Category Archives: Well being

Moving Overseas? Don’t Make Big Decisions Under pressure!


If you are an expatriate moving abroad this summer, chances are high that you are under great pressure and stress. You have made the decision to relocate few months ago, although it feels like years. Your partner is already working in your future country and you are the “trailing spouse” in charge of executing the relocation strategy. Now unexpected problems are suddenly on your way and you are facing many dilemmas.

Here some common questions expats have to ask themselves that can lead to really bad decisions if we are overwhelmed and under stress:

  • Should I sell or rent my house while living abroad ? ( Read : http://www.expatguy.com/)
  • What shall I do If the house is not sold before leaving ?
  • How should I sell my car? to a car dealer or a stranger on eBay or Craig list ?
  • Shall I plan the packing date before finding my new house abroad?
  • What do I need to  put in local storage and what must be shipped overseas ?
  • Should I rent a temporary apartment in my new destination or make a house hunt a priority before moving
  • What should I do about schools if my children are on waiting lists of several schools and cannot go to local school due to language barrier ?
  • Should I stay one more school year where I live to get more time to plan the move ?

It is not rare that we have to make big decisions when we are under some kind of pressure such as lack of time, social pressure, too many options, not enough information, highly complex situations or emotional stress.

When we are under pressure, rushed and stressed we are not in the best situation to make rational decisions.  Our emotional brain takes the control of our rational brain, and we make emotional decisions to get instant gratification and relief from the pressure. For example some people overeat or overspend when they are in such emotional state that leads to either poor decision-making or impaired impulse control.

Most of the time, pressure can’t be avoided but we can learn to switch our mind to a non-emotional and objective state to make the best decisions we can based on facts while being conscious of the emotional part of the decision process.

To get an objective mindset is really important to avoid making a bad decision we will regret for years to come. We can’t eliminate all the subjectivity of our emotions, bu we can minimize that bias and make the best decision we can  with the information we have.

Here some tips on getting a quiet mind and make rational decisions:

1-Don’t panic: The worst thing that can happen is to rush decisions too early

2-Keep your options open as long as possible : Don’t plan packing before you know the size of your future home. Better to spend money on flight tickets than having to deal with costly shipment and trashing your furniture.

3-Plan for the worst-case scenario : In case things don’t work overseas have a plan to go back where you live (keep your house for example)

4-Recognize your limitations:  You are not Captain America or Wonder Woman, nothing should be perfect. You have to admit that sometimes you can be an insecure person who doesn’t like to show shortage of knowledge.

5-Keep your pride and ego away You told the world you are going to live a great adventure abroad, friends said goodbye and you keep going just because you don’t want to admit you made a mistake. Better have shame than regrets

6-Be incredibly selfish:.Most trailing spouses are women who put other’s needs before their own needs: children, husband, old parents and so on. To be selfish is about taking the time to focus on your needs, listen to your emotions and to take care of yourself no matter how busy you life is. To be selfish is not being needy or egoist, it is a very healthy habit that helps create both emotional and physical well-being. You create more inner peace, joy and a natural balance.

7-Stay connected: As most expats you may have many expat friends on social networks like Facebook. Sharing your doubts, frustration and other emotions to like-minded people is a great coping strategy and helps you gain clarity about your thought process.. Don’t isolate yourself from local friends and neighbors because you are leaving, meet them until the last minute.

 Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is intentional


Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach:

Summer is already here and for expats in transition toward a new destination it is the time to put your resilience at work.

Here a popular post I wrote about one year ago with tips on how to develop your resilience and keep your sanity while moving to a new country or going back “home”

Originally posted on Anne Egros, Intercultural Executive Coach:

Are Expats More Resilient?

By Guest Contributor

June 16, 2011

by Anne Egros

 Anne is in the middle of move #12, back to the USA in New Jersey, after two years in Brussels, Belgium and asks if expats are more resilient ?

 “Resilience” is the positive capacity of people to survive and “bounce back” after failures and adversity. I think it is a pretty complex topic. In addition, what makes you thrive and happy, may be stressful for somebody else. However, no matter what the nature of the stress, resilience can be developed by learning adaptive coping strategies.

I am just now in the middle of move #12, going back to New Jersey, USA, after two years in Brussels, Belgium. The fact that I have been a serial expat for 20 years, between Europe, Japan and USA does not make the packing and the administrative work easier but psychologically…

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Should We Let Our Children Cry ?


