Tag Archives: burnout

Where is your attention?

harmony

by Reino Gevers

When you practise the martial art of “taiji push hands” you instantly become aware when your mind is wandering elsewhere. As soon as your attention slips your opponent has easy play in finding the gap and pushing you over. Its all about:

Where your attention goes your energy goes.

In our connected world the power of distraction lurks everywhere. Our mind becomes like a butterfly constantly fluttering from one short attention span to the next. We search for something on google and suddenly a pop-up diverts our attention elsewhere and before we know it, we have spent hours surfing meaninglessly on the Internet.

Mass media is brainwashing us 24-7 with drama and catastrophes. The objective is to shock and awe. The result: more clicks, more viewers, a higher circulation and more advertising revenue. Good news is no news. I know what I’m talking about because I worked in the news industry for more than 26 years. Don’t get me wrong. Its not about sticking your head in the sand and avoiding the world’s problems. Its the dosage of negativity in relation to positivity.

Human nature has a habit of looking first on what is bad than on what is wonderful and on what we can be grateful for in our lives. If your mind is filled with thoughts on wars, riots, crime, the antics of the rich and famous and all the other shadow sides of humanity your subconscious mind will begin to confirm all this as the reality of existence. The end result is often depression and a sense of hopelessness. Moreover, negativity hurts us on the physical level, weakening our immune system and causing many of our modern day plagues such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The truth is that we live in a world of polarity – of yin and yang. For every bad event being flashed across the globe you can be sure there is another positive thing happening at the same time. Its just not receiving our attention. There is so much distraction, brainwashing and mind control from external forces that we spend less and less time in reflecting on what is happening to us. The end result is living a life behind a veil of negativity and emptyness.

You have the power! Draw your boundary on what you want inside your “room” and what needs to stay out:

  • By anchoring yourself with meditation you are extracting yourself from distraction. Meditation is a powerful tool in helping you perceive that inner voice that keeps you connected to your Soul Path.
  • As you meditate you will observe your thoughts. Are they mostly of a positive or negative nature?
  • Are the people you surround yourself with kind and compassionate? Do they exude positive vibes or are they abusing you as a refuse bucket in venting all their anger and frustration? Remember you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with.
  • How much time are you spending in nature? Are you exercising enough? Taking a walk in nature, doing yoga or taiji,  will hugely improve your mood and help you realign.
  • Are you nourishing your body and mind with healthy foods and liquids?

In training your awareness by doing the right things every day, of every week of every month and of every year you will be aligned and become immune to energy-sucking distractions.

By Reino Gevers – Health Mentor for Leaders and Achievers

http://www.reinogevers.com

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Filed under body arts, corporate health, exercise mental health, lifestyle management, mass media, mental-health, outdoor coaching, psychology, spirituality, Uncategorized, yin and yang

Why you need to take a break

IMG_1197With work pressure increasing in practically all sectors its not uncommen for people to remain stuck at their desk for hours and taking their “lunch” while tapping away at the computer or taking a call. On the long term this is wreaking havoc on concentration levels, health and productivity.

Under stress your sympathetic nervous system is on alert flooding your body with stress hormones that accelerate your heart beat, increase your blood pressure, dilate your pupils and inhibit other body functions like your digestion. At some stage however the calming side of your body, the parasympathetic nervous system, will want to reduce the arousal system, bringing everything back into balance and tiredness creeping in. Its a natural body reaction that you can’t control.

We need a good balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system – between the arousal and recuperation phases.

Research has indicated that most concentration levels start sinking rapidly after about 50 minutes of uninterrupted work on a computer. At the latest after 70 minutes your parasympathetic nervous system will start taking over. This is the time to take a short 5-10 minute break. And a break is only really a break if you interrupt your work and do something completely different, like opening a window, taking a deep breath, looking at the bird in the tree across the road or chatting to a colleague.

If you have an office job you will have spent some 80,000 hours of your lifetime in a sitting position until you reach retirement age. This is an enormous strain on your back, neck, skeletal and body alignment system. Interrupting your work for 15-20 minutes a day to do some active stretching movements, will work wonders for your health, your mood and your concentration and work ability.

