Category: Work-Life Balance

Photo credit: Naional Geographic Kids

We all know that negative thoughts directly impact our happiness.  But did you know that negative thoughts are actually literally poisonous to our psychological and emotional health?

Case in Point

 Let’s imagine you are sitting in your family room after having watched the news on TV regarding the much anticipated hurricane Irma. You are by yourself and go to bed immediately after, with thoughts of worry and concern. Am I prepared? Did I buy what we needed? Is our home insulated well? Then all of a sudden, the rain starts outside and you hear drops of rain tapping on the window. Before you realize it, the sound magnifies and all you can hear are the water droplets on the window. You start by thinking “oh my gosh, what if that leaky faucet we’ve had in the kids bathroom doesn’t handle the pressure? “ “What if the pool overflows into the house? “What if Katie accidentally falls in the pool when she is out doing her business?” And on and on and on, your thoughts are racing. You have to wake up early the next day and you have now spent over an hour tossing and turning in bed, flooded with so many negative thoughts about a hurricane that has not even been determined to effect your area.

How Did You Get Here?   

All of this was triggered by the sound of rain. Something simple, was transformed into something very hazardous by your thoughts. Automatic Negative Thoughts are just exactly that. Slow, but consistent at first, and then turn by turn, they have the potential to form in to a category 5 hurricane if we allow them. Its possible to stop them, but very difficult.   Why? Because they have literally gotten your mind sick!

Here’s how thoughts grow into a phenomenon in our brain within the Limbic System. The two very serious illnesses of depression and anxiety are heavily caused by rumination, obsessions and the elaborate need for control of people and our environment. The need for control first begins with a single thought “what is going to happen?” Then it begins to take hold of our psyche and quickly turns in to fear, if it is not reasoned with. Why fear? Because the answer to “what is going to happen?” will always be “I don’t know”. If voluntarily stopped right away with a statement such as “I guess we will have to see” or “god knows” or “no one knows” or my personal favorite “let the chips fall where they may” we will ride through a few seconds of concern and then the gateway to fear will close. Otherwise, if the gate is opened and we answer “gosh, what if ….”, or “this is not good” , or “why did he say that and not …’, or “is it because I said,,,,”, we have now entered the land of chaos, despair, hopelessness, and self-doubt. There is a Liberian proverb that says: “ Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.”

What Are you Thinking?

Every time you have an angry, scary, sad or happy thought, your body releases chemicals that activate your brain’s limbic system. Dr. Mark George, M.D., from the National Institutes of Mental Health, demonstrated this in a significant study. He studied brain activity in 10 healthy women under three different laboratory conditions. Through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), their brains were viewed as these women were illicitted to think happy, neutral and sad thoughts. During the happy thoughts, the women’s brains demonstrated a cooling of the deep limbic system. During the sad thoughts, there was a significant increase in deep limbic system activity. This is evidence that our thoughts tell our bodies what to do and hence we can tell our thoughts what to think. Polygraph and Lie detector tests, or what we actually believe to be most accurate here at the Center for Work Life, through Credibility assessment and Facial Action Coding, are based on this Limbic System response algorithm.

The Make Up of the Limbic System

The various parts of the the Limbic System, the Hypothalamus, the Amygdala, the Hippocampus, and the Cingulate Cortex all have different functions and hence different hormones associated. The hormones are impacted by our thoughts and set the tone for our emotional wellbeing. The more unhappy, fearful, anxious thoughts we have the more sick our brain will get and the more those thoughts will form within us.   The same way, our immune system weakens with lack of sleep, alcohol, poor diet etc. Happy, positive experiences and thoughts are like boosters and vitamins for the Limbic System.

Photo Credit: Think Tank Centre



To Be or Not to Be Following our Thoughts

Just the same way as our thoughts can work for us during a speaking presentation, when we are excited and a surge of adrenaline allows our brain to give the best performance, or when we meet someone, and know we are attracted to them because, butterflies form in our stomach and think we want to have a meaningful relationship with them, it can work against us. Many people believe just because it is a thought, it must be true. Well, that is not correct! Unless you consciously think about your thoughts, they can form pretty automatically. We can think of them as pimples. Yes, your skin can automatically form pimples, but with a good skincare regimen coupled with the proper water intake, and diet and exercise, your skin is constantly resurfaced and cleansed, training everyday to not have pimples.