Today is last day of school !

My son had pain and tears this morning, he said he will never see his friends again as we are moving  to another country this summer. He showed me the school yearbook and I saw many kind words from friends  like “thank you for being nice to me” and I know it was sincere.

Yesterday when I came back home, the kids in the street had written on the driveway with colored chalk: NICK Your Are Great, We Will  Miss You ! that brings tears to my eyes too.

So what should have said to my crying son  this morning  ?

At first I said he is going to have even more friends next year, but why should he believe me ? He already went to 4 different schools in 3 different countries and even worse he had pain NOW so why should he cares about the future ?

Then, I just hug him very strongly and told him that I understood his pain and that we are going to invite his best friends home today or tomorrow and have fun with water guns.

I am sure more tears will come but I think we should let our kids cry , it is a healthy emotional reaction and that is part of the transition process, especially for expats.

Cosmetic Surgery On The Rise In American Women And Men


In  previous post I was talking about “How To Deal With Your Aging Fears And Move Forward”  and got some questions regarding the number of cosmetic procedures in both men and women.

The  American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) released their 15thannual multi-specialty procedural statistics.

Almost 9.2 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2011.

If the number of cosmetic surgery procedures increased in men, women are still counting for 90% of the total surgeries.

Cosmetic surgical procedures increased almost 1 percent in the past year, with over 1.6 million procedures in 2011. Surgical procedures accounted for 18% of the total numbers of procedure performed representing 63% of total expenditures.  The top five surgical procedures were:

Men had almost 800,000 cosmetic procedures, 9% of the total. The number of cosmetic procedures for men increased over 121% from 1997. The top five surgical procedures for men were: liposuctionrhinoplastyeyelid surgerybreast reduction to treat enlarged male breast, and facelift.

Americans spent nearly $10 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2011. Of that total $6.2 billion was spent on surgical procedures.

These numbers show how much pressure the society is putting on physical appearance, especially among baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). One reason could be the increasing number of baby boomers looking for love online. CNN reports that internet dating sites are the most popular way people are finding companions and those over 50 are the fastest growing segment of eHarmony’s users.

However the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reported that “adults between the ages of 31 and 45 (generation X) accounted for 43% of all cosmetic procedures in 2010. Baby boomers, aged 51 to 64, who do in fact have more expendable income, accounted for just 28% of such procedures.

Percent of Total All Surgical and Non Surgical Procedures by Age: 

1.4% Ages 18 and under
19.5% Ages 19-34
42.9% Ages 35-50 (Gen X)
27.8% Ages 51-64 (baby boomers)
8.3% Ages 65+

Acceptance of those who undergo plastic surgeries is increasing as well, according to ASAPS. A recent survey found that 53 percent of women and 49 percent of men say they approve of plastic surgery. In addition, 67 percent of Americans said they would not be embarrassed if their friends and family knew they had cosmetic surgery.

Read more here :News Releases – Statistics, Surveys.

Reference : 2011 ASAPS Statistics: Complete charts [Including National Totals, Percent of Change, Gender Distribution, Age Distribution, National Average Fees, Economic, Regional and Ethnic Information] - [PDF]

How To Deal With Your Aging Fears And Move Forward


I just added one more year to my official age last week, look strange I did not feel THAT old ! So I look at the mirror and asked:

“Mirror, Mirror, Do I still look young, beautiful and attractive?”

“Humm …not as pretty, thin and fresh than 20 years ago responded the mirror”

Then I look closer at my face saw wrinkles around my eyes, my hair roots showing their true gray color, some parts of my body were definitively showing signs of aging but I did not really worry. For sure I am not as beautiful as Demi Moore for the same age but she seems to have some troubles accepting her age emotionally (read more about Demi’s Life after rehab)

For most women there is an age, could be 35. 45 or 55, when we realize that our body is changing
and we cannot have the same weight and shape that we had before we got our children or like when we were in college. The paradox is, then we probably were not happy with our body image.

No matter how old you are, how you look, how much money you spend in surgery you cannot stop aging but you can choose between two attitudes:

1-Change the way you define beauty and your feelings about your body image

2-Stay in denial and live miserably because you cannot turn the clock back even with Botox or the surgeon’s knife.

