there's a commitment to a goal, there's a commitment to a way of living

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in terms of your values, and then there's a flexibility around, okay.

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If I can't if this business doesn't work or this idea doesn't work, how

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can I then pivot, change, in order to then get towards something that I

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feel that getting towards something is just living more and more to those

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values that you're committed to.

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Actually for both of you you're working on making websites for people, and then

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maybe there was a shift of value for you or you weren't doing things that

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aligned with your values before, and then you realize, hang on a minute,

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helping people to do meaningful startups and happy startup is more important.

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And so then your business shifted, but maybe your values shifted or did you

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always have those values underneath?

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I'm wondering?

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Actually.

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I think it's more who we were, who we wanted to work with more as well.

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So I don't know if our values changed that much.

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I think I need to change in terms of what we wanted from work and the business.

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But I think of, there was definitely a values mismatch with some projects

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and clients that we maybe felt there was just a different view of

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how we should approach the project.

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And so that was a source of frustration for me, particularly around that time.

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There was just it was like we were talking a different language at times

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and I could feel like we were on a different path and they just had, it

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was like someone, they were going east.

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We were going west, to your analogy.

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And yeah, it's just two different views of how a business should work.

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So I think that was probably more us living our values out loud, really, I

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would say, like you say, daily through our content, through our events and

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things, trying to have a beacon for other people to say, come find us

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because this is what we believe in.

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And just one thing that comes to mind is that, you're fortunate

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enough that you could change.

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You could say that I don't want to work with this company.

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I'm going to work with this one.

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Cause it's more vital, it's aligned, but there could be a situation

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where you weren't able to do that.

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And then all you could do is live your values and they continue to act on their

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values, but you can still think, do things kindly or curiously or creatively, and

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they may shut you down or they may act against that, but you could still act on.

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And that's the beauty of this is that you can still walk creatively

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to your workplace or behave kindly with your loved ones, even though

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you may not be able to stay at work.

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So there's never a situation where you cannot at least live those values.

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And the ultimate example of that's coming to mind.

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I don't know if you read that book, Viktor Frankl Man's Search for Meaning

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when he's in a concentration camp.

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And yet he discovered that sticking to meaning and purpose is what helped give

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him the resilience to get through it, as well as the other people in there.

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So even in the darkest of situations, digging in deep and living our own

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true intrinsic five years gives us tremendous amount of resilience.

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It's interesting that you talk about the intrinsic values cause that's, I was going

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to disagree a little bit with Lawrence in terms of how that went for me anyway.

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Because I think my values have shifted over that time.

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And there were the thing that sprang to mind if I was going to use an L R

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L Y word for a long time, I'd like to do things cleverly, you know, I liked

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to solve problems, you know, a value for me is to be able to solve to know

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answers, to, you know, to have knowledge.

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And it worked well, I thought, within the kind of work that I was doing, which

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was very much technical, it was like finding complex, seeing complex problems

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and finding solutions and finding ways through them and to be clever with them.

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The shift for me is rather than doing something cleverly, particularly

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with the work we're doing is to do something compassionately.

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And and on one hand you say the, there's some intrinsic values.

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I think they are.

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And sometimes they're hidden, they're things that we haven't seen.

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And there are other values that we have, or we use, or we believe they're ours, but

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they don't necessarily they're not really.

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And so that's fine.

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That's what I was thinking in terms of the shifts, like some fall and others

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rise, but for a lot of the time, some just cover the other ones because that's

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whether we believe that's who we are, what we need and how we need to operate.

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And that's one of the really important things about values

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is that they are intrinsic.

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Society puts a lot of pressure on us to have certain values.

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And so they have a subtle effect of making us think, oh, kindness should

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be my values because people always going on about kindness nowadays and I

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keep seeing it or being compassionate.

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You should, I should be.

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So it, wasn't probably the one my value.

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I'll pretend to be authentic.

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Um, so, really thinking about if, if nobody else was watching you, you're

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on a desert island or something, and you can act in how have a way you

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want, and nobody would be looking up upon you and judging you, what, how

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would you still act in that situation?

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What would still make you feel alive and feel connected and feel that no,

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I want to behave in this way, even if nobody else was watching you?

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And thinking in that way can be helpful or thinking imagine I had a magic wand

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and, money was not an issue and all your fears drifted away, what would be the

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things that you would still want to do, which would feel meaningful for you?

