Empowering Exercises

What are your Personal Core Values?

What are your Personal Core Values? 150 150 Manolis Stratakis

What is the difference between our principles and our values?


Our principles have been pushed to us by others, from the outside world. They have been taught to us. They help us to conform to the norms of society.

Values ​​come from within us. They are all those things we consider important. Our values highlight what we stand for and ​​guide us in life, especially in difficult times. Our values largely determine our behaviors, decisions, and actions.

When our plain logic does not seem enough to help us make critical decisions, then we mobilize our “heart”. The heart always functions based on our values. When our decisions or activities are in line with our values, then an internal motivation is created and everything proceeds with ease and pleasure. We are fulfilled.

However, when we are forced to deal with something that conflicts with our values, we get a feeling that something is wrong, or we have negative emotions such as a sense of internal tension, anxiety or guilt which bring procrastination and other negative behaviors.

Below is a list of some of the most important human values. Think carefully and note which ones suit best to you. Finally, prioritize your own personal values. Of course you can always add one you might not see in the list.


Recognition by others
Avoid pressure – conflict
Self confidence
Action and variety
Ability to express
Free time
Development, growth
Spiritual stimuli
Offer to others
Risk taking
Continuous learning


My ten most important personal values (try to list them in order of importance to you):



How emotionally intelligent are you?

How emotionally intelligent are you? 1587 1116 Manolis Stratakis

Emotional Intelligence

According to the latest studies (mainly through the work of Daniel Goleman), the – until recently underrated – Emotional Intelligence (EQ) contributes an 80% to success in life, while IQ supplies the rest 20%. On top of that, although none of them is considered fixed and permanent, Emotional Intelligence is the one with greater margins for development and growth. Let’s check the degree of our own EQ and see how we can improve it!

Below you will find a checklist with the most important characteristics of High Emotional Intelligence. Check which of those you possess and mark them from 1-10, with as much accuracy as possible.

  1. [    ] ​Self-control and self-discipline
  2. [    ] Impulse control
  3. [    ] Openness, adaptation and embracing change
  4. [    ] Ability to perform under conditions of pressure
  5. [    ] Good understanding of our own emotions
  6. [    ] Good understanding of the emotions of others
  7. [    ] Awareness of our strengths and weaknesses
  8. [    ] Optimism
  9. [    ] Self-confidence
  10. [    ] Good communication skills
  11. [    ] Acceptance of criticism by other people
  12. [    ] Ability to disagree without causing tension
  13. [    ] Ability to offer constructive criticism
  14. [    ] Initiative taking
  15. [    ] Cultivating trust in relationships
  16. [    ] Ability to self-motivate in order to reach our goals
  17. [    ] Ability to lead and influence
  18. [    ] Resistance to prejudice
  19. [    ] Decisiveness
  20. [    ] Persuasion
  21. [    ] Patience
  22. [    ] Persistence
  23. [    ] Curiosity
  24. [    ] Ability to inspire others
  25. [    ] Cooperate without competing
  26. [    ] Ability to teamwork
  27. [    ] Maintaining control in crisis situations
  28. [    ] Control impatience
  29. [    ] Ability to focus
  30. [    ] Acceptance of defeat and failure
  31. [    ] Ability to listen before talking
  32. [    ] Acceptance of our weaknesses
  33. [    ] Personal and work ethics
  34. [    ] Ability to neutralize toxic people
  35. [    ] Giving without expecting
  36. [    ] Knowing when and feeling comfortable saying no
  37. [    ] Ability to slow down, disconnect and relax
  38. [    ] Ability of quick recovery after a mistake or failure
  39. [    ] Robust emotional vocabulary
  40. [    ] Resistance to perfectionism


Now check at which of them you score high and which you score low and write them on the table:


I score high

I want to improve


Finally, just make a note of those which seem especially important to you and you would like to improve. Let this new realization linger in your mind for the days to come.



Mind relaxation exercises

Mind relaxation exercises 150 150 Manolis Stratakis

The following exercises will help you sharpen your observation and augment your cognizance. They will help you kick away the tension of the day and relax your body and mind. Select those that suit you and perform them a few times a day.


I. Sit in a comfortable position, simply with your eyes closed for 5’

II. If there are any external sounds, just focus on them without doing anything else

III. If there are no external sounds, just focus on your breath


I. Bend and touch your toes with your fingers. If you find it difficult, just bend a little and touch your knees. Repeat after a few minutes. Was it a bit easier this time? Repeat again. Do you see how your flexibility is improved after some consecutive attempts?

