Pause Blog On Overload, Overwhelm & Life In General

Survey On Malaise

Asleep at The Wheel-wI know this invitation was included at the end of last week’s Pause blog post, but in case you might have missed it I want to make special mention of it in a separate post.

I’ve been doing some R & D  work on a particular aspect of engagement in work and life – the concept of malaise.

We’re all pretty familiar with stress and burnout – that dramatic stretched-to-the-limits, crash and burn phenomenon. Malaise is different.

Malaise is more like rusting out, feeling stale, bored, lethargic, restless, joyless or adrift – suffering the dis-ease of being under-challenged or feeling under-engaged. It can be every bit as challenging as burnout.

My interest was triggered by what I have been noticing in some individuals as they reach the latter part of their careers. Although I don’t think malaise is restricted to that stage of life, it does seem to be more prevalent there.

I’m interested in learning how we might avoid long stretches of malaise and move more quickly to light a spark and find a path through to a more joyful and enthusiastic experience of life and work.

To that end, I’ve done a number of interviews on this issue, and just last week I released a survey to start gathering more input.

Here is the link to the survey:   I would be delighted if you could take five to ten minutes to respond to the survey.

I’ll be collecting replies up until the end of April. if there are other people in your circle whom you think may have an interest in sharing their thoughts on the issue of malaise, please share the access link as freely as you wish.

Although I haven’t reviewed all the 300 responses submitted so far, some of the early comments are showing that people are finding the questions intriguing and very helpful in guiding them to think about their own experiences with malaise in their lives and organizations.

I’ll keep in touch, and share more on this subject as my work unfolds.

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Wellness

This post was written by Pat Katz on April 21, 2015

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PAUSE – 15.11- Can You See It Now?



My Thoughts:

Kazantzakis suggests we already have at hand what we need to create a more ideal future.

Could it be that our own lack of vision or lack of action are all that may be holding us back?


Your Thoughts:

What’s your vision of Paradise? What’s already at hand that could move you in that direction?

What’s your next step? And, when will you take it?


News Notes:

Uninspired. Unsettled. Uneasy. Lifeless. Restless. Joyless. Stuck. Have you been there?

I’m talking about malaise – that generalized feeling of being ‘out of sorts’. It grinds away and wears us down, robbing our lives of spirit, energy and joy.

As I mentioned in last week’s Pause, I’m doing some writing and programming on the subject of malaise.

Experience tells me that the more deeply I understand a phenomenon, the stronger my work, and the more helpful it will be to others.

To that end, I’m inviting you to weigh in with your thoughts and experiences. This link will take you to an online Survey on Malaise that will take 5-10 minutes to complete.

I’m most grateful for your help. A thousand thanks for sharing your insights and wisdom.

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Pause Poster Message, Wellness

PAUSE – 15.10 – How Do You Know What’s Right For You?

Goldilocks 3 bears-wReflection: I expect you’re familiar with the story of Goldilocks.

You’ll recall Goldilocks entered the house of the three bears and set about finding what was right for her. Porridge: too hot, too cold, or just right. Chair: too big, too small, or just right. Bed: too hard, too soft, or just right.

Goldilocks’ search for the right fit makes her an interesting role model for balance (break and enter aside).

We’re all familiar with the ’too hot, too big, too hard’ side of this equation. That’s the world of overload and burnout where we find ourselves on fire, racing at top speed, flat out, overcommitted and overwhelmed.

We may be highly engaged, but we’re just as likely to be exhausted. Things are just not right. This overextended phenomenon of ‘too-much-ness’ gets a lot of attention.

From time to time, many of us also experience the ‘too cold, too small, too soft’ scenario. This is where we’ve outgrown one or more elements of our lives and our everyday patterns no longer fit as well as they once did.

We may feel restless, pinched, diminished, bored, joyless or adrift, suffering the dis-ease of finding ourselves under-challenged or under-engaged. Things are just not right. This malaise phenomenon gets much less attention even though it, too, causes distress.


Action: I’ve experienced malaise myself, more than once in my life. At those points, it’s not that things are all wrong, it’s more like they’re not all right any more.

It was a recent round of malaise that first pointed me in the direction of painting – as a way to light a spark in the areas of learning and creative expression. And, boy did it ever do that for me!

Rest easy! I’m not advocating painting as a panacea for everyone. But, I can suggest an approach that might help you find your way to a better place – or help you guide others who may find themselves stuck. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 15.09 – Create New Ways To Carry On

Pick Yourself Up Orange-w


My Thoughts:

I love this image, because it’s so unexpected – just like many of life’s events that trip us up and bring us to our knees.