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And it's really worth, really reflecting deeply on that and

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finding the intrinsic value.

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Because the vendor then the motivation will be there.

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If you find the value that looks good or feels good, but you're not

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a hundred percent aligned with that, then when you're, when the situation

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comes and you're faced with a challenge and you're not it's not easy.

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There's all these difficulties and difficult emotions coming up and

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you're running out of money and.

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Then that motivation that strong inner motivation will start to dissipate.

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I like you when you came up with this, when you're talking now, it's things

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are starting to get difficult, it feels like you're not moving forward the way

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you want to move forward, or you're not making the progress that you wanted

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to make, and this is my experience where judgment, self judgment starts

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to become a real, real challenge.

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Uh, or one of the things that drags you back.

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There's not knowing the answer.

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And then there's criticizing yourself for not knowing the answer,

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and how that has a compounding effect on finding a way forward.

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Coming back to this idea of self-compassion, and you wanted to talk at

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it from this lens of ACT, maybe sharing a bit about what ACT is for people who don't

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know what it is and what that means, and then we can start thinking about from that

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place, what, how can we work with those ideas to then find solutions that might

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not be, might be hidden from us because they're drowned out by self criticism.

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So the reason why mindfulness has become very popular in the west is

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because of research that started in the 1970s by a guy called John Kabat

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Zinn and Thích Nhất Hạnh before him as well brought mindfulness to the

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west, but also in the early eighties, another very high quality research

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was taking place by a guy called Dr.

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Stephen Hayes in the U S and there was a psychologist.

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He ended up becoming the originator of this thing called ACT.

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And he suffered from huge amounts of panic attacks, actually that started small

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and become, became bigger and bigger.

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And he used all the psychology techniques that were recommended and

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had evidence at the time, and he found through personal experience, they

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just really didn't work to the point that he almost lost his mind in it.

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And he'd luckily had some experience of some mindful retreat or something,

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and and he became the observer of his thoughts and feelings rather than

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trying to change the content of them.

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And when he had this good call it a spiritual experience, he decided

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to do a lot of very high quality research to find out what exactly

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happened and why did it happen?

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He didn't even publish anything for almost 10 years, because if they're really

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wanting to find the underlying elements that lead led to his transformation

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and his clients and everyone.

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And uh, they came up with this of this concept, which is an awesome way of

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describing it, psychological flexibility.

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Now, what really surprises me is how very few people know about this

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because the standard of research is amazing and it's even recommended.

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Now, if you go to the world health organization's website and you

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download the free ebook on stress is all based on ACT, actually.

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And just to give you a sense of how powerful the psychological

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flexibility, he says in, in, in one of his latest books and Dr.

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Stephen Hayes is considered one of the top 100 psychologists of all time and

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he's still alive, so it includes all the psychologists that are alive in

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daddy's published over a hundred books is very well-respected in the field.

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And he says over the last 35 years, my colleagues and I have

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studied a small set of skills.

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These are the six skills I'll share that.

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Say more about how human lives will unfold than any other single set

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of mental and behavioral processes previously known to science.

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Not an exaggeration in over a thousand studies, we've found these skills help

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determine why some people thrive after life challenges and some don't why some

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people experienced many positive emotions and others very few, they predict who

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is going to develop a mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression,

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trauma, substance abuse, how severe it will be, how long lasting it will be.

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These skills predict who will be effective at work, who will have

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healthy relationships, who will succeed in dieting and exercise, who will

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rise to the challenge of physical disease, how people will do an athletic

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competition, how they will perform in many other areas of human endeavor.

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Amazing.

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Amazing.

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The claims they're based claims based on various, hundreds and hundreds of

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researchers over decades and decades.

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And that's why it's used on places like the National Health Service.

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And these sort of skills.

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And very simply you can call it psychological flexibility.

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And it's not something that you'd probably find that surprisingly it's

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obviously these sound like they make sense, but because they've tested each

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of these six skills separately and pulled some out and pulled them in and

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thoroughly tested them, they found out whole bunch of techniques you can use.

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Some of them take 10 or 20 seconds, which will help improve your

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psychological flexibility, which will lead to all this, all these improvement

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in resilience and self-compassion.

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And so what it's all about is about exactly what we've been talking about.

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It's about how we live a meaningful life.

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Not a feeling good life, but meaning a rich and meaningful life,

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which will make space for feeling good more often as well, okay?

