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Archive for the ‘Thinking Differently’ Category

Money & You plus my friend Cherie Clark (who wrote a 600 page dissertation on Bucky for her PhD) have motivated me to learn more about Buckminster Fuller and his ideas.  In my “travels” I came across this delightful and entertaining piece that explains his principles in a easy to digest manner.  Enjoy!

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I was talking to my friend Natalie Tucker Miller and we talked about how summer was ending, meaning a return to “normal” after residing in a summer state of mind.  Here’s the thing though…we both work for ourselves.  We don’t have to work Monday-Friday, 9-5.  We can choose when, where and how we work.  We could have a summer state of mind all year!

What is a summer state of mind?

Well, at it’s most literal, it’s long days of daylight, barbecues and picnics, no school, and summer vacations.  But really it’s a mindset, I believe hearkening back to our own school days when summer meant freedom.  Pushing open those doors on that last day of school meant endless days of adventure, play and day-dreaming.

It’s no wonder that even when we’re all grown up, leading responsible lives, we still see summer as a time to slow down the pace and step up enjoyment of life.  So what’s to stop us from doing that all year long?

I’m thinking that we could learn a lot from children about how to live in a summer state of mind.  Every day would bring the opportunity to have an adventure, look at life with curiosity, discover new things, savor an ice cream cone–one slow lick at a time.  We’d look for every opportunity to laugh and tell silly stories and jokes.  Ask our friends to come out and play.  We’d try to catch the rain with our tongue, step into puddles to see them ripple, and dance barefoot in the grass. We’d live in the moment…reveling in the sun, watching the clouds, swinging in a hammock with no cares.  Most important, we’d view life with a “why not” attitude, believing all things were possible.

So come Labor Day in the U.S. I’m going to embrace being a grown-up and act like a child with a summer state of mind all year long.

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I find myself saying one thing over and over to people:  “don’t beat yourself up.”  Why is is that people are so determined to blame themselves for every little perceived failing?  We beat ourselves up when we deviate from our diet, forget to call someone, or don’t do something perfectly.

It’s counterproductive.  When you lay blame at your own doorstep, it’s de-motivating.  It’s what causes dieters to self-sabotage and end their healthy eating just because they had a donut, or a bad day.  It makes people stop pursuing a goal, just because they didn’t get it right the first time.  It leads to stress, unhappiness and a pandemic of low self-esteem.

So I am asking you, right now, to stop doing it.  Stop beating yourself up.

The very next time you find yourself in blame mode, stop and notice that’s what you’re doing.  Notice the voice speaking to you.  Is it your voice?  A voice from the past telling you you’re no good?  Recognize that whatever voice is it, it’s just not true.  It’s an old tape playing in your head, and you are due for a new one.

Instead of bemoaning that donut you shouldn’t have had, and chastising yourself for not having self-control, recognize how many GOOD choices you have made and congratulate yourself for that.  The one donut or the day of making less than stellar choices were a choice you made, and now you can start where you are and move forward making good choices.  And take the opportunity to learn what you need to do differently the next time.

Learn to accept yourself as you are.  If you begin by loving yourself exactly as you are this moment, you can move forward from there to achieiving the vision you set for yourself.  And when you hear that voice starting to berate you, recognize it as a voice from the past that no longer serves you, and tell it to “hush up.”

One of the things that can help is keeping an acknowledgement journal.  Each day, write down 3-5 things you appreciated about yourself today.  Some days it may be harder to come up with them, but even if you have to write “I got out of bed this morning when I didn’t want to” three times, do it.  Acknowledge yourself for actions, feelings, new thought patterns, breaking habits, good choices, everything you can think of.  If you don’t want to keep a journal, acknowledge yourself out loud instead. Tell yourself what a good job you just did, how nice you were to that colleague, or what a great choice you just made.  Keep doing it so it becomes a habit.

Stop living in the past.  Often, the self-blame relates to past mistakes…divorce, job issues, relationship issues.  Recognize that the past is over.  You can’t continue to dwell there.  Learn from the past, and forgive yourself.  Learn from little children…they make mistakes, fall down, pick themselves up and try again.  That’s how they learn.  They don’t blame themselves for not being perfect.

So the very next time you begin to slip, stop.  Tell yourself that you did the best you could under the circumstances (whatever they were) and decide to do better.  You are human. You’re not perfect.  You will do better the next time. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

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In Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes email this morning he quotes Dan Millman from Everyday Enlightenment:

“The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”

Not surprisingly, I totally agree.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t have any actual problems…illness, financial problems, relationship problems are all very real.  What it does mean, is how we think about those problems, how we respond or react to them, will make all the difference in how happy or stressed we are and what actions we choose to take.

If we are open to the opportunities presented by life, we begin to view circumstances as neither positive nor negative, but as opportunities for change, learning and choice.  If we choose to embrace life’s occurrences rather than resist or move into a place of fear, we allow ourselves to “go with the flow” of life, thereby reducing stress, and gaining what Millman calls “everyday enlightenment.”

Case in point:  I had a client who called me one day to tell me that she’d just returned from a business trip to find that her home had just had a major fire.  Her family was fine, but the home was in an unlivable condition.  In that instant she had a choice…to bemoan her fate, or to embrace the opportunity that it presented.  And there was a very clear opportunity for her…she could move into her weekend home and arrange to telecommute to her job part of the time.  While the opportunity or learning from every situation is not always as immediately clear, the choice to embrace each one with a positive outlook is.