And, I love this image, because it’s so creative – just like some of the best reactions to challenging situations.


Your Thoughts:

How about bringing a little extra-orang-inary thinking to your world this week?

What’s been tripping you up lately?

And, what creative responses might help you pick yourself up and carry on?


News Notes:

The warmest of thanks to all of you who took part in the Pause Subscriber Challenge. I so appreciate your taking time to extend a special subscription invitation to your friends and colleagues.

From last year’s Pause readership survey, I learned that – next to having heard me speak at a conference or seminar – the most frequent way that people come to join our jolly band of readers is through an invitation and recommendation from a family member, friend, or colleague.

That’s the power of ‘word of mouth’. So thanks for valuing and speaking kindly of my work. Do keep forwarding the messages that resonate most to others who may appreciate them, too.

As promised, I’ve drawn a name from the list of those of you who let me know you invited others to subscribe in these last two weeks of March. A bundle of Pause goodies will soon be on its way to Tara Zrymiak, an engineer with SNC-Lavalin Inc.


Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Pause Poster Message, Wellness

PAUSE – 15.08 – Could You Use More Breathing Space?

Broadway Roastery

Broadway Roastery

Reflection: It never seems to go away. This idea that our lives are so much better when we jam twice as many tasks into every minute and hour of the day.

Just last week, an article in the Globe and Mail proposed saving up to 20 hours a week by doubletasking instead of multitasking. Isn’t double is just a subset of multi?

The suggestions in the article? Catch up on email or social media while you watch TV or a movie. Study while you shave or shower. Listen to a podcast or watch a video while you exercise.

I must admit I’ve experimented with these combos myself. Just last month I took myself and a podcast for a walk along the river. I soon discovered that as soon as I tuned in the audio, I tuned out myself, nature, and the world around me. Instead of returning from the walk refreshed and relaxed, I had simply gone through the motions while someone else’s words rolled through my brain. The net result: a distracted splintered experience.

Here’s what we miss when we take this doubleheader multitasking approach. Breathing space, for one. Connection, for two. Creativity, for three.

One of the reasons we have original thoughts in the shower, for instance, is precisely because we’re not driving the ‘must think up something new’ bus while we’re cleaning up. We just engage in one task, the mind wanders at will, and surprises us – or rewards us – with original thought! That’s something that can’t be forced, but can be encouraged when we leave space for it in our lives.


Action: Yes, there are times when we can do more than two things at the same time. But let’s resist giving ourselves or others carte blanche to cram an unlimited number of activities into our already crowded days.

Be vigilant and thoughtful about your choice of combos, And know for sure that breathing space is a legitimate partner for many of your actions. Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 15.06 – Cool Down To Calm Down

Yikes-wReflection: In a recent Pause message, Could You Be A More Reassuring Presence, I shared a few ideas for supporting others when things go sideways in their lives.

But what if it’s an event in your own life that’s giving you grief? How can you avoid getting unnecessarily bent out of shape when life sends a mind-bending challenge your way? How do you handle your own reactions when things go wrong?


Action: Here’s a five-step approach to bring relief and help you find your way back to a more even keel. Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 15.05 – What’s Waiting For You?

Goodbye Hello-300w


My Thoughts: This week I’m saying goodbye to the self-created expectation (and 14 year practice) of publishing a ‘full featured’ Pause message every single week.

Every second week, I’ll be alternating the traditional version with a simpler more visual message like this. Makes me wonder what’s around the corner waiting to greet me.


Your Thoughts:

What do you think about Coelho’s observation?

To what might you be ready to say goodbye? 

What might be lingering around the corner waiting for you to make more space for it in your life?


News Notes: I’ve had a couple of clients ask me recently, “Pat, with all the traveling and painting that you are doing these days, are you still speaking?” Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Life in General, Pause E-zines, Pause Poster Message

PAUSE – 15.03– Could You Be A More Reassuring Presence?

Sails At Sea-wReflection: Skinned knees, broken hearts, failing health, cancelled projects, empty coffers. It’s always something, and in this world of ours there’s no shortage of ‘somethings’. So, how to help?

A toddler who falls and scrapes his knee needs a band-aid and a hug, and our reassurance that things are going to be all right.

A friend who is reeling from a challenging health diagnosis needs us to hold steady in the moment of crisis, acknowledge the fear and uncertainty, and reassure her that we’re there for the long haul.