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But it teaches you how to be clear about those values and live a meaningful life.

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And at the same time deal with all the difficult thoughts and

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feelings that come along the way.

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Because that's the real challenge, you're doing something and then you

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get these really difficult feelings of anxiety or sadness or shame, or

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you mentioned the self criticism.

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That's the challenge.

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How do we navigate through that and keep our focus on these L my words, how can

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we continue to act lovingly when we've got this opposite voice in our head?

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And so psycho, psychological flexibility is the one concept.

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If you want to make it a little bit more, break it down a little bit more.

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You can break it down into three.

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Before we do the sex, it makes it easier and you can call it, just be present.

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Open up.

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So open up to our thoughts and feelings and do what matters say, if you want

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to just take a simple concept away from what we're sharing today, lend to be

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in the here and now a bit more, which could be as simple as just taking a deep

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breath every now and then, you know, noticing the colors in the sky every

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now and then going for a mindful walk.

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One great way to be present, which is very easy.

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It's just to do any activity at half the normal speed, even if

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it's for 30 seconds or a minute.

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I tried earlier when I was typing and I was just typing at a slower speed.

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Just tried it for a minute.

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You just start to notice your body sensations.

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You start to notice the actual touch of the fingers on the keyboard.

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And you just get, make this still contact in the present moment.

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So be present, open up and do what matters.

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They're the, they're the three.

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And then I can break it down into six as well.

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And I'll very quickly say I've created this acronym ACTION, A C T I O N.

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And I'll talk about the how to deal with self good school thoughts.

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I can go that into that in a bit more detail, the A's

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acceptance or sense of openness.

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And we mentioned about that.

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C stands for cognitive diffusion.

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It's an a complex way of saying unhooking from your thoughts.

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So I'll teach them techniques in a second about how do you unhook

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from these self-critical thoughts?

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Because when you believe them, they can be so overwhelming.

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T transcendent self, which is how do you learn to see things

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from a different perspective?

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And that's powerfully linked to self-compassion.

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I stands for being in the moment and I gave an example of that.

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O is opening your heart to your values.

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I like that way of saying it because that's, that feels

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really intrinsic, doesn't it?

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Like, hey, what's your values?

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What's your meaning?

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Opening your heart.

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It's not something that.

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You do want, you could do one of these online tests and it may give

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you some ideas about it, or you could do some long analytical thing for

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it, but it's actually, does it really feel like it's aligned with your

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heart, like this meaning and purpose?

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And finally N is for navigating with meaningful actions.

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So how do you turn those meaningful actions into habits?

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So that even on the days when you don't really think about it, you've got

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habits in place that will be in lined.

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And I'm just thinking just come to mind a business habit, like you guys do this

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Friday Firesside quite often on Fridays quite regularly, and I'm sure it's linked

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to, you know, you like connecting with people, you like cultivating community.

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So you're doing an action which has become like a habit, like a

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business habit, which is linked to something meaningful for your startup.

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So just going into, I'll just dive into the second one, the

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cognitive diffusion unhooking.

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Now, if we've got a self-critical thought one that I've had for awhile, I'm not good

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enough, for example, and that may come up, you're doing something and it goes

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wrong, it doesn't go like you wanted to.

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And the thought keeps coming.

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I'm not good enough, not good enough.

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Now, the positive thinking crew would say, oh, you just need to keep saying

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that I am good enough and look in the mirror and look really confident, and

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think about all the little certificates that you've picked up in the last 20

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years, starting with your swim, swimming certificate or something going upwards.

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But if you see someone walking down the street constantly saying, I'm good enough.

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I'm good enough.

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You realize, hang on a minute.

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Why do they keep saying that it's coming out of the idea

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that they feel not good enough.

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And it's almost like you're putting something on top.

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And the opposites get connected.

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So if you constantly trying to say to them, I am good enough.

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Cause I've done this.

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I've done that it's coming.

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The roots of it is coming out of the I'm not good enough.

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And so they get linked.

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So when you're saying I'm good enough, there's actually a reminding you of

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the thought that I'm not good enough.

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So that they've found that through the studies, that it doesn't

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really work for most people.

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It may do some times.

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And these affirmations and things may work sometimes, but they've found quite often

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for when people are not feeling great, it actually makes people feel worse.

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So what's the solution?

