Stress is best defined as an emotional and physical state where the body is getting ready for the "fight or flight" response.
During the fight or flight response the body releases adrenaline, experiences palpitations and increased sweating that lasts until the perceived threat is over, or until the body falls into exhaustion and can no longer sustain this state. The stress can cause a lack of sleep, inability to focus, and changes in our eating habits.
Stress is a useful warning sign that we may be pushing it too far. It is important to learn to recognize and respond to it.
The imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are unworthy of your accomplishments at work and that you will be exposed as a fake. People who experience imposter syndrome perceive it as harmful to their success.
But the behaviours that the 'imposters' show to compensate for their self-doubt can make them better at their jobs and motivate them to outperform their non-imposter peers in interpersonal skills.
Over 70% of people are affected by imposter thoughts at some point in their careers.
'Imposters' have perfectionistic tendencies. They often feel overwhelmed and disappointed if they are unable to fulfil their perfectionist goals. A cycle starts where imposters can't accept positive feedback on their work. A gap develops in how individuals perceive their own competence compared to how competent they really are.
In a study, workers experiencing imposter thoughts were rated more interpersonally effective and better collaborators. There's no significant difference in competence between those who have imposter thoughts and those who are not.
Self-doubt leads 'imposters' to put extra effort into their interpersonal connections and may lead to outperforming their non-imposter colleagues.
Imposter syndrome is widely assumed as debilitating, but imposter thoughts can be a source of fuel. It can motivate us to work harder to prove ourselves and work smarter to fill the gaps in our knowledge and skills.
The best way to harness this new potential is to move past the negative emotion and lean further into the imposter feelings. Focusing on the perceived competence gap between you and your peers and putting your energy towards closing it might give you the edge.
This is a way of life in Japan, where people work towards what they love doing, and do that with passion. Iki means life, and gai means ‘to be worthwhile’; loosely translated, Ikigai means the work, activity or hobby that gets an individual up in the morning.
It's something you live for: If you have a great time when you are working, it could be ikigai. If you have a family you love and you can do something for, it's also ikigai.
As the ikigai method of living one’s life has gained massive international attention in recent times, the concept itself is struggling to find a connection with reality in its homeland, where the downside of working 14-hour days is showing.
The term was initially mentioned in the 14th Century and was then seen in the novel Kokoro (The Heart Of Things) by Natsume Soseki in 1912. As Japan emerged from an era of isolation and started embracing the international, industrial world, the new way of life started to interest the population.
The devastation of World War II brought the era of growth, known as the ‘economic miracle’, where the people of the country were filled with new energy, and had the focus and drive to achieve the impossible.
… is a Japanese term translated as ‘commitment to one’s group’ and bodes well the Japanese sense of harmony.
The drive of work commitment of all men and women shaped the work-life balance in the last few decades.
Long hours and sacrificed leisure time were (and still are) seen as positive virtues, while the “ganbaru” trait (“trying hard”) is valued above all. These attributes soon became an embodiment of the working ideal.
Perfectionism, perseverance and quality craftsmanship are highly respected in Japan. The nature or size of the work is not of concern, and what matters is that the person put their heart and soul (and time) in the work they do.
The true meaning of ikigai is not just doing your job with complete dedication and losing your work-life balance, but the freedom to choose what you really love and move towards the same.
Ikigai without the freedom to choose would be just another story told to people to deceive and exploit them.
In the last 20 years, there has been a shift in Japan towards more awareness and freedom to seek one’s desired role. Job hopping, once considered Taboo, is gaining acceptance.
The young generation holds the key to untangle and repair the connections between true ikigai and the work they do so that the work-life balance is enhanced.
While collaborating with others is essential in a creative process, exceptional creativity needs solitude. Interacting and brainstorming in a group is not as deep creatively as shutting down the world and being completely alone with your own craft. Creative people generally tend to be introverts.
The best creative minds like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein remain flexible and spend a lot of quality time in solitude, while also valuing the ideas from other sources.
Prolonged solitude results in deeply profound, personal art, as we can lose ourselves in our work, being in flow without any distractions. It has to be voluntary, by choice and does not work in forced confinement.
Even a little bit of solitude, like being in the office an hour early, can result in some quality work before the rest of the colleagues start trickling in.
The enemy of great work is distraction. The more you are disconnected from the smartphone, the more ‘flow’ mode you can experience.
To practice solitude, try to focus on just one thing, without letting the external distractions disturb you, making it a kind of meditation.