So if you want to age gracefully and enjoy your life everyday for the next 40 or 50 years here the four tips you can follow:

1-Acknowledge that your appearance is changing and notice the true fears and feelings you have when you look at yourself in the mirror and see the changes. Are you worrying about your marriage or your career? Are you scared of being unable to practice your favorite sport ? Are you feeling unsecured when you are with younger people? Do you worry about having enough money when you will retire ? it is very important to be as precise as possible to address the real issues you are dealing with beyond just fear of losing your youth.

2-Listen to your thoughts and self-criticisms, maybe you are too harsh and need to re-write your inner dialogue with less negative judgements. Focus on what you like most about your physical appearance and talk to yourself with the same tone you will tell a friend.

3-Imagine yourself being 20 years older and looking at a picture of you as you are right now,. You will probably think you were pretty good-looking at that time and you might regret that you did not enjoy your look when you had the opportunity.

4-Make healthy changes instead of clinging to the past: you can start by eating wisely, enjoy physical activities, invest in an image consultant who can help you choose the best color to wear and styles, helps with make-up and your hair. Once I coached a client who did a re-looking after she made big changes in her life and the transformation was amazing. Her new outside look was aligned with her new feelings and thoughts about herself.

How about you ?

    • Are you worrying or desperate about aging ?
    • When old is too old for you?
    • Are you ready to go to surgery to get flatter belly or less wrinkles ?

Read more here : Angelina Jolie talks about her famous face


Giving is Growing !


‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’ Sir Winston Churchill

Being altruistic benefits the person being helped but has also many benefits for the person who is giving.  According to Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, evidence shows that helping others is beneficial for your own mental health and well-being.

It can:

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

• reduce stress
• improve emotional wellbeing
• benefit physical health
• bring a sense of belonging and reduce isolation
• help us live longer
• get rid of negative feelings

Good deeds don’t need to take a lot of time or even cost money. Small changes can make a big difference. The Foundation organize every year a “Mental Health Awareness Week”. This year it runs from May 21 – May 27, 2012 and its asking its Facebook fans to get involved by carrying out acts of kindness for strangers and posting on their —> Facebook Page 

For more information about how helping others can be beneficial for your mental health, read  Doing Good? report  (free download)

Incidentally, I am currently participating  with Karleen Harp and Patty Farmer as a team in a social event on Facebook called “Marvelous May” and organized by Keri Francek Jaehnig at Idea Girl Media. This is also a “giving event”.

The idea is to provide support to grow individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations by trading knowledge and time for a world of wisdom: Check our Facebook page   “The World Of Help” 

Our mission is to help the community members connecting the dots between specific problems they have and experts who have the answers. Our Facebook page and Twitter keep people updated with ideas and tips.

Our Vision : We empower people by giving them the platform to trade their ideas and time for feedbacks and word of mouth promotion of blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter , Linkedin and all social networks

Happy Giving !

How To Stay Focused When Your Life Is A Chaos


Spring is often a time of intense excitation for many people. For example I like to “de-cluterize”  my closets and my computer or re-evaluate my business strategy. Probably mother nature makes us feel that way, showing us so much exuberance with beautiful flowers and birds singing everywhere.

It is also a very chaotic time for most expatriates who are going to relocate to another country or going back “home”. If you are moving to an unknown place, you have probably spent a lot of time and energy already to search information, connect with people you don’t know who are living or has lived in your new country. Maybe you have also to make plans to sell your current house, cars, appliances(if you don’t have the same voltage), worried about your kids’ well-being and schools, started house hunting etc.

The number of things to think about when you plan a move is a Herculean task  and you better be well prepared and organized.

When you are in transition, no matter if it is for a new job, a new house or a new country, you have to deal with a lot of stress that will prevent you to focus and  get the right things done.

Here are some tips to help you achieve your goals while enjoying your life when you are in transition:

1-Dealing with uncertainty 

When we deal with any change we have many worries and many “what If” type of questions that trigger a lot of anxiety. What if I don’t like the people in my new job ?, What if I cannot sell my house ? What if I don’t like my new country ? it is hard to focus when we are constantly worrying.

What you can do:

    • Accept that the decision you have made is the right one and do not regret it as there is no turn back
    • Let go the obsession to control everything.The only certainty we have, is that life is unpredictable, no matter how prepared we are.
    • Try to notice when you get those worries kicking
    • Identify a coping strategy like taking a break and go walking outside or write down your feelings and thoughts in a journal, talk to your friends or simply do nothing and think about a good moment of your life.