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Well, there's a whole, there's hundreds of exercises that I could share

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with you, but some, one simple one straight away is that you just say to

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yourself, okay, you got the sentence.

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I'm not good enough.

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You just say to yourself, I notice I'm having the thought, I'm not good enough.

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It's just to say that before I notice I'm having the thought I'm not good enough or

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whatever your self-critical thought is.

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I noticed sometimes the thought I've totally screwed up, whatever it is.

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And first of all you're starting to be courageous.

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You're consciously having that thought, which is in the back of your

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head, that self critical thought.

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And uh, you're creating some space between you and that, that self critical thought.

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A bit more of a weird one, which we could quickly do, which also cultivates

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unhooking or cognitive diffusion.

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And you can try this at home, or hopefully you're not in the car when

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you're doing this, but you just have the thought, I can't move my arms.

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I can't move my arms.

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And you keep thinking that, you know, so your head is saying something negative.

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I can't move my arm.

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It can't move my arm.

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And you actually move your arms around.

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So you say, I can't move my arms.

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I can't move my arms and you move your arms around.

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And what they've done exercises.

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You just do it for 10 or 20 seconds.

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And they found that increased resilience and ability for ability for

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people to tolerate things like pain.

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They did it with ice.

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They get people to hold ice to see how long one group that keeps saying

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I can do it, I can do it, and they can hold the ice for say, 30 seconds.

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The other group, they taught them this technique of I can't move my arms.

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I can't move my arms while they move their arms about.

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And so suddenly they realize, okay, just cause I have a negative thought

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doesn't mean I can't do the action.

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And they found they could hold that they had the resilience

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to hold the ice for longer.

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And those are just a little example of how these unusual techniques can actually help

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us to stop our mind being our dictator.

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And so create some space between you and that self critical thought.

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So that, and that space gives you the freedom to continue

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doing what's meaningful for.

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You can go back to that meaning stuff.

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What sprang to mind with the arm movement thing.

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It's just that you're, this is you're acknowledging that you have a thought,

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but it isn't necessarily real?

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It's teaching yourself that you, your mind does not decide what you do.

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You decide what you get to do rather than your mind.

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Because we cannot control what thoughts are going to pop into our head.

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We can have the most negative thought at any point, you could have a difficult

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thoughts, same with feelings as well.

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We have much less control over them than we think.

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But when you start doing these exercises, I can't move my arms and

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you move your arms around, you teach your mind the hang on a minute.

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I could have one thought I could still do something else.

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It's called disobeying on purpose.

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It's used for like, let's say you're scared of stepping out of your

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house or going up an escalator.

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They use this technique and your mind says, I can't go up that

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escalator, that's too scary.

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And then you still do it.

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When you do that, it feels really empowering.

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It feels, it boosts your confidence and you realize how in a minute, just cause my

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mind says I can't talk to that person or I can't do a startup or I can't do this.

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That's just a thought that doesn't mean that it has to happen.

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So that's what it's teaching is it's creating a diffusion.

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So defeat fusion, as in two pieces of metal fuse together, you and your

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mind diffusion is unhooking from that.

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So it gives you the space.

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Because there's an interesting aspect here, this difference

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between your mind and your thoughts.

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Because I think one hand is like, what is the difference?

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Now?

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I would, if I had asked my kids like.

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What's the difference between your mind and your thoughts.

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They just say they're the same thing, you know, you think, and that's your mind.

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So are you able to diffuse those two ideas in terms of what does

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that mean to have a mind and to have thoughts that are separate?

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Yeah, I would say difference between you and your mind.

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That's the way I would put it.

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So the sense of you and, but yeah, you could put it, put

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your mind in your thoughts.

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But the classic example that we do is don't think of a flying pink

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elephant for the next eight seconds.

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Simple exercise, and we could have silence for 30 seconds and you'll

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find either people think about it or they don't think about it.

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And then they think about it a lot.

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And so there's this thing of, I, we identify.

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We easily identify with our thoughts.

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So like you said, okay, I'm a failure or I'm not good

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enough, or I can't move my arms.

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They turn into behaviors.

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So they have this all comes up.

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If we act, if we're hooked, we immediately act on those thoughts.

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Exactly.

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They sentence us.

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The sentence gives us, let's say for you, I just happen to

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have a thought you're useless.

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And that comes up a lot in you.

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And you tried to stop it, but it keeps coming up, if you think of that as an

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absolute fact, then you will sit in the corner and you will feel useless.