Socio-cultural Influences

Our culture is one of future planning. College savings, Life Insurance Policies, 401K plans, Saving’s Bonds, Mutual Funds, and even Home Mortgages etc. are all designed tools for the future. Forget about the concept of Capitalism and who profits here, and let’s stay with the “what” part of it. As human beings, were we meant to be future oriented? Or did we become conditioned somewhere along the way to become that way? Well, looking at Research in to other mammalian species, the dog for example, could help us realize that, we could be perfectly content living in the moment. Now, we are not advocating going out and maxing out credit cards, and forgetting about saving for our future, but we are saying, we can plan for tomorrow but live for today. In other words, when we think about happenings around us, we can use our Emotional Intelligence and divide them in to three categories easily: 1. the plannable, 2. The unplannable, 3. Somewhere in between.

 Whether we are working a full-time job out there, or working full-time at home, as a home maker or parent, our work week is in The Somewhere in Between category. We can plan what activities we want to be engaged in, whom those activities will be involving, and even times those activities can be scheduled for. However, the outcomes of those activities, the length in real time it will take to complete the actitivities, the propellers vs. the hinderers will not be plannable. If you try to plan or analyze, or predict outcomes, you will spin yourself in to anxiety. The trick: You have to stop any future oriented, uncontrollable outcome related thoughts right away before they get hold of your brain. In other words, if they have already gotten to the 3rd scenario or “what if,” in this case, they are way too powerful to stop.

8 Everyday Exercises for a Healthy and Happy Brain at Work or in Life

  1. I am not in control; a power greater than me is.
  2. I surrender and accept whatever comes my way
  3. Uncertainty is a part of being alive
  4. When I am faced with an activity that worries me, I will imagine my favorite beach and I will get in, prepared but free to experience every wave.
  5. I will cross bridges as I arrive at them, and enjoy the process no matter what
  6. As soon as a negative thought enters my head, I treat it like a hurricane warning, I prepare, stay alert but calm, and use my support system.
  7. Keep record of my past trials and accomplishments and send empowering messages to my psyche
  8. I push myself to stay present in every task circumstance and tribulation.


 A very powerful quote by one of the most celebrated Persian Sufi Poets of the 14th Century Mahmud Shabistari said: “The past has flown away. The coming month and year do not exist. Ours only is the present’s tiny Point.”


Executive Time Performance Management

The culture of quick riches, and success by how much you own and how many people you know, has given life to a “more is better” mentality. Movie such as Equilibrium, and Limitless have portrayed the transformation of the human capacity with “miracle” prescription drugs that allow one to do more with their time; and without care.


What came to life as of lack of concerntration, possibly due to exposure to too much stimulation such as gaming and televion in the 70’s quickly transformed in to the labeling of ADHD in children. Since the diagnosis was first introduced, the use and prescription of stimulant drugs has overshadowed what in actuality was a result of proper time management. Today, there are millions and millions of Americans using and abusing and becoming addicted to drugs such as Adderall and Concerta because they feel they need a boost in their energy and performance and the nonmedical use of Adderall is a large part of what this accounts for. Since 2012, for the first time doctors have been writing more prescriptions for stimulants for adults than for children and one of the greatest at risk populations for Adderall use are professionals ages 25-44.


Executives and entrepreneurs often feel trapped because they are feeling overly stressed, or are faced with some realities that are alarming to them. May be they feel their job has no future, or that they simply are not able to do the things that are meaningful to them in the time they have. They feel their passion and drive for life and their work is not where it used to be. This is usually a precursor for high levels of stress, bodily symptoms, chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression.


Executives are often times perfectionist. They usually push themselves to the limit; racing against the clock with a thousand things to do in one day. It is very typical for them to plan too much in one day and feel exhausted and unsatisfied with their day’s accomplishments. Feeling dissatisfied, agitated, an run down is the breathing ground for a spiral of anxiety and depression.


A large part of Emotional Intelligence Training is self-management. Learning to say “No” and knowing when to give yourself a break is easier said than done. At the Center For Work Life, one of the first steps we introduce in the coaching process for stress and time management is the discovery of purpose and spirituality. We don’t call it Time Management, but Energy and Performance Management. Replacing old behaviors with new ones requires open space; open space to allow introspection and reality checking and questioning some of the programmed patterns that have become engrained in our psyche. Here, we start by thought provoking questions such as What am I all about? What in my life gives meaning to my existence? What are my passions and how am I feeding those today? Am I fulfilled in my career? Taking the time to answer these questions will open the door to nurturing your spirit and you then begin the healing and growth process.