Often it’s not even situations that we resist, but change of any kind, whether positive or negative.  We resist change because not only does it upset the the status quo, it also plunges us into the scary unknown.  When faced with change (like your pediatrician retiring to open a toy store in Taos, NM) our first response is to think of how that will negatively impact us (oh no, I have to find or get used to a new doctor, will they be as good, are they taking new patients, will they accept my insurance, will my child like them?)  or how that change may add an extra layer of to-dos (I have to research good pediatricians, ask for people’s experiences with them, make appointments, interview them, get the records moved…)

If instead of resisting, we seek the opportunity and possibilities in each situation, we often find that not only is it far less stressful than resistance, but there is even a benefit (the new doctor’s office is closer, they are more up-to-date, etc.) to looking at things differently.

As with everything, you need to create a new habit to replace an old one.  To create the new habit of not resisting change, start by deliberately embracing change in small ways.  Change the route you take to work, change the way you deal with emails and call someone to respond to a question rather than emailing, hold your phone in your other hand, change the order you do things in the evening.  Once you’ve mastered the art of small changes, you’ll begin to find it easier to weigh your options when situations occur.  And you’re well on your way to “everyday enlightenment.”

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I took a “Saturday Stretch” class today.  At first it’s slightly uncomfortable, but then it feels really good to stretch out the kinks and body tension from a week of sitting on the phone or at the computer in my office.  Stretching is really good for the body…elongating those muscles and opening up the joints is so important to improving muscle control, flexibility and range of motion.

And so it is with getting out of your comfort zone and stretching yourself!  At first it may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable, but as you stretch it feels really good to be growing in new ways.

What I am NOT talking about is just filling your mind with new information.  While I’m a big proponent of reading and adding to your memetic environment, that’s not stretching yourself.  What I am talking about is doing something different.  Trying new things.  Being open to new opportunities.

For me, taking on “My Quest” is a stretch, perhaps not so much with the subject matter, but certainly for the public way I’m going about it.  For you, it may be something entirely different, such as:

Getting into conversations with people you ordinarily don’t talk with
Learning to play the harp or speak Chinese
Going to a concert or movie by yourself
Going to a personal growth seminar if you’ve never been to one
Getting a coach [of course!] to make huge shifts in your life  😉
Registering with an online matchmaking service
Training for a trek to the North Pole (as my friend Raymond Aaron did!)

The result of stretching yourself will of course depend on how far out of your comfort zone you go.  But even a small stretch is likely to give you a sense of achievement, self-confidence and satisfaction.   And the more you stretch, the less you’re likely to experience fear of change and the more you are likely to want to stretch and grow even more.

Your idea of what is possible for you will likely stretch as well.  What might that lead to for you?  If anything is possible…what will you do?

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What if you were surrounded only by those things you used and loved? Things that were beautiful and made your heart sing?  Clothes that lifted the spirits and made you feel great.

Most of us have far too much.  I know I do.  My closets are crammed and overflowing, and I’ll bet there’s things in mine (and yours) that haven’t been worn in years.  There are items hiding in the back of my pantry that probably need carbon dating.  Things in the cellar and attic that I don’t need, don’t want, and probably a few that I have no idea what they are.  There are items I received as engagement gifts that I’ve never used, and never will.  Books I’ll never read. Magazines I keep for what reason?

The interesting thing is that when you eliminate the clutter, the unnecessary and unbeautiful, it frees you up in more ways than just space.  For me, it releases stress, increases energy, and even enhances creativity.

Give it a try.  Eliminate 5 non-essential things each day, starting now. Look around you, what will go first?

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“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
G. K. Chesterton

Numerous studies have proven that gratitude plays a significant role in a person’s sense of well-being.  I encourage my clients (and everyone around me) to practice gratitude daily by greeting each day with five things you are grateful for,  saying a daily prayer of gratitude, or just mentally listing your gratitudes for the day.

That daily gratitude results in higher levels of enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy should not come as a surprise to anyone.  However it also results in increased alertness, increased creativity and expansive thinking, less depression and stress, and… people who practice daily gratitudes are more likely to take better care of themselves (eating better and exercising more regularly) and also tend to make more progress toward personal goals.

People who practice gratitude ARE happier!  And we all want that.  Like any new habit, you need to build your gratitude muscle in order to reprogram your subconscious mind.

How can you begin to practice gratitude?

Look at your surroundings.  Start by listing all the things in your environment you are grateful for.  Everything from the fact that your internet connection is working (and it must be if you’re reading this), to the people and things you love.

Take a trip to the beach, a local park, even the mall.  Notice all the things there that you enjoy.  Are you grateful for all the laughing children?  The beauty of nature?  The sounds of the surf, or the music playing in the car on the way to your destination?   All the green lights that you sailed though on your way.  Pay attention.  Enjoy.

Share your gratitude.  Acknowledge the people around you for the things that they do.  Thank your parents for all they have done for you.  Track down a former teacher and acknowledge them for the difference they made in your life.  Write a friend a letter of thank you, just for being your friend.  Share the thanks!

So take up a challenge…practice gratitude for the next 30 days and see how it changes your life.

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RESOURCES FOR GRATITUDE
Head on over to http://www.unleashgratitude.com:3000/ and subscribe to their no-cost weekly Gratitudenews—a “weekly shot of gratitude in three minutes or less”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9z2ELaBVJY  The gratitude dance! This will make you smile.

http://www.gratefulness.org/t/abc.htm  The ABCs of gratitude

http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org   Creating a habit of being complaint-free.

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