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February 2011
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the upside of conflict: 5 surprising benefits


If you're anything like me, you'll typically do what you can to avoid conflict. I dislike fights, despise "talks," and detest angry confrontations. But, despite my distaste for these things, I've found that there are actually some serious benefits to having a bit of conflict in our lives. We can learn a lot about ourselves and the world when we're faced with conflict. And, much as some of us might dislike conflict, it's pretty much an inevitable part of life. So I say, why not look for the good in it rather than dwell on the negative aspects of conflict? Here are five reasons conflict can actually be a good thing... 


5 Benefits of Conflict


1. You create new ideas. When you fact conflict, you'll find new ways of seeing things. It's not alway easy to recognize the new ideas, but if you pay close attention, you may start to see someone else's point of view -- or you may come up with an entirely new way to view things based on what arguments and points have been raised in the conflict. Paying attention and really listening to others is key to benefitting from conflict. 


2. You learn about others. Conflict is a great way to learn more about others. Whether it's an argument with a significant other or a boardroom full of colleagues, facing conflict is a great way to learn more about others. If you pay attention, you will learn not only about their particular points of view, but also about the way they choose to argue. If you pay close attention, you can pick up a lot of information about others when you actively engage in conflict. 


3. You understand yourself. Another surprising benefit of conflict is that you can learn a great deal about yourself when you are participating in conflict. You learn not only what you believe about that particular topic, but you also learn more about how you choose to raise points, what pushes your buttons, and what makes you more open to others. If you listen to what you're saying and pay close attention to your body language, you can learn a great deal about yourself and your conflict style. 


4. You see different perspectives. Whether or not you agree with those you are in conflict with, engaging in conflict will allow you the opportunity to see different perspectives -- if you remain open to listening to others. Though you don't have to agree with everything others say, if you want to benefit from conflict you must keep an open mind and be willing to hear with others have to say. You might not agree with another's perspective, but at least you can see it!


5. You practice communication. Communication is a critical aspect of living a positive life, and dealing with conflict is one way to practice the way you communicate with others. The less you engage in conflict, the less practice you have communicating about difficult topics -- but the more you engage in it, the more practice you'll have. This is not to say you should engage in conflict unnecessarily -- just don't be afraid of participating when it comes your way because you may benefit from it more than you would think. 


It may be tempting to avoid conflict when it comes your way, but realize that there is much that can be gained from facing a confrontation head-on. Waiting to deal with things can be good in some cases -- such as when you're particularly angry and need to cool down -- but often it's best to deal with a situation before it gets out of hand. Conflict can be a hard thing to face, but I do believe there is value in addressing it. Oddly enough, a lot of positive things can come from conflict! 


How do you deal with conflict? Is it something you avoid? 
Are there any other benefits to engaging in conflict?  

stop looking for clovers: how to create your own luck


Lucky -- that's something we all would like to be. Some of us believe we are; others struggle to believe in luck at all. Me? Well, I believe we create our own luck. And I'm not alone in this belief. Many psychology experts believe that we have the power to create our own luck without even realizing it. According to an article I recently read on "Experts agree that with a few simple steps, you can significantly increase the chances of meeting your soul mate, finding the right business partner, or steering your life in a new direction. That might sound unlikely or even naive, but there's real science to prove that while you can't control the randomness of life, you can definitely create your own luck."

And, according to Dr. Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, "we have far more control over the element—and outcome—of chance in our lives than we realize. In fact, he argues that only 10 percent of life is truly random—the remaining 90 percent is actually defined by the way you think." In the article, I also found this nugget from Dr. Wiseman: "'Lucky people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives,' Wiseman notes. If luck means being in the right place at the right time, he adds, 'being in the right place at the right time is actually all about being in the right state of mind.'"

I really believe what Dr. Wiseman is saying. Sure, we'd love to go around claiming that circumstances are everything -- but they're not. Yes, they can impact your life to some degree, but you also have a lot more power than you realize (which is both awesome and terrifying!). It's up to you to find the luck in your life. So here are some tips from the article (each followed with my own insights) on how you can create your own luck -- starting right now!