2-Keeping  Your Routine

Everyday,  you have to keep your life as usual plus add on the top all the logistics and deal with unplanned events such as waiting for a visa or finalizing your new job contract. You will experienced periods of high excitation when you are into action followed by periods of uncertainty that are really testing your patience and your morale when things are not going the way you think.

What you can do: 

    • Having rituals or daily habits helps stay focused.
    • You can choose specific days of the week to do certain activities that you need to do anyway like picking the kids at school, grocery shopping, going to the gym etc. Put those activities at a fix time in your weekly calendar as much as you can so you don’t waste your time on planning.
    • Be realistic  and conservative about the time you need, adjust your pace like for a marathon you cannot be always in an emergency mode otherwise you will get burnout.
    • Take 2 daily breaks of 30 minutes minimum for unplugging and relaxing

3-Stay Motivated : Make a “done list”

Getting things done give you a sense of control and helps you manage your stress.

What you can do: 

    • Finish everyday by revising what you have accomplished during the last 24 hours or last week or since you started working on your project. You will realize you have done much more than you think, including things that were not planned!

Your Turn : What do you do to stay focused while in transition ?

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7 Rules To Never Waste Your Time Again


Are you always busy, yet not finishing all you want to do or enjoying the way you spend your time ? Time is the most precious asset we have that once spent is lost forever, unlike other precious things we may lose such as money, a job or even love, as we can always replace them. So why most people don’t think about time as an investment and don’t choose wisely how to spend it  as they do about their own money ?

Most people have to go to work because they need money for their families to buy food, clothes and have a roof over their heads not because they love their jobs. Ironically, for money we trade most of our waking hours, minimum 5 days a week for 40 or 50 years, giving away our youth and often our health, until we are too old to enjoy activities we really love to do!  So if this is true,  it gives you another reason to really make sure the time that you have left is not wasted on futile, non-important things or let other people steal your time.

So if this sounds familiar, let’s learn how to identify your priorities, manage distractions and stay focus to get the right things done.

Rule 1: TRACK YOUR TIME. Discover who and what is stealing your time by starting to log how much time you spend in your activities and with whom.

Rule 2: CATEGORIZE.  Arrange the information and identify activities under the various roles in your life. Your roles can be “the fit and healthy you”, parent, spouse, employee, business owner, community member, the spiritual “you” etc… In a previous post I mentioned “The Wheel Of Life” to identify which areas in your life are important to you and decide your priorities to focus on.

Rule 3: ANALYZE  Look at your current time management patterns and check how those differ from the ways you’d like to spend your time.

Rule 4: STOP AND THINK  We all do certain things without thinking just because we always did. It is time to stop doing everything that is not vital for yourself your family and your job and see what happens. For example do you really need to check your FB page or answer to Tweets first things first in the morning ? How are you going to measure the impact of NOT doing something ?  Let’s suppose you want to lose weight and get more energy but you can only invest 3 hours per week of your time exercising. Well if you are aware of how your metabolism works then you better choose to lift weights and do strength training 2 times a week  and add one hour of high intensity interval exercise such as spinning instead of running on the treadmill for one hour everyday. Why ? because lifting weights and doing squats increase your lean, muscular mass that increases your metabolic rate. Interval training is also recognized as the method of choice to burn more fat than long hours of walking or even jogging. You can apply this concept to your job hunting or social media strategy too: If you have only 5 hours per week, what activities will bring you most leads in less time ? blogging ?, tweeting ? phones calls ?, attending live events etc. You must try what works for you and simply do more of what works and less of what don’t.  Plan your time accordingly.

Rule 5: CLEAR UNRESOLVED MATTERS You need to let go failures or negative past experiences in order to move on. Staying with someone or something in your past waste time and energy. Do you have regrets, remorse, shame, fears, anger , denial ? First thing is to identify what is holding your back, then clearly expressing them and communicating those things. Choose a person you really trust and share three or five things you feel worst about that you want to change, decide what to do about them and take action so they never come back.

Rule 6: SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES Boundaries are imaginary lines we establish around ourselves to protect our hearts and minds from unhealthy and damaging behavior of others. When we set cl;ear boundaries we spend less time dealing with fears, we avoid people who are disrespectful and who steal our time and energy. Require that every single person in your life is always unconditionally constructive. Identify first what others do that violate your boundaries and then clearly communicate them to others.