Pushing your break of say half an hour until the end of the work day practically has no recuperation effect. Regular shorter breaks after every hour are far more effective. Taking a power nap of between 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon works very well for some people. It should however not be longer as you then fall into the deep-sleep mode and will wake up more fatigued.

If you have had days, weeks or months of high stress, your body will very likely have high cortisol levels. It means vital organs in your body are being undernourished because your body is in a “fight or flight” mode. You need recuperation, a time out, to bring those stress hormones back to normal. Best you choose a place where you can lock away your cell phone and focus your mind on anything else but work. Check out also our outdoor coaching programmes.

Reino Gevers, coach, trainer, author

PowerBodyMind – Gevers Consulting

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

 

 

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Filed under blood pressure, corporate health, cortisol, exercise mental health, healing nature, lifestyle management, meditation, outdoor coaching, psychology, stress hormones, Uncategorized, work environment

Reconnecting with nature – 8 point health plan

IMG_2264Constant emotional stress is extremely harmful, especially over an extended period of time. The result: Our body is on permanent alert  with many body functions more or less in standby-mode.

We are naturally programmed to react to perceived dangerous situations with our bodies being put on alert by such hormones as adrenaline and cortisol that increase heartbeat  and blood pressure, in turn triggering flight or fight responses.

When the threat has passed these stress hormones are supposed to return to normal levels so that all body organs can resume their normal functions.  In our modern world that is often not the case because we are not taking time-out for exercise, good nutrition, breaks etc. An over-exposure to the main stress hormone cortisol can lead to a host of health problems including high blood pressure, the risk of heart attack, an immune-system breakdown, anxiety, mood changes and weight gain. An excellent way of getting those cortisol levels down is by taking a time-out in nature.

We come from and are part of nature. Living in cramped, noisy and stressful big city environments is only a recent phenomenon in human evolution. Re-atuning our senses of hearing, smell and touch by taking a walk in a park or forest can be of enormous benefit in winding down from the onslaught of external stressors.

Take a real break by leaving the office desk and taking a 15-20 minute walk. Awaken your senses to the sounds of nature. You can stop by giving all your attention to just one pleasant sound of nature: a bird singing, the rushing of a stream or fountain. Try and inhale the smell of a blooming flower or wild herbs next to a path. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin or a gust of cool air.

The benefit of all this: Our immediate environment is responsible for stress increase or reduction. It influences our immune, endocrine and nervous systems. Numerous research concludes that positive nature experience reduces anxiety, fear, lowers blood pressure and has a positive influence on the heart beat and muscle pressure and especially helps to bring down those cortisol levels.

Reino Gevers – consultant, coach, author

http://www.powerbodymind.de

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Employee vitality – the human factor

Happiness and joy. Young happy female

Its a common fallacy that technology alone and the cost factor are key ingredients on the global corporate playing field. Yet when looking at highly successful companies its the vitality and positive-mindset of its people who have that slight but crucial edge.

These are the corporates with a high stress resilience in rough times, open to innovation and change and who go into positive resonance with clients.

The mindset of key players in a company is crucial. This means having a permanent learning culture of self-development, reflection and positive feedback. Investment in the well-being of employees makes itself paid on all levels.

As the lines between work, family and leisure time become increasingly blurred in the digital world of today, it is all the more necessary to keep in mind essential human needs. We are social animals who feel a great need to interconnect positively with those immediately around us. It gives us a feeling of safety and security because humans have depended on each other for survival since the earliest of times.

Old style management that leads with fear and intimidation creates an environment that stifles all form of healthy human communication, inevitably stirring basic human survival instincts that lead to mobbing, burnout and other psychological fallouts. On the long-run companies that rule by fear are doomed.

A healthy work environment has room for recuperation phases and encourages them. There needs to be a healthy cycle between intensive work sessions, times of stress and rest periods. Its old school thinking not to include private issues at the work place. Immediate colleagues are often the first support network we fall back on when we have tough times at home. So how do you create a healthy corporate culture?

