What I Learned the Week of February 18th, 2022

From a Podcast …We have 150+ Emotions?!?!

One of my new favorite podcasts is Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman. This week I was delighted to see their latest interview was with one of my absolute favorite people to hear talk – Brene Brown. She is promoting her new book Atlas of the Heart which I cannot wait to read.

In the podcast, she shared some of what their latest research had uncovered which was about emotions. This research was based on over 550,000 comments from 70,000 people from around the world who had taken one of her online courses. What they discovered at first was alarming. They went through that in even more detail and identified more specifically 150 emotions that once they were named helps the person get through something we are stuck with. After this, they brought in several clinicians/therapists into a room with all of the emotions up on a wall and asked them to identify which of these emotions did they believe were critical for their clients to be able to name to enable moving forward positively. From that exercise, they identified eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. In her book, she apparently explores these core emotions in more detail and provides a new framework for cultivating meaningful connections.


“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” was a quote shared somewhere in the discussion with a brilliant story that is worth hearing straight from Brene. She had done early research to understand what was the average number of emotions that people could easily identify with. She hypothesized the average answer would be 6-7. It turned out to be 3. Most people could easily name happy, angry, or sad.

That’s sad.

In my 1:1 coaching, I routinely ask my clients to name their emotions or what they feel and I immediately sense the frustration on the other end of the phone/video in being asked that question (yet again). I now have much more empathy for them in that frustration though they will be unhappy to hear that this will not keep me from continuing to ask this all-important question. Maybe I’ll have to start including a free copy of Brene’s book in my coaching packages. 🙂

From a Book or Article …The Boxes We Put Ourselves In

More of a good reminder from an oldie but goodie.

One of the most common books I have found recommended about leadership in corporate organizations is Leadership and Self Deception by The Arbinger Institute. I have recommended it so many times in the past that I have become lazy and stopped recommending it as I moved onto new leadership/self-development books. I was reminded this week that it still has legs which further prompted reflecting that I personally appreciated the prequel to it, Anatomy of Peace, much better.

In Anatomy of Peace, you get the back story, which is more personal, about the characters in Leadership in Self Deception which was mostly set in a corporate context. In Anatomy, there is a great section that explains that when we put ourselves into a box (i.e., we stop being authentic) there are one of four boxes we tend to be in. I must be seen as box. The better than box. The I deserve box. And the worse than box.

When I first read this book approximately 7 years ago I immediately resonated with the I must be seen as box. I must be seen as a great parent. A great leader. A great facilitator. A great coach. Friend. Daughter. Wife. Sister. etc.,. Which was exhausting, to say the least. After a lot of coaching and personal development, I learned to not get into that box quite so much. That doesn’t mean I have lifetime immunity as only a few weeks back I caught myself dipping my toe in it as I surfed through social media and found myself comparing to others and wanting to “best” them. Fortunately, this lesson didn’t need to be given twice as I quickly shook my head, turned off my iPad, and stated firmly “enough”.

Catching yourself before you go into a box is the goal. But if you find yourself in it – getting out before any significant damage is made is pretty rewarding as well. It’s definitely a book worth reading or re-reading from time to time. 🙂

From a Real Live People …The Delight of a Good Walkie/Talkie

This past weekend I made my first border crossing from British Columbia to Washington State since November 2019 to visit my mom and her husband in Port Townsend. It was a big deal for all of us and lots to celebrate. It was also the first time my new dog Zola was visiting this lovely area and I was keen to take her on the beach/forest walks to explore.

My mom, Amelia, and her husband, Isaac, are both very philosophical people who enjoy a good deep conversation about anything. And our talks are further enriched when we take it onto our legs and do what I like to call a walkie/talkie. I always find the conversation flows even deeper when you get your body moving. The pauses of silence feel more comfortable with no one feeling an urge to fill the gap. Allowing for the conversation to have a more natural ebb and flow without feeling forced. Little things catch someone’s eye that might take us slightly off course but if the stream of thought we left was truly strong enough we’d easily jump back in without any resentment for the distraction.

It would be fascinating to observe the differences in communication between those that are sitting around and stationary to those where you are both on the move. I have to imagine that the research would show that there are unique benefits to talking while you are walking and thus we should all be doing more of it.

From Social Media … Salad Jar Hack

I’m late to TikTok and fully admit that when I get on it I get sucked in quickly for much longer than I’d like to admit. Fortunately, I only find myself on it at most once a week but inevitably there is at least one piece of value out of it that brings me back for the next time. This week it was a clever idea of creating salad in a jar. I won’t be responsible for getting you sucked into it as well and just explain in its most elegant simplicity.

Take a mason jar of reasonable size. Pour into the bottom your favorite dressing – a couple of tablespoons. Next start layering in other ingredients that you would want in your salad beginning with those ingredients that are the heaviest (e.g., proteins, chunky vegetables). Then continue layering lighter items, particularly those you wouldn’t want to become soggy from the dressing. Finish with whatever lettuce, arugula, or leafy vegetable you have. Put the lid on it and then store it in the fridge for 1-4 days. When you are ready to eat simply pour it out onto your plate/bowl. It’s 100% done.

For me, this was one more clever trick to make eating salads easier to eat. Whether I’m eating at home and simply battling back-to-back meetings or wanting to take them on the road where there may be limited choices – eating healthy is getting easier and easier.

From My Reflections … Sleep is Better When My Mind is At Peace

I keep a daily journal that I write in almost every morning. I always start it with 4 pieces of information. The date, what time I woke up, how much alcohol I had the night before, and then a sentence or two about the quality of my sleep. If I woke up unusually early/late I’ll add comments that might explain why (e.g., went to bed later than usual). If the quality was poor I reflect on what might have attributed to this (e.g., 1 too many glasses of red wine or worried about xyz).

What I have noticed this past week is simply how I have been sleeping just a little bit later each day. I typically wake up before 6am (often 5:30’ish) and ready to go. Occasionally a day that extends past 6 which I never thought of as unusual. But reflecting over the past week I see it has consistently been past 6 which is unusual.

When I pondered why and what might be different I could only come up with one answer. That many things that had been open switches for me were finally being addressed. Whether they were decisions finally made and acted upon or taking the time to get clarity on specific items that rattled around in my brain on walks. I do not think I appreciated how much energy I was expending “thinking” about these items. Whether thinking about doing (and not doing for a variety of reasons) or just thinking for the sake of understanding.

And now that they have been addressed, and nothing yet inserted to fill the space they took up, my mind and body are at peace and relaxed.

On a side note, I have struggled for years with the practice of keeping a journal. I prefer my self-reflections to be more verbally with others or totally in my head while in nature. However, this daily journal practice is proving to be quite valuable in creating more self-awareness about my mind and body. It does not need to be much. Whatever you might want to monitor over time (i.e., water intake, exercise routine, etc.,). But I do recommend that if you keep a journal make sleep a part of your recording. I know that we have watches and apps that can tell us quite a bit about our sleep quality however they don’t tell us what else could be going on which might be useful to understand when your sleep improves/declines. And as sleep is considered one of the most important things we can do for good mental health it is worth tracking.

One thought on “What I Learned the Week of February 18th, 2022

  1. Totally enjoys this and I would like to see you flush out the walking/talking insights. I think you are really onto something!


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