Rule 7: SET A CLEAR VISION AND MAKE SURE YOU SET GOALS AROUND YOUR VALUESWhen you set your goals and priorities according to your life purpose, vision and values that matter most to you then you can fully express yourself and get fewer distractions and live a fulfilling life. Revisit often your vision if your priorities in life change but your values should be the same no matter what and are guides in your life.

STILL HAVE NO TIME ?

Maybe it ‘s time to go back to the driver seat ! 

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3 Sure Ways To Never Be Happy



“Happiness is when, what you think, what you say, and what you do, are in harmony”

Mahatma Gandhi


Happiness is very subjective and its definition varies from one individual to another.  Happiness can mean :

 

  •  Psychology=Positive emotions= feeling good, joy, having pleasure

     

  •  Philosophy=Living a happy life= having a good job, enjoying family, nice relationships

     

  •  Hedonism= The pursuit of pleasure for its own sake

Three  things will keep you unhappy and unsatisfied in life if you do nothing about them:

1-Not knowing what happiness means to you. It seems obvious but many people cannot describe what makes them truly happy, how they feel exactly when they think about being happy. Thinking that if you get something you don’t have now will make you happy in the future prevents you to live in the present and look at what you already have that makes you happy. So looking for something you don’t know is a sure way to keep you frustrated.

Take some time to reflect on your life and define exactly what makes you truly happy and what you really want in life. Identify and take actions on things you have control on.

2-Pleasing others : If you do things you don’t really like just to keep others happy thinking they will love you more, then you will pay the price: not only others won’t like you more for what you do for them but you can become a victim of abusers who exploit your desperate needs to be loved.

Clean your past and understand you true needs, have them met and make a plan to quit destructive habits or toxic relationships

3-Blaming yourself : negative self-talks like I cannot be happy because I am not lovable, I am useless, I am too old, I am fat, I can’t find a job, I am not a good parent etc.

First allow yourself to feel those negative emotions. It seems a paradox but most people blame themselves for playing the blame game, saying things like:  ” I should not feel bad, other people in worse situations don’t complain”. Truly expressing what you feel is a healthy habit and it helps you identify what can be changed and allow you to be extra care for yourself.

Are You unhappy and feel stuck there ?


Facial Expressions Of Emotion Across Cultures: Are They Innate or Learned ?


Facial Expressions Of Emotion,  Are They Innate Or Learned ?

Mimicking other people’s facial expressions is a very intuitive and innate way to be able to empathize, create bonds and communicate with others. In the article “Emotion expression in social interaction ” it is confirmed that facial mimicry provides feedback that is used to judge the meaning of a smile but supports the notion that mimicry is dependent on social context.

Do you  think you can fake an emotion and give a great  impression by showing a happy face even if you are not ? Well it depends, but if your smile is fake, the muscles around your eyes are not stimulated and it gives a weird feeling that your face is not reflecting what you are saying to people listening to you. French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne was first to demonstrate the differences and since then genuine smiles are often referred to as Duchenne smiles.

In a study done by San Francisco State University Psychology Professor David Matsumoto, the facial expressions of sighted and blind judo athletes at the 2004 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games were captured in more than 4,000 photographs of athletes from 23 countries. The statistical correlation between the facial expressions of sighted and blind individuals was almost perfect,” Matsumoto said. This suggests that facial expressions of emotion are innate rather than a product of cultural learning.

Few studies have been conducted on cross-cultural differences in facial expressions related to emotions. A recent study published in February 2011 by School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, surprisingly demonstrated that male and female participants from four different countries gave an overall rating patterns that support the universality of emotion judgement. However culture influences the intensity of the rating of natural, dynamic emotional stimuli. Another study conducted by the University  of Glasgow demonstrated great cultural differences in facial expression but it was done using pictures.

I think that both innate and learned facial expressions give clues to observers when they mimic instinctively the expression of the other person. Showing empathy and emotional intelligence including intuition and active listening are the most important skills needed to communicate in a multicultural environment.

Botox may reduce your capability to respond to other people’s emotions by paralyzing  facial muscles making you unable to respond spontaneously to other people’s emotions. Many studies demonstrated that Botox users didn’t feel emotions as deeply as non-users. This negative effect on natural expression of emotions should be consistent in all cultures.

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