  • Its a long-term learning process. Supervisors and managers need  to keep their ears close to the ground in addressing the needs of their employees. Listening is one of the most important yet least found ingredients among leaders.
  • Self-development, team training and investment in soft-skills training is a crucial element.
  • Self-responsibility on personal health, nutrition, recuperation and lifestyle management can be actively nurtured in a learning environment.
  • Creating a culture of mindfulness and attentiveness is a high ideal but can be learned and creates a highly positive resonance with clients. We are after all dealing with humans.

We spend most of our lives at the workplace and it is sad to see that so little effort is being made in investing in the “human factor”. Do we live to work or work to live?  To quote Studs Terkel:

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

Reino Gevers – coach, author, trainer

http://www.reinogevers.com

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Filed under corporate health, Job satisfaction, lifestyle management, Uncategorized, work environment, work purpose

Back from the Camino – what now?

Its been some weeks since we returned from our hike on the Spanish Camino and I’m still astounded at how much the experience still resonates in our lives.

We have just heard from Jim who walked the entire Camino Frances from Jean Pied de Port, arriving in Santiago last week after 40 days of walking.

The many interesting and fascinating people you meet on the Camino is part of part of what I would describe as one of the most precious gifts of the Camino. This is why many Peregrinos decide to give something back in volunteering to work a summer in one of the pilgrims’ hostels.

Many people walk the Camino to find an answer to a life-important question they are dealing with. Mostly they find the answer, sometimes after weeks or months after the walk, with the answer to a question needing time to ripen.

On my first Camino I was somewhat disappointed at not having found “my answer”. The lesson to learn was patience and to open the mind to the so many of the mysteries and lessons of the Path.

The first lesson I learned was that it needs time to “walk things off” and get rid of the old emotional baggage that you often carry with you for years. My theory is that the body has an “emotional memory” just like the emotional mind in holding onto “traumatic” experiences on a cellular level. This is why the first days of walking are so hard, even for people who have prepared well physically.

When this “emotional garbage” comes to the surface on the “path of crucifixion” that often comes during the first week of arduous walking through blisters, sore knees and back pain, the transformation process can begin. Then walking, even through difficult terrain, becomes an easy ride and you can actually start enjoying daily walks of 25-30 kilometres and more.

There were so many images, smells and meetings of mind on this centuries old path that this space is too short to fill them.

There was the father walking the path with two mules in fulfilling a dream that his daughter had on her death bed when dying of cancer. There are the brave young folk in the Aragon province fighting a dam project that will flood a pristine valley and one of the oldest parts of the Camino. There are the faces of people you look at where you know they have just gone through a very hard time in their lives and that they have come through, stronger.

On a physical level, I feel much fitter. My skin seems smoother and my senses of smell and hearing different. In my dreams I am still walking and when I wake up I know that I will soon be making plans for the next walk on the Camino.

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Reconnecting to the web of life

Humanity’s disconnect to the web of life, the lack of respect and awareness for the many parts of the bigger whole, has got us into a pretty dire predicament.

Some theorists would argue that man is a predator by nature and that it is all about the survival of the fittest, falsely quoting Darwin who was in reality very much aware of the intricate inter-connection of all living things.

Any species which fails to find its niche in the web of life becomes extinct because the earth or “creation intelligence” always finds a means of discarding that which becomes a threat to everything else. It is something you become acutely aware of by spending alone time in nature or in the wilds.

I’ve had some of my deepest spiritual experiences while hiking alone in the Pyrenees mountains, the Spanish Camino and the African bush where simply by observation you begin to realize that every plant, beetle, bird, antelope or predator is there for a reason and plays its small part in sustaining life as a whole.

Lichtblick

My theory is that humanity’s disconnect from the web of life is partly the result of alienation from nature and the “materialist-theoretical” approach to religion rather than intuitive spirituality that our forebears practised in the mystic traditions.

As hundreds of millions of people continue to move to urban areas there is a real danger that the alienation from our true destiny will continue. A growing number of people in the wealthier countries are living alone in apartments and getting lonelier and lonelier as they grow older and their already fragile support network of friends starts falling away.