4 Ways to Create Your Own Luck


Prepare Your Mind. If you want good things to happen to you, you have to get yourself in a good -- positive! -- state of mind. I've mentioned this countless times before but I'll write it again: if you'd not looking for good things in your life, you won't find them. How you view the world is all up to you, and luck is exactly the same way. If you're on the lookout for lucky things, you'll find them!


Give Chance a Chance. If you want to have good luck in your life, you have to put yourself out there. Staying home all the time and sticking only to your routines is a sure way to remain luck-less. You have to put yourself out there -- change things up a bit -- if you want to encounter all the good luck that's out there in the world. Switch up the way you do things -- or the things that you're doing -- and you may just catch a lucky break.


Relax. According to Dr. Wiseman, if you're stressed out or focused on the negative things in your life, you're not likely to notice the luck that may be coming your way. Hard as it might be to do sometimes, remember to relax and keep your life in perspective. Doing so will help keep your mind open to the positive, lucky things happening all around you. And going with the flow can lead you to exciting new opportunities, which are often the sources of good luck!


Build Your Network of Luck. Dr. Wiseman advises us to do two things: stay connected to the people we know and make new connections when we can. Why? Because the bigger your network is, the more opportunities you'll have to get lucky (and, no, I don't mean like that). Putting yourself out there and really making an effort to connect with others will open doors that otherwise would have remained closed. It takes effort to keep up connections, but the more work you do, the more luck you'll have!

Regardless of your belief (or not) in luck, you can't deny that the tips above are great ways to cultivate a more positive life. The more you open your mind, the more you experience, the more you're going to get out of your one and only life. Luck might seem, at times, like it's out of reach -- but, really, it is up to you. Starting today, take Dr. Wiseman's advice (after all, with a name like that, how can you not?) and start creating your own luck!

would you like you if you met you?: 9 tips to be likeable


We all want positive influences in our lives and many of us are searching for them relentlessly -- foraging friendships and letting those go who don't inspire us -- but often we forget to ask ourselves if we are positive influences. We go through life looking for positivity and seeking it in others without really assessing what it is that we're giving back to others. Cliche as it sounds, you get what you give. Once I started thinking about this topic, I my mind started racing with questions -- questions we all could be asking ourselves. So, take a moment, stop what you're doing, and ask yourself these questions: 


  • What kind of vibe do I give off? 
  • How do I convey my beliefs and thoughts to others? 
  • How enjoyable am I to be around? 
  • What makes me interesting? Fun? Positive? 
  • What am I giving back to those around me? 


Honestly, when I stopped and really answered these questions for myself, I wasn't as happy with the answers as I would like to be. There are times when I'm just plain not fun to be around. I'm in a rush or I'm stressed or I'm thinking to myself, "What's next?" And who wants to be around someone who isn't enjoying the moment, but is instead thinking about what she has to do next? I certainly wouldn't want to be around someone like that, and yet, I am someone like that more often than I'd like. 

The whole "get what you give" concept is cliche, yes, but it's also true. If you want to be around a certain type of person, you need to be that type of person. If you don't feel as if you are the type of person you would want to spend time with, you must ask yourself:


What can I do to make myself the kind of person I want to be around? 


Of course, I'm not at all suggesting that you change who you are. At our very core, we have certain attributes and characteristics that make us who we are. We should be true to ourselves. But there are parts of ourselves that we can alter and tweak so that we are more enjoyable to be around. It might sound like this is changing ourselves for others, but, in reality, the more enjoyable you are to be around, the more people will want to be with you and the more enjoyment you'll find for yourself. 

I don't have any magic formula when it comes to making yourself a likeable, enjoyable person to be around. Everyone is unique and the people we surround ourselves with are unique as well. In some social circles, it might be important to be quiet and reserved, while in others its imperative that one be outgoing and boisterous. Though it's up to you to assess your own social circle and your own personal pros and cons, I can offer some generic words of wisdom when it comes to being a likeable person who is enjoyable to spend time with. 