So what about Time Management? At this point, it is “time” to note that in our book, time is not in our control.   It cannot be stopped or pushed around. So it isn’t time per say that we need to learn and focus on managing, but rather ourselves. Have you ever asked yourself “Am I allowing others to manage and direct my life or am I living My Life?


Here are ten questions you can answer to find out:


  1. Do you take on tasks as they come your way?
  2. Do you plan your day according to a set number of tasks ?
  3. Do you use caffeine, sugar and other stimulants throughout the day to keep alert and get through the day?
  1. Do you feel guilty saying “no” to other people’s demands on your time?
  2. Do you take on highly demanding days with rigor and push yourself?
  3. Do you feel you have to get through your list and do everything yourself?
  4. Do you have negative and irritating people around you that demand you  attention?
  1. When you feel tired, do you talk yourself through it and keep going?
  2. Do you constantly respond to emails, messages, calls, visits, and family without me time?
  1. Do you have a difficult time relaxing and feel guilty when you do nothing?


If you answered yes to at least four of these questions, you would be happy to know that you have lots of room for growth and recalibration of your stress management and time satisfaction techniques. You are probably someone who is not quite comfortable spending time with or on yourself. Performing at your best, does not mean running on high horsepower, 100 miles an hour. Learning to recognize your body signals, including your brains processing ability, and compassionately nurturing your inner learner to utilize your problem solving skills and critical thinking, will enable you confront something that none of us truly have control over; Time.

For more free tips and techniques for a better work life, visit our website at

Dr. Farnaz Namin’s children’s book, The Ocean’s Riddle, recently became an Amazon Best-Seller.

Center for Work Life happily extends congratulations!


amazo buy


The Ocean’s Riddle is a story that embodies some of Center for Work Life’s primary values. The book offers a great example of work life balance which can be seen in the mother’s time spent with her child. Beyond work life balance, the concept of emotional intelligence is important to the characters as they interact and grow to understand each other better. Though fun, engaging and colorful for children, this book also offers important lessons for children and adults. It is vital to never lose sight of one’s values. Congratulations again to Dr. Farnaz for a job well done.


The Ocean’s Riddle:

This is the only tale of perseverance ever told by a courageous oyster from under the sea.  A young boy makes a new friend who tells him a story about bravery. Set in a beautiful ocean world, the lesson learned is one he’ll never forget.

What a delightful way to teach children ways to overcome challenges and foster perseverance. Dr. Namin’s gentle message will likely resonate in the ears and minds of children as they read and reread “The Ocean’s Riddle” for years to come. A great addition to any parent, teacher or counselor’s library.

~ Kim Taylor 
First Grade Teacher 



Currently only available in English. 
Recommended for Ages 1-8. 
Look for it soon in board back form.



About the Author:

Farnaz Namin, Ph.D., is a doctor of psychology and the Principal at Center for Work Life. She has more than 15 years of psychology practice experience within the US and abroad. She is the constant catalyst to change as the Florida Key Psychologist, representing state and federal work-force regulatory planning and legislature.  She was the 2013 honoree of the OBJ Women Who Mean Business, and is regularly sought as an expert speaker, speaking on complex topics such as employment, talent acquisition, leadership development, and team effectiveness.  Because of her vast experience in corporate and government environments, she is able to bring a fresh, unique and research driven perspective in her dynamic and groundbreaking workshops and seminars.  She is a regular guest expert on media networks such as FOX, HLN, and scientific publications for trade and professional magazines, such as the Huffington Post, Boston Herald, and The New York Post.

Click here to read more about Dr. Farnaz Namin…


The Ocean’s Riddle on Amazon
(Ebook and Paperback)
Champions Publishing

Join The Ocean’s Riddle on Facebook for updates




This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal


Center for Work Life of Orlando, Florida is an award-winning executive development firm providing leadership and management training to executives and organizations. Our main services include executive coachingleadership developmentexecutive succession planningemotional intelligence trainingcareer planningstaff development, and communication in the workplace.