In my previous blog I mentioned how much we are influenced and shaped by the people around us. Our health, our happiness and our lifespan depend on how well we are accepted, integrated and valued in that community we cherish. Loneliness is perceived as physical pain and is responsible for many psychological disorders. Read this interesting report on what people in Sardinia seem to be getting just right and why many of them stay healthy well over the age of a 100.

The biggest challenge faced by humanity is to rediscover that bond to the web of life and to make the switch from predator to custodian, protector and nurturer. Here are just some ways of reconnecting:

  • Sitting meditation with emphasis on the natural breathing sequence of inhaling and exhaling
  • Walking “things off” and reconnecting with your natural rhythm on a longer hike, preferably for several days. Its a wonderful way of detoxing your mind and body.
  • Any of the body arts such as yoga, taiji and qi gong have been practised and perfected over many generations as a way of reconnecting with your mind and body.
  • When outdoors in nature find just one sound to concentrate your mind on. It could be a bird chirping or the wind blowing through the trees. You will feel very relaxed after only a few minutes.

I had an amazing experience on one of my walks when I connected to a blackbird singing in a tree nearby. It responded by following me for several kilometres, hopping from tree to tree and on the track ahead. It was an amazing experience of connection.

Info:

Why face-to-face contact matters in a digital world

Yield and Overcome – How change can positively impact our lives

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Boosting your energy and life vision with a liver-detox

In my previous blog I mentioned that a healthy liver is perhaps the most  crucial organ in keeping our body and soul healthy and in sync. After sumptuous meals and drinks over the festivities the New Year is a good time to think about detoxing your liver.

There are several natural and wonderful ways of doing this. It takes about two years for the cells in the liver to completely renew themselves. A healthy liver gets rid of all those toxins in the body, boosting your energy and quality of life on many levels.

Lets look at the foods you are eating. Start by reducing your intake of processed foods, carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol. Some of the super foods that will naturally cleanse your liver are:

carrots, olive oil, avocados, garlic, green tea, leafy green vegetables like spinach, artichoke, asparagus, kale, and brussel sprouts.

Fresh carrot juice with a shot of good flaxseed or olive oil and a teaspoon of Chia seed will work wonders.

You could also try the juice of half a lemon in a hot cup of water first thing in the morning. The sourness of lemons triggers nerve and hormone activation to the liver and digestive system. In general you should drink good water throughout the day as this cleanses both the liver and body. It also reduces the risk of gallstones, which results when bile becomes too concentrated in the gall bladder.

Molasses is not everyone’s cup of tea as the taste is bitter and takes some getting used to. But try this recipe over ten days:

Two tablespoons of lemon juice, one tablespoon of molasses, one tablespoon of virgin olive oil, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a cup of warm water.

From a physical aspect all the martial arts such as Judo, Karate, the Tai Chi Quick Fist, Push-Hands or Sword Form are excellent in stimulating your liver energy and getting rid of suppressed anger.

On the mental level an imbalanced liver is very often related to cynicism, anger, irritability and excessive irony. Am I having difficulty in coping with losses, disappointments and shattered dreams? Is it not time to renew my visions, my dreams and what I really want from life?

Road on the sky

Here is an exercise that might help you. Take at least a 15-minute breaks once a day to do the following. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for at least a count of up to 21. Then visualise how you would like your ideal life to be like without any restrictions or boundaries. What job would I like to have? What house do I ideally want to live in? What is my ideal of a happy relationship, friendships and social life? Don’t get disturbed by curve balls like self-pity, negative thoughts and emotions.

Every thought can become reality but you need to give it thought and time to take root and flourish.

It gets more energy if you write it down in every detail and use as many pictures and images as possible.

A really good time for such a future vision is right now and in the months just before the first signs of spring.

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Keeping the “general” in your body happy

liver_energyA healthy liver is not only crucial in detoxing our body and staying fit and healthy, it influences strongly our mood, enthusiasm and the joyfulness of being in there here-and-now.

In Chinese medicine the liver is often compared to the strategic general at the head of an army, utilising the power of body and mind to keep us in a state of equilibrium.

