What is Fear?

Emotions play an important part in our daily lives and fear is one such emotion. It is an unpleasant emotion caused by a perceived threat and is pre-programmed into all animals and people as an instinctive response to potential danger.

Biologically speaking, when a person experiences fear, certain areas in their brain take control causing physical reactions such as:

* Rapid heart rate
* Increased blood pressure
* Tightening of muscles
* Increased sweating

All these are protective mechanisms to increase our chances of survival.

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What we do today contributes to tomorrow success and happiness. How, therefore, should we fill our day?
What daily practices should we complete to lead a holistic and happy life? Are we living each day as if it were our last and would we be proud of our life at the end of that day? Are we an inspiration or warning to others?
Since we opened our doors at Inspire, I have been asking myself these questions at the beginning and end of each day. They are the catalysts to ensure the day ahead of me is one that I am proud of; a day of fruitful conversations, meaningful work and valued time with my family and friends.

What we do daily, even if imperfectly, will bring more success than what we do perfectly, occasionally.
Here my recommendations to maximize our day:

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At dinner last week, the conversation got onto the books that impacted ones thinking or philosophy. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand was a book that I read at the age of 15; it has stayed with me ever since. I was surprised (because it is a heavy read) that one of the other guests had a similar experience.

The philosophy of Fountainhead is individualism. It says: think for yourself, draw your own conclusions, choose your own values and live by your own standards. It celebrates the heroism of the “men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.”

The novel suggests that the few who lead truly “first-hand” lives of independent judgment are the source (the fountainhead) of all creative achievement. The primary example of this is the novel’s hero Howard Roark, who does not seek popularity or prestige, but does his work in architecture according to his own standards and style — he thinks for himself, judges for himself and makes decisions based solely on his own thinking and judgment.

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Our Comfort Zone – what is it? The words are obvious. It is “that place” where we feel comfortable, right? So why can’t we stay there longer? Why does it consistently change? Why are we pushed out of that zone when it is comfortable and cosy?

I started asking these questions when I began practicing yoga. I remember my teachers always saying: “To transform and change you need to move out of your comfort zone.” Back then, I was resistant. I didn’t want to get out. I liked where I was.

Thinking more about “that place”, I had doubts and noticed that many things in my life felt different. The environment and the events, my body and mindset, even the people, have since changed. Then it hit me – “that place” was no longer my zone of comfort. It was shocking to realize that it was a zone of half-comfort; even discomfort. Immediately, I wanted to change, to move on and to find “that place” again – the zone where I felt comfortable in myself.

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Embrace Change

Change is good, and we either crave or dread it. It built, and continues to build, civilizations. It led you to where you are right now. It could come as a result of a decision you have made (a self-imposed change), or it could just come out of the blue and catch you off guard. Whatever life throws at you, no matter how good, bad, scary or exciting a situation is, it will always change sooner or later. You may resist change or welcome it, but it is always there.

Change is inevitable. It is a constant denominator. The only variable is your behavior.

That is why, I made it my friend! For 10 years now in my 37 years of existence (turning 38 after a few more days), no dramatic change has happened yet that I did not initiate. I will not let you drag me, Change!

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What is your Why

Why did you get up in the morning? Why did you eat what you ate? Why did you wear what you wore? Why did you go to work in the morning? Why are you here?

These were the questions posed in the opening sequence of a movie I watched recently. They are powerful questions to which I personally need an answer. You see, I am not the sort of individual that can just drift through life; my bet is that neither are you!
Unlike animals, which are driven simply to survive, humans crave more from life than mere existence. Without an answer to the question Why am I here? we can quickly fall into disillusionment, distraction and a quiet sense of despair. The increase in drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide, along with the growing reliance on antidepressant and anxiety medications, seem to indicate many are doing just that – drifting through life without a purpose. Given we are wealthier today than at any time in history, there is clearly a difference between ‘well off’ and ‘well-being.’

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It is international Women’s day March 8th. During the month we pay tribute to women by focussing on tapping into our feminine energy.

At this point it is important to know that Feminine energy doesn’t necessarily represent the female human body and Masculine energy doesn’t necessarily represent the male human body. Furthermore, each of us has both the Feminine and Masculine energy inside us. If this weren’t the case, men couldn’t be creative and women would not have logical thought (though John sometimes accuses me of that!)

Today’s world values, and is dominated by male energy. Let me explain what I mean.

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The month of February is known for many things. One of the most common is Valentine’s Day, which has been taken over by commercial interests around the world to sell more chocolates, stuffed toys, greeting cards, jewellery, and to fill restaurants with people pursuing romance. Rather than be turned off by the gross commercialization of the day, I choose to focus on its roots; the expression of love (OK, go on, call me a hopeless romantic).

When thinking about love, one of the pieces of literature which resonates with me is the following reading, which by the way, Elisa and I used at our wedding.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

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The end of one year and start of another is always a time of reflection on the year that was and the lessons we learnt along the way. It is also time for resolutions and a time to share good wishes for the upcoming year.

Our wish for 2017 is a life of abundance for our family, friends and colleagues.

Abundance and prosperity are buzzwords we hear quite often. For many people the first thing these words bring to mind are money and material possessions. That is too simplistic a view. Abundance is about much more than the number of zeros in your bank account; it is about being rich, with or without money.

Abundance is:

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Quoting Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne) may seem out of place; our advice, don’t scoff but take a look at some of his wonderful quotes – you will be inspired!

This month we are talking about Gratitude. Recently someone sent me a link to an article in the New York Times titled: “Choose to be Grateful. You will be Happier.” At the time I briefly thought about the motivation – was it simply wanting to share a good article with a colleague who would appreciate this kind of philosophy or did he think that I needed help. For the record, I wasn’t offended and chose to treat it as a gift, something for which to be grateful.

For those interested, it is worth reading the whole article (NYT Article: ). For people who want the synthesised version, the key message is simple: you do not need to feel thankful to be grateful, rather, by actively choosing to practice gratitude we raise our happiness. This assertion is supported with references to numerous research reports and experiments. One amusing assertion is that expressing gratitude has a downside as there is some research suggesting it could make you fat (there is evidence that people begin to crave sweets when they are asked to express gratitude).

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