Compassion is what we focus on for emotional intelligence.
It's the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions, to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships, and to manage your own and others’ emotions.
Emotions (like rage) are a jolt of energy with a short duration and are also called ‘action potentials’. This is because they provide information that energizes you towards a particular action.
Moods are states of mind shaped by our current problems, stress, thought and rumination. Moods that go on longer than a day or two can cause anxiety or depression.
Our environment provides us with triggers like food, caffeine, job stress, a swear word from a driver, rain or music, that can cause us to form a certain mood, or feel a certain emotion inside us.
These triggers are often subtle and can be routinized by our mind. The worst part is that we don’t consider ourselves as a witness to a mood or emotion, but become the mood or emotion itself. This false sense of self leaves no space between the emotion and our own identity.
Resilience is the ability to walk through bad experiences.
It generally means adapting well in the face of chronic or acute adversity.
There are three elements you can focus on:
People’s moods are commonly at their lowest on Mondays. The main reason is that we cram as much as possible into a weekend.
Many people are eating and drinking too much, and going to sleep later. Catching up with family and friends requires emotional and logistical energy. By Monday, we are more tired than we want to be, which directly correlates with a low mood.
Monday follows after two days of freedom and enjoyment. Even busy weekends have plenty of moments to relax.
People find it psychologically challenging to switch back into obligations and routines that they have little say over. It may feel like a loss of independence and control.
Disliking your job or finding it very stressful can cause you to dread Mondays.
Even if you enjoy your job, additional stressors can make it more challenging, such as employment insecurity or feeling misaligned in your purpose at work. Once you accept that every job will have its struggles, you can move with the stress, not against it.
People often dislike Mondays if they didn't prepare for the start of the week emotionally and logistically.
Many people fail to realize they subconsciously prepared to fail. If we don't plan, Mondays can be very stressful and unbearable.
People who spend almost all of their time working may experience negative feelings on Monday. It is the mind and body telling them to slow down or take a break.
Even if you love what you do, working hard all week without taking breaks can take a toll on your mind and body.
Mondays involve transitions where you have to face the unknown. You may be anticipating the stressors it may bring, such as anxiety about all the work on your plate, or social anxiety.
People with complicated life circumstances can also feel anxious about transitions.
Someone who sees their weekend experience as the only source of happiness will feel like Monday is the end of their life.
Leading a double life - that of paying bills and going to work on the one side, and personal enjoyment on weekends on the other side - will always lead to difficult Mondays, unless the two can be merged.
Conventional wisdom states our motivation leads us to perform an action.
Our feelings and motivation do guide us, but there is a way to change our mental state, our mood. The way is Action itself.
While it is difficult to control our thoughts and feelings, it is entirely possible to control our external behavior and change our mood.
Mood follows action. This could be as simple as forcing yourself to exercise, run errands, or get dinner with a friend when you're feeling particularly low.
A firm daily practice takes some motivation to get going, but over time, the equation is reversed; dedicating yourself to a firm daily practice is what builds motivation.
Our constant practice of action alters our mood, taking a cue from our behavior.
Creating a fictional persona is a strategy that involves taking a step back from our immediate feelings to allow us to think rationally about a situation. It allows us to rein in feelings like anxiety, and increase our perseverance and self-control.
Beyoncé created a persona that she stepped into just before a performance: "the moment right before when you're nervous... then Sasha Fierce appears, and my posture and the way I speak and everything is different."
Research shows that small shifts in perspective can help people in controlling their emotions.
In an experiment, when people viewed themselves as "distanced" from a situation, they were less anxious than the group that viewed themselves as in the middle of the situation.
Self-distancing enables people to focus on the bigger picture rather than concentrating on immediate feelings. It improves the sense of emotional regulation, self-control, and general poise.
In a study, participants were asked to practice self-distancing when faced with various kinds of food - for example, fruit instead of candy. When participants asked, "What does David want?" instead of "What do I want?" they were more likely to choose the healthier option.
Researchers found that when children were told to consider their behaviour as if they were a character, such as Batman, the children seemed to have increased their resolve and were able to concentrate longer.
These laboratory experiments may be useful to avoid feeling dispirited during new challenges.
We could all increase our emotional regulation, self-control, and general poise by choosing to step into another persona.
To try it for yourself, pick a different person for different goals, a wise person for a personal dilemma, or a work mentor for a professional problem. The practice should create some psychological distance from potentially distracting feelings.