The liver is an amazing organ, dealing with hundreds of tasks and working overtime in dealing with carcinogenic materials and other toxins that bombard the body. One of its primary functions is the storage of blood and regulating the flow of blood to the circulatory system in accordance with our physical activities. When the body is resting the blood is kept in “storage” for the next phase of activity.

In addition the liver controls the activity of muscles, tendons and bands, ensuring a smooth interaction of joint and muscle movement. When we speak of a low level of “liver blood” in the body this is reflected on tendons becoming stiff and inflexible, causing stiff body movement and joint pains. We literally can’t move to do the things we want to do.

But there is much more that comes to play on an emotional and psychological level. In my book Yield and Overcome I go into more detail on how the body organs are related to elements and cyclical seasonal influences. On a subtle level the liver is home to the ethereal soul, that continues to exist after death. It is about transmuting the challenges we are faced with in this world and following our true calling or soul path. As we grow spiritually we bring a little of “heaven to earth”.

When the ethereal soul becomes separated from its “physical home” it loses connection to its true destiny and meaning in life. We lose sense of direction and being in the here and now. When plans and visions start failing or when we are forced to do things we find to be meaningless, we either start feeling depressed, listless and low on energy or have bouts of anger and resentment. We blow our lid at the smallest irritation.

When we see a person following his or her calling watch the glow and enthusiasm in their eyes. The liver expresses itself in the eyes. In the same way a diseased liver or one that is out of balance will show in the “grey” of the “living dead”.

The good news is that the liver has an enormous capacity to regenerate itself. Dr. Max Gerson, MD ( 1881-1959) assumed it would take 12 to 15 generations of new cells to form a totally new and healthy liver. He specified a period of about 18 months to fully heal and restore the liver of advanced cancer patients. However experts believe that the amount of toxins the human body has to cope with today will require a longer period of two years or more.

So in our modern world the liver energy is confronted with on the one hand the many distractions on a mental plane while at the same time having to deal with major challenges on a physical level.

Some questions that arise in connection with the liver energy are:

  • How do I feel when I get up in the morning? Am I joyful or depressed?
  • Have I found my place in the bigger picture of things?
  • Do I really enjoy my work?
  • Where do I really feel at home?
  • Where is my energy or enthusiasm blocked?
  • Am I feeling constantly tired and listless?
  • Do I have a problem with anger management?

Apart from liver-cleansing nutrition there are various good methods of bringing your liver energy back into flow, but more on that in my next blog

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Alarming rate of high-professionals addicted to substance abuse

substance abuse

An alarming rate of doctors, lawyers, bankers, film stars and other high professionals seem to be functioning only by substance and alcohol abuse. While alcohol is the more common, there seems to be a large group of people addicted to substances available at the chemist around the corner or by mail order through the internet.

Most of these substances give a short-term energy boost but cause havoc with your health on the long-term and could even shorten your life.

Lately, I have come across several people in high-powered jobs admitting to taking a sleeping pill every night. The short-term effect is a good nights rest, especially if you have to be alert the next day and have to take important boardroom decisions. But it is important to understand the long-term health effects of these sedatives which are potentially addictive.

Several long-term studies have been conducted on the effects of sleeping pills. One of them is by Daniel F. Kripke. M.D. (The Dark Side of Sleepinig Pills) also available as an eBook.

Kripke refers to the life-shortening effects of common sleeping pills such as zolpidem (e.g., Ambien), temazepam (e.g., Restoril), eszopiclone (e.g., Lunesta), zaleplon (e.g., Sonata), other benzodiazepines such as triazolam (e.g., Halcion) and flurazepam (e.g., Dalmane), barbiturates, and sedative antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl).

A whole industry is thriving on the mass consumption of energy pills, caffeine boosters and other chemical cocktails as a growing number of high-professionals and executives resort to such short-term relief to overcome chronic fatigue. The manufacturers claim that their energy boosters are non-addictive and safe but the truth is quite the opposite.

Most of these supplements provide short-term relief with an energy-high. Eventually, the effects wear off, often resulting what is called a “crash.” with individuals experiencing even more exhaustion, negative mood swings, lack of concentration, irrational decision-making, depression or a chronic headache. The cycles between the “high” and the “crash” become shorter and shorter.