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You're useless.

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But if you think, oh, it's just the thought, thank you mind for sharing.

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I'm useless and I'll carry on being useful in my life.

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So you take the idea is that you take the thoughts with you.

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You don't think of them as a big deal.

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They're just like sounds or pictures in our head and you carry

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on doing whatever you need to do.

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The question I have here next is do your thoughts control you?

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Because I'm wondering with this de-fusion part of that is, is that idea of not

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being controlled by your thoughts?

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Yeah.

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It's about it's about having a greater clarity about what your value is.

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What's meaningful for you, what you want to do.

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And when your thoughts saying, I can't do this anymore, or I can't continue

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anymore, having the awareness like, oh, that's a thought, thank you mind.

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I notice I'm having the thought, I can't do this anymore.

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I'll write it on a piece of paper and I'll put it in my pocket or I'll do some other

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of the many cognitive diffusion exercises.

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And you know what, I'm still gonna act in a loving way in this situation,

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even though my mind is saying I can't.

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And I, And I love what you said in terms of that, that uh, that practice of,

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you're on your own and the thought comes into your head and you acknowledge it

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and then you don't Deslie run with it.

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And given the kind of work that you doing now is cause you're

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you're building a community.

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How much benefit is there of trying to cultivate these practices

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alone versus being in a group?

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Well, I think what I love about communities and, and doing courses

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and learning together is that there is so enriching, isn't it?

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I might share something or an idea and you start to have a conversation

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and it just sinks a little bit deeper.

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And then just today, some, someone in our community, she shared she

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happens to be on a beach somewhere.

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She's been very nervous about sharing meditation and she shared it in a

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group and 10 people came, turned up and, people gave donations and

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had the most amazing experience.

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And then people read that story and then they start getting inspired oh

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yeah, I want to teach mindfulness too.

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And if he can do it and she's overcome her fears, maybe I can too.

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So the community element can help us.

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And ACT doesn't work on an individual level.

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It can also work on a community level.

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So you can have a psychologically flexible community or a company or an organization.

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Or a country or the world.

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So it's, it doesn't just work on the individual level.

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It can, it's a flexible, and it can be integrated with all sorts of other

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coaching approaches and positive psychology and other things you can bring

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it in however you want a flexible way.

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You didn't ask, can someone else control your thoughts,

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But I like what Shannon said about your mind being your

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dictator and and disobeying it.

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So it's a great way of thinking about.

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Well, I think most people who start, they want to work for themselves, want

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to be the boss, and they want to be, they want to have freedom or autonomy and,

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and then they start their own business and then they find out actually the

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it's a great lesson in self knowledge.

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Isn't that?

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Because you're trapped with your own thoughts and you have loads of

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freedom and loads of autonomy, and actually that's often really scary.

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Because then you're faced with your worst fears of okay, now I get to

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decide, like you said, how I show up each day, who I work with, how I work, what

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days I work, what projects I work on.

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So I think there's a lot of time for self-reflection so I, yeah, that whole

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idea of entrepreneurship as a spiritual journey, I think it's true because I think

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it's great to have the certainty of a job in salary and a boss telling you what

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to do, but when you've led the freedom, I think that comes with challenges too.

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Just like any relationship, like a relationship with the business, it brings

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up the challenges as well as an nanny.

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So it gives you, I love that.

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How you say it's like a spiritual journey, it's a learning opportunity, learning

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about yourself and your thoughts and your feelings and how you can navigate.

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That's a really, I never thought I'd be like that.

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That's brilliant.

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Yeah.

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There's I quite like the way Laurence set that up in terms of, you want to be your

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own boss, so you may, so say for instance, you leave your job or you change shift

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and you shift the way you work so that you can be more control of your destiny, which

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then means all responsibilities on you.

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And then actually, who is in control when you're talking about the thoughts

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and who's choosing, you know, a lot of us will have a thought like, oh,

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I'm not good enough, and so we won't do the thing that we need to do.

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So Ashley, you said you wanted to do that thing, but now our

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thoughts come in, they're stopping you from doing that thing.

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And there's no one else to blame, but what's in here.

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So there's a really fascinating kind of thing.

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All right.

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I want to be my own boss, but who is the boss?

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And this journey of deciding or understanding how you, you work with that

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There's a, there's the critical voices.

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Isn't that what it is?

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That's what I was going to go on, sir.