9 Ways To Be More Likeable

1. Be yourself. The more you stay true to yourself, the more likeable you will be. This might not seem obvious because you might wonder, "What if no one likes the real me?" It can be really hard to be yourself -- especially if you feel like you don't fit in -- but even if you are different from other people, when you are true to yourself, people appreciate that. Just think about the last time you met someone who was truly being him/herself. Even if you didn't really relate to him or her, you have to admit that there is something fantastic about someone who is comfortable with who they are. Strive to emulate that in your own life.

2. Stay in the moment. Despite the fact that the word "present" is in the title of my site, staying in the moment is very hard for me -- and it really takes away from me being a likeable person. When I'm worrying about what I'm going to do next or focusing on what happened before, I'm not enjoying the moment -- and I'm making it less enjoyable for those around me. Stay present to make yourself happier -- and more likeable to be around.

3. Be open to new ideas. The more open you are to new ideas, the more enjoyable it is to be in your company. People want to be around people who will be receptive to them and encourage them. Shooting down others ideas and only asserting your own is a sure way to lose friends. While it's critical to be yourself, it's equally as important to be open and willing to hear what others have to say. And that leads us to #4...

4. Learn to listen. If you want to be a likeable person, one of the best things you can do for yourself is learn to become an excellent listener. Sure, people want to hear you talk too, but what people really want is someone who can listen to what they're saying. Listening seems like a basic skill, but it's a tough one for me to master. I always want to jump in with my thoughts and ideas so learning to be a better listener is something I really have to work on -- and you can too!

5. Go with the flow. Another tough one for me is going with the flow. I love my routines and schedules and favorite things/foods/places, so breaking out of my comfort zone and just going with the flow can be really difficult for me. However, I know this is a crucial step to being an enjoyable person to be around. No one wants to be around people so stuck in their ways that they don't want to compromise so if you want to be likeable, you have to learn to give a little and just go with the flow.

6. Point out the positive. You and I both know that no one wants to be around someone negative all the time. It's such a downer and it really is one of the worst ways to be likeable. One of the best ways, of course, is to be positive! People love to have people around who bring with them positive energy and who focus on the good things. Next time you're surrounded by others, try taking a moment to point out some positive things about the situation and see how others respond.

7. Avoid negative judgments. Judging is a surefire way to make some enemies -- and to promote negativity -- and we all know that that's not what you want when you're trying to be an enjoyable person to be around. As fun as judging can be sometimes, it's not the glue you want to use to hold a friendship or relationship together. Instead of bonding with someone by critiquing others, try to bring up positive points about other people and unite over those things instead. People don't want to be judged so avoiding negative judgments can really help to make you a more likeable person to spend time with.

8. Be interested -- and interesting. Here's the thing: when I'm bored, it's very obvious that I'm bored. I'm not all that great at feigning interest. But this is something I need to work on. I once read somewhere: "Only boring people get bored," and I believe that to be true. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, there's something interesting going on. Find out what it is and focus on it. Ask good questions. And, importantly, bring your own interesting facts to the table. Don't be afraid to share with others because everyone loves an interesting person!

9. Respect others (and yourself). One of the most basic things you can do in any situation if you want to be likeable is to treat others with respect. No matter what others do/say, it's important to be respectful of them and their ideas or words. If you want to be enjoyable to be around, you have to have respect for others -- and that all starts with having respect for yourself. A lack of respect for yourself is a great way to be unlikeable so start with self-love and cultivating a sense of self-respect to make yourself an enjoyable person to be around.


As you can see, being likeable doesn't mean being someone you're not. It's never a good idea to pretend to be someone else or to change the essence of who you are to fit in with a group, but it doesn't hurt to assess ways you can be more enjoyable to be around. After all, the more enjoyable you are to be around, the more enjoyable situations will be for you. If you remain true to yourself and follow the nine steps above, you'll be well on your way to being the kind of person you'd like if you met you.