Many energy supplements have been found to speed up the metabolism and to influence the production of adrenaline in the body, which might already be at a high level because of stress. Long-term effects are high blood pressure with the added risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Some experts even claim that the banking crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of the many bankers in the City of London addicted to cocaine.

In our consumerist world our mindset is to want a quick-fix if something goes wrong with the body or mind. Dysfunctional lifestyles inevitably lead to a physical and mental “crash”. Most of our modern diseases and mental health problems are caused by lack of exercise, poor nutrition and high emotional stress levels.

It is possible to lead a highly successful and healthy life by investing just a little time and energy in your own health. Have a look at my blogs on the best weapons against stress and the 7 simple ways of boosting your energy levels by safe and natural means.

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How happy are you in your job?

Some time ago an employee of Burger King in Ohio, U.S., posted a picture of himself on the net stomping with his shoes on lettuce, adding the words:This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King”. 

The employee was tracked down and fired but the harm had been done. Burger King probably lost a fortune in lost customers as a result. It is an extreme case but it demonstrates what harm dissatisfied employees can do to a company.

A recent survey conducted by Gallup in Germany revealed that 67 per cent of employees in the country were just doing the minimum amount of work required, which means that most of them are present at the workplace but not really much more. Only 16 per cent felt they could identify with their company and its goals.

You could argue that they are a pretty thankless lot bearing in mind that many southern Europeans are without a job. However it reveals a deeper problem and doesn’t only affect the employee at Burger King.

Clergymen, self-employed medical doctors and social workers are among the professionals most affected by burnout. The place where we spend most of our “life-time” is supposed to provide the money we need for a living, give us the feeling that we are doing something meaningful and make us happy.

But a job we once chose out of passion and idealism may have changed so dramatically that we fail to realise that it no longer conforms to our inner value system.

The inner stress of spending much of your “life-time” doing something you no longer enjoy doing is going to make you ill on the long run. I started my career in journalism in the late 1970s in South Africa. I spent much of my day in court rooms, fire stations, at crime scenes or at social or political events. Gradually I built up a network of people (“sources”) who gladly passed on information about some local scandal or event. Most of the day was spent inter-acting with people. Most newspapermen from the English language press in South Africa at the time were highly critical of the apartheid government. Within the limitations of press restrictions there was much reporting on the human rights abuses. Most of all we had the feeling that we were doing something meaningful to make our world a better place. These early years in journalism were enormously fulfilling. Its a far cry from what it is today. The media industry has been hit by massive staff cutbacks and drop in revenue. I left my job with a news agency in frustration faced by the prospect of spending most of my day in front of a computer screen regurgitating news from other media sources in a newsroom with several hundred other – “mostly frustrated” – people.

I’ve heard some real horror stories from medical doctors. Hospital and health care structures have become so dysfunctional that doctors and nurses have very little time, if at all, to actually hear out the needs of patients. Instead of “helping people” social workers and church pastors are caught in the tentacles of bureaucracy.

So every now and then it might be worth spending some “life-time” minutes to reflect on whether I still enjoy doing the job I’m doing:

Image

  • Am I happy getting up in the morning to go to work?
  • Does my job provide room for expression and freedom to use all my talents?
  • Am I exhausted after getting home from work or do I still have enough energy to visit friends and family?
  • Do I have to keep on motivating myself month after month, year after year that I’m in the right job doing the right thing?
  • Do I view my workplace mainly negatively and am I surrounded by cynical or negative colleagues?
  • What were the decisive factors that made me choose a specific career? Do these factors still apply today?

Once you reach the stage where you start counting the months and years to retirement you need to seriously ask yourself whether you want to spend precious “life-time” at the place where you’re currently at. Life has so many choices and possibilities. You would not one day want to be sitting in a rocking chair in an old age home full of regrets, mulling over the question:

Why did I not make that change which would have given my life a completely new direction.”

Book: Yield and Overcome: How change can positively impact our lives

 

 

 

 

 

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