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Exactly.

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Then there's the judgment about what is the right decision?

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You know, when you are given the privilege to decide you know, what to do next, then?

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How do you re work out?

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What is the right one-on-one is the wrong one?

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And actually is that question, the problem and that, and

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what is creating the pressure

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that's that's bringing to mind?

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A post I read about the differences between decisions and choices.

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I can't remember which one, which one is which, but one of them is about, you know,

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for simple decisions, which involve logic, you can make a list of pros and cons

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and that can help you to decide stuff.

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But for the bigger decisions let's say, if you're shifting from one job

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to another, we're a one relationship.

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Whether you want to pursue a relationship or whatever it may

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be for these really more important decisions, don't bother going through

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all the pros and cons, and that would be more of a heart-based decision.

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Go with your intuition.

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And that makes a much better choice because of there's

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so many things involved.

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And ultimately, is it aligned with your heart, with what's

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really meaningful for you?

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And you also often hear about entrepreneurs that successful going quite

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often with their gut feeling, but maybe the bigger decisions and maybe for the

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smaller, more logic ones, then they need to do that kind of pros and cons approach.

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And one funny technique that I sometimes use is that if I just

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can't decide just toss a coin, heads I go left and tells her go right.

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and then you see what you get.

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And then if it, if it let's say heads and it says, heads go right.

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And oh no, I have to go right, that means actually you want to go left.

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So there's, And then just remembering that ultimately there's no right or

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wrong decision, you know, you, you're not too sure in that particular

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situation, you go with your intuition or you go with what you think is right.

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And then you deal with that.

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And, you make that choice and then you use all your skills or mindful

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skills or whatever skills you have and each whatever the next thing

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that happens will be a learning opportunity and another opportunity

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to make another choice of decision and maybe whatever decision you made was

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the one that was meant to be anyway.

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So not getting too caught up in the must make that perfect choice

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because there is no perfect choice.

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Whatever you make is the right choice.

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To round up, is there anything that last thing that you'd like to say

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to people, whether they're running businesses or they're doing the business

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family, personal life thing, trying to work how to do all of that well?

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Yeah, just a couple of little habits come to mind because ultimately we end

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up going back to what our habits are.

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And one nice one to remember a nice moment is when you get out of bed

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in the morning and your feet touch the floor, that's a nice anchor and

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that's a nice moment to do a habit.

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And it's just, we've been talking about meaning and purpose.

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You could say to yourself, you know, today I'm going to live my day

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meaningfully or kindly or joyfully.

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And saying that intention right at the beginning of the day is actually

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a lot more powerful than you realize.

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And maybe just having a little stretch or something like that, a

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moment, and just taking your time to really think that thought so.

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And you can actually just practice two or three times on the side of your bed, and

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that will help to remind you to do that.

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Just touch your feet on the floor two or three times, and just say that

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sentence and it'll start to embed it.

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Maybe say it with a smile in the morning because that releases

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some positive chemicals in your system, and it's more likely that

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you will get wired in your brain.

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It's like a mini celebration.

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And also as your head touches the pillow at night time you can just think of one

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thing that you're grateful for because lots of things may be going wrong and

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you're frustrated, but there'll be a few things there that's gone right as well.

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So that's a nice, another, it's another nice anchor as your head

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touches the pillow, thinking of one or the count, your blessings.

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And that moment is a beautiful practice of self-compassion.

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I think., as well.

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Well, It feels like a lovely opening and closing ritual for the date.

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Isn't it?

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Cause I think there's those things feel easy to remember for me.

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So I really like that rather than trying to find more time in the day to

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practice self-compassion, which at the moment is going to be harder than that.

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If anyone listening to this, we'd like to find out more about this

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specific part of your work, is there anywhere that we could point them to?

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Yeah.

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For the ACT stuff is my name dot com, shamashalidina.com/act.

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And I've got YouTube videos on answers, free YouTube videos

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you could watch as well.

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And there's a newsletter there where I share something

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about ACT every week as well.

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Uh, I liked how you introduced this very simple, tiny habit, particularly

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given there's all these other things that we need to do or feel that we

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need to do to be able to have something that's small and easy that can grow.

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I think that's really helpful and something that I'd like

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to try and practice myself.

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So really appreciate the, yeah.

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Also the, the action um.

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Normally, normally, normally called action.

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Thank you for listening to our happy Entrepreneur podcast.

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