In the face of excessive loads, overwhelm and setbacks, our colleagues at work need reassurance, too – just not in a hug and band-aid sort of way.

They need us to acknowledge their distress and express confidence that somehow we’ll get through this together – that we’ll be all right.

All right doesn’t mean perfect or stress-free. The present may well be painful, the road forward rocky, and the outcome less than ideal. All right means that we trust we’ll have the resilience to make it through, and the strength to deal with whatever comes up.

The most helpful form of reassurance is far more than a blithe and condescending: “There there, you poor thing. It’ll all be better soon.” Instead, it comes from a deep sense of presence, a genuine feeling of care and understanding, and compassionate expression.


Action: There are many ways to be a more reassuring presence in the lives of others at work and at home. Here are four to get you started: Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.40 – Contentment Is Highly Underrated

Santa Sleigh Cropped600-withsig-wReflection: I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment. You may recall that I first wrote about this concept back in September, in a Pause message titled How do YOU Cultivate Contentment.

What is it? Mainly a state of satisfaction, an ease of being, a peace of mind. That makes contentment the antithesis of envy, striving and anxiety. It’s a state of mind in which we find a way to be at ease and at peace – perhaps even happy – with our lot in life at the moment. It’s an inward disposition – a mindset – and it’s not a choice that someone else can make for us.

In a world of overwhelm and overload, contentment is an oasis, an island of tranquility. While the feeling may or may not last long, in the moment it soothes, uplifts, and brings us joy.

You’ve probably seen contentment in the sleepy milk fed expression of a baby nodding off to dreamland. You’ve maybe seen contentment writ large across the faces of doting elders in the presence of their grand and great grandchildren.

It seems that those of us in the busy years between new life and nearer death lose touch with both the idea and experience of contentment.

My wish for you as this year winds to a close, is that you find ways to tap into contentment – wherever you are and whatever your state. It ‘s not necessary for all to be perfect, done, or as we might wish it to be. Simply appreciate who you are and what you have in the moment, and know that a sense of wonder and a spirit of gratitude are afoot.

As the new year approaches, with its new resolutions and fresh intentions, consider adding cultivating contentment to your list of goals, and see how it enriches your world.

I’ve been collecting thoughts and quotes on contentment to share with you as a way of closing out 2014. I hope you enjoy reading and reflecting on these thoughts.

May you welcome contentment into your world with open arms. Blessings to you all.



Thoughts On Contentment: Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.39 – What Are You Waiting For?

Airplane crtoon-wReflection: As we lift off the runway on the flight home from Toronto to Saskatoon, something seems wrong. On our ascent, we level out too quickly, even drop a bit in elevation, and the sounds are off.

Within five minutes of take-off, the pilot announces a malfunction with the nose gear on the plane. It appears to be locked in the down position and refuses to retract. (Better that than the other way around!) He intends to return to Toronto after calculating how much fuel we need to burn off before it’s safe to land.

A half hour later we learn we will be working off another 45 minutes of fuel. In total, we spend an hour and a half zigging, zagging, and circling the skies over southern Ontario.

It’s an interesting experience to find yourself in a situation totally out of your control where your next 90 minutes may or may not be your last. What would you do in that place with that time?

I thought about it, and rejected the idea of reading the newspaper, watching a movie, or going over my notes from my conference. Those activities all seemed a bit pointless – distractions at best. I thought briefly about writing a note to those I love. But that seemed a tad melodramatic.

And so, I simply thought about my recent connections with those who are dear to me. I’d spoken with my husband by phone each of the days I’d been away. I’d visited with my folks the day before I’d headed east. I’d spent the previous weekend with daughter number one and her family in Calgary. I’d traded phone calls and messages making a plan to meet for lunch with daughter number two.

I’d connected with all five of my sisters as we worked through plans for Christmas dinner. I’d shared laughs and great conversations with my friends and business colleagues at the conference. I’d recently spent an afternoon with a group of women friends who meet two or three times a year. I’d posted encouraging comments on the Facebook posts of several dear friends. I’d spoken with the neighbors making a plan for a get together first thing in the new year.

Sure, there were plenty of loose ends and things undone that also flashed through my mind. I could easily have created a long list of tasks awaiting attention – programs to plan, gifts to buy, books to sell, and art to make. But, somehow that all seemed secondary and nowhere near as important as whether or not I was current with the key people in my world. Had the most important words been said and deepest feelings shared?  Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Life in General, Pause E-zines, Travel