Management Monday: Men and Women’s Work Life Balance Management Struggles…

Credit carvalho, flickr, no editing


Men and women face overwhelming cultural shifts in work expectations and home life responsibilities. Both genders desire to have successful career and family lives, but how do those two goals mesh with each other? Trends suggest they are still a long way from finding a happy marriage. One Pew Research Center report showed that men are dedicating more hours to helping at home and women have doubled hours of paid work since 1965. However, an American time use survey by the US Department of Labor showed that women are still doing nearly double the amount of house and family work than men. At the same time, the Pew Research Center report shows that paid work hours for men have barely dropped and according to NPR only 3.5% of stay-at-home parents are fathers.

While women are finding themselves caught up trying to balance double the housework and manage a career, many men are facing social pressures and unbending standards in their work environment. For example, the New York Times article The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility mentions that men who are seeking to spend more time with their families are often seen as feminine. Unfortunately, studies show that at the end of the day, women are perpetuating the lack of balance and men have little guilt over the whole discussion. Meanwhile, men, women and society may not be taking the correct approaches in changing the trajectory of these issues. This needs to change.

The Guilty Party: Men and Women

The Solution: Men Need to Care More and Women Need to Care Less

1)      Women say they would like to spend more time with family. Why is this a stumbling block? Well, it’s obviously good to want to spend more time with family. But statistics do show that working women speak more passionately about family life than men (HBR). It would seem logical to admit that this might enable men to feel less responsible for household and family issues.

2)      Women often embrace a sense of identity as overworked and a supermom balancing it all and then dwell on struggles. Articles and blog posts are filled with accounts from many mothers of their “doing it all” bind. Simply put by Henry Ford, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are probably right.” This isn’t to say women are masquerading as overworked and then it becomes real. More accurately, the more women focus on negatives, the less time they can spend overcoming the problem.

3)      Mothers desire to advance their careers, but still see themselves as the leader in household responsibilities. As a result they expect to be overworked and overwhelmed. In Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card wrote “Perhaps it is impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.” In other words, perhaps mothers often set out with a skewed mindset and expectation. This mindset also often prevents spouses from offering needed help, because women don’t ask or they refuse help because they feel a need to do it all.

4)      Fathers conform to the “breadwinner” standard that’s still very popular, but worse, they feel no guilt in having their wife shoulder all household responsibilities. This is highlighted in a study of executive fathers (Slate).

5)      Fathers desire to help more at home, but most don’t embrace a sense of responsibility. They still look to the female as the lead in the household department.

6)      Men and women find role reversal and attaining balance very stressful (NPR Survey), but they often don’t seek work life balance guidance.

7)      Mothers, fathers and other authoritative figures are still encouraging gender bias in children. They may discourage a boy from playing with dolls or cooking. This leads to perceived gender roles, which combats efforts toward shared opportunity and balance for current and future generations (NPR).

No one is blameless in this circus. Each side is enabling the other to continue in unhealthy cycles. At the end of the day, each family must carve out for themselves the right answers. But universally it seems obvious that women are overly stressed and concerned about these issues across the board, while men are facing similar pressures, but face less guilt and feel less motivated to change. While the list above highlights where men and women need to improve and create positive change, there are plenty of strides already happening in the correct direction. Celebrities like Tim McGraw have spoken about the importance of finding time for family and creating balance (People). Understanding the obstacles listed above should help empower women to realize they shouldn’t have to do it all and men to realize they need to step up more. Every situation is unique and each family must carve out their own perfect balance. Based on statistics, in most cases, women would do well to lower their expectations of themselves. Both men and women would also do well to talk openly with their spouses. Finally, men can step up more to share responsibility.


Photo Credit: Carvalho



Related Reads:

Career Couple Ego Slam 
Work Life Balance Elephant Theory 
Work Life Balance Training 
Work Life Balance Challenges for Men

This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal


Center for Work Life of Orlando, Florida is an award-winning executive development firm providing leadership and management training to executives and organizations. Our main services include executive coachingleadership developmentexecutive succession planningemotional intelligence trainingcareer planningstaff development, and communication in the workplace.