II. Stretch any of the muscles in your body for 1-2 minutes. Think how you felt before and after.


I. Scan your body from head to toes for a couple of minutes. Try to identify points of interest like:

  • Pain
  • Tension
  • Relaxation

II. As you drive your car, feel your weight on the seat, your hands on the steering wheel, the position of your hands and legs.

III. Consciously observe the texture of the objects you touch with your hands

  • Hardness
  • Temperature
  • Moisture

Awareness sharpening games

Awareness sharpening games 150 150 Manolis Stratakis

Play as many of the games described below as you can. They will sharpen your awareness. They will help you gain a better perception of your body and of the environment, which is very important for a calm and pleasant life.

When brushing your teeth

Try it with your eyes closed for 1-2 minutes. Feel the contact and the overall sense of the toothbrush hair on your teeth and gums. Feel the toothpaste foam bubbles that burst in your mouth. Focus just on a single sense at a time.

In the shower

Allow your mind to have a short break by focusing on one sense at a time. Pay attention to the water drops which fall on your head and your skin, or to the sound of the water which falls on the shower floor.

On the treadmill

Switch off the iPod and close your eyes (hold the side handles if possible) and listen to the sound of the machine, your breath or the other sounds around you. Try to focus on the feeling of the particular muscles which are exercised. Let time pass without thinking anything. Just feel how your body responds.

When eating

Chew slowly your food, for at least 30-40 times each mouthful. The first times you may need to count but after a while it becomes a habit. Try to feel the taste and the texture of the food as it changes. Switch off the TV and your mobile phone, avoid to do anything else in parallel. Just focus in all the details you can detect about your food. Try it for at least a few times so you can enjoy the experience and then you decide whether you continue.

When you touch an object or a person

Try to do it in an active manner, with cognizance. Feel the sensation of the touch. The pressure on your fingers or your body. The temperature (heat or coolness) that emits, the hardness, the moisture, the energy. Sense the feelings this touch generates.

When seated

Feel your weight on the chair. Recognize the contact points. Scan your body. What are the angles of your arms, legs and pelvis? At which points do you detect some tension? What points feel totally relaxed? Lean forward or shift your body slightly at some direction. Is it better now or worse? Do some tests and gain as much awareness as you can.

When you wait

Look around you. Observe the people and the objects you see. Pay attention to all the details you can identify. If there no other objects to observe, turn your attention to yourself. Focus on your breath. How does it feel? Shallow and short? Deep and relaxed? What feelings can you detect? Anxiety and impatience? Peacefulness and boredom? Remember that whatever you feel is temporary and is ok. You gain control this way.

When in pain

Locate the pain point. Its size. What “color” is it? How much space does it take? What is its exact shape and intensity? What is its composition and temperature? Is it stable? Does it move, throb or thump? Is it acute and piercing? Is it sharp? Recognize, embrace and approve the pain!


Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!

Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles! 640 426 Manolis Stratakis

Things you will need

– A large jar

– Small-size papers or post-it notes


Perform one of the drills below on a daily basis:

  1. Think of a person to whom you would like to express your gratitude for something good he did for you, or for any other reason. He might have helped you at some point of your life or gave you inspiration through their paradigm. Perhaps they contributed indirectly by helping a person close to you or even contributed to a common cause you cared about.

Write a few words expressing your gratitude to this person!

  1. Think of something for which you are grateful. It can be anything, small or large. Something you may have considered given, but with a closer look you realize it isn’t. Something which you possess and you don’t want to lose. Or something bad which you managed to avoid, or it happened without affecting you. Or even something bad which just never happened!

Write just a few words expressing your gratitude about this!

Drop all your notes into your gratitude jar. In some time you will have a jar full with plenty of reasons to be grateful for what life has given you so far.

Gratitude’s effect on your brain

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the structure of the brain. Recently, fMRI has been used to study gratitude. The brain activity of participants was measured when experiencing different emotions, and found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and activates the brain’s reward pathways. In short, just like anti-depressant drugs, gratitude provides your brain with precious neurotransmitters like Serotonin (the happiness and satisfaction hormone) and Dopamine (the pleasure and motivation hormone).


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