Like elephants, humans are K-Selected creatures. According to the r/K Selection Theory, r-Selected animals have high multitudes of offspring and allow them to fend for themselves, but K-Selected species have fewer offspring and play a bigger role in helping offspring thrive. This ties into the hot topic of work life balance, family and personal values currently circulating in the business world. Like elephants, humans have a natural desire to nurture their young, and like elephants, that involves an array of points to consider. Though it wouldn’t have been the first topic to come to mind, it’s time to stop and ask what parents and society as a whole can learn from elephants when it comes to work life balance.

elephantinasuit - free imageWork Life Balance Elephant Theory

1)      According to the standards of nature, work and life should be integrated

Elephants are no different than humans in that they must provide for their families. They may not be leaving for an office job in a suit, but they’re searching for resources and teaching their young to forage. Migration to attain resources is their day job. However, the work life balance of elephants doesn’t become a discussion. Why? Well, they’re animals. But in addition, for elephants, like most other K-Selected creatures aside from humans, work and life are integrated. The elephant’s young are with them when the work is getting done. In fact, this is an important aspect of how the young learn to survive. What is the take away here? Somewhere in the evolution of culture, it was decided that contributing to society is work, and work must be done in a child free zone. It was decided that in a work environment, there won’t be acknowledgement of personal needs or children or families.

It may be a good time in human evolution to pause and consider if this is truly the best method for survival. Is it better to allow more overlap between work and life? From a logical perspective, this analysis would explain why there are now many positive studies related to telecommute and flexible jobs. Liane Hornsey, the Google VP of Operations, showcases the success of this mentality at Google. When asked about work life balance at Google in an interview on Meet the Boss, Liane explains that the company is outcome focused, not detail focused. In other words, they don’t monitor what time employees arrive or keep track of sick days. They focus on performance reviews and results, and allow employees flexibility. Of course, Google’s success as an organization speaks to the effectiveness of this method. Not to mention, Marissa Myer could certainly use the Work Life Balance Elephant Theory as basis for her controversial decision to set up a nursery in her office at Yahoo. In fact, would it be completely unrealistic to think that her setup may be the first step toward a more rational and realistic work life future for everyone? This is good food for thought for all, but especially for anyone in policy setting positions.

2)      Community is key to survival

If elephants could talk, they’d tell you that their herd is their lifeline. It takes a group to make it work. All of the elephants pitch in to forage and take care of the young (PBS). This unity enables safety in the wild and increased productivity. Sure, humans are different from elephants. But are humans different in their need for team work? Are the positive results of healthy community any different?

Crist SumanahThe irony here is that more and more organizations are recognizing the potential of team work and this concept is being applied to all areas of companies, except for

work life balance. What if Human Resources Departments and company executives began adopting workplace flexibility like Google, but they took an extra step to encourage buddy systems for parents on the job? This idea is to suggest that caregivers and parents within a department would be encouraged to connect. If one had a big presentation, but a family emergency erupted at the same time, one of their “buddy parents” would step into help. Would it really hurt anything if organizations had a play room available where employee’s kids could get together during office hours? This actually isn’t unheard of, but it certainly isn’t the norm.

And finally, what if kids were allowed to be in the office during working hours under certain circumstances or for small periods of time? Again, going back to elephant herds, the young learn from being with their parents on the job. This isn’t to say that all offices should have children in them all the time. But perhaps the Work Life Balance Elephant Theory would suggest that each workplace be open to these sorts of considerations when outlining their polices. Again, Google has proven the success of workplace flexibility. As cited in her TedX Talk, Princeton Professor, Anne-Marie Slaughter, points out a 2008 study that showed employees working a flexible work places are more engaged. She also explains that the majority of Fortune 500 companies are flexible with their employees, hence their bottom-line success.

Take it or leave it, but the Work Life Balance Elephant Theory presented above certainly offers food for thought. There are so many elaborate case studies and statistics that argue the importance of work life balance, but this theory also digs into the basics of science and human nature. Its high time society truly tackles the elephant in the room, which is the issue of work life balance and how it influences families and organizations.


Photo Credit: Sumanah

Related Reads:

The Circus Act
Hill County Farms Work Life Balance
Firms Help Women Strike Work Life Balance


Coming Up at Center for Work Life:

* Monthly Newsletter (Sign-Up to the right of this site)
* Emerging Leader Blog Series (Catch the next post Wednesday, April 2nd)
* How to Train Engagement through EI Quick Tips Video (Catch on Center for Work Life’s Youtube Channel)



This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal


Center for Work Life of Orlando, Florida is an award-winning executive development firm providing leadership and management training to executives and organizations. Our main services include executive coachingleadership developmentexecutive succession planningemotional intelligence trainingcareer planningstaff development, and communication in the workplace.


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