Believe it when you See it

September 27, 2008

Quote of the Week


“Beliefs are the determinants of what one experiences. There are no external ’causes.'”
David Hawkins: Internationally renowned psychiatrist, physician, researcher


This quote embodies the essence of the phrase “taking responsibility.” Notice I didn’t say “Blame.” There is enough blame in the world without us blaming ourselves for our experience of life. I am no David Hawkins, but here is how I believe the process works:


Upon entering the world, we each begin to accumulate a unique set of beliefs. These can be as basic as fire burns, or as complex as the prejudicial beliefs we tend to develop toward certain groups of people (the Irish drink whiskey, Germans drink beer, college students drink anything). Throughout our lives we add and refine these beliefs based on experience. Ex: A man being chased by a rival comes across an apple tree. He picks up a handful of apples from the ground and throws them at his pursuer. He makes a decision that apples are weapons. Attracted by the smell of crushed apples he takes a bite. His belief is now modified to apples can be weapons or applesauce.


This long list of beliefs is the basis of our perception, the complex filter through which we view the world. If there was one human perception, there’d be no conflict – but here we are. Since our perception is made up of our beliefs, we tend to see what we expect to see and filter out what we don’t. The old phrase “You’ll Believe it when You See it,” would be more appropriately stated, “You’ll See it when You Believe it.” In summary, the entire process flows like this:


1.     Beliefs form our unique perception.

2.     How we perceive the world directs our actions.

3.     Our actions create our experience of the world.

4.     Thus: “Beliefs are the determinants of what one experiences.”


Viewed in this manner, we understand that it is our choice of beliefs that ultimately dictates our experience, not external causes. This understanding is helpful because it allows us to not only stop blaming others for our circumstances; it is the source of our power, what allows us to change our lives for the better.

By changing our underlying beliefs we alter our perception, modify our actions and, therefore,

transform our experience of the world.

Don’t Worry; be happy.

September 20, 2008

Quote of the Week



   “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”       

                                                                                   Anne Frank



This week, reading this quote jerked me out of my hypnotic fixation on the U.S. financial crisis. I hope it does the same for you.


Does it mitigate the problems? Does thinking about the beauty around us reduce interest rates or provide bailout funds for homeowners caught with rising payments and shrinking home values? Does being happy prevent the further build-up of our out-of-control National debt? Probably not. Will it help us to pay our bills, hang onto our homes, increase our incomes? Well…actually, yes: I believe it can.


Perhaps the most critical trait of successful people is their ability to remain positive, optimistic and confident regardless of the ever-present turmoil that is life. This attitude is what attracts people to them, what makes us believe in their ability to provide consistent quality service even under the most difficult circumstances. When successful people begin to fail, it can almost always be traced back to a failure of attitude.


The words of Anne Frank can impart multiple helpful and potentially transformative messages. The first, and most obvious, is that if Anne Frank could remain optimistic and happy while enduring the horrors of Nazi Germany we should be able to overcome the emotional affects of a temporary credit crisis. I am absolutely embarrassed at how I have let transitory economic conditions bring me down, steal my attention from everything good and beautiful around me.


This quote also reminds me of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“We are what we think about all day long.”

That’s a pretty scary thought given that my thoughts have been filled with images of financial disaster, natural disaster and frustration and anger from observing the negative, vitriolic presidential campaign. I don’t just believe what Emerson is saying, I know it; I’ve lived it – am living it.


I have already seen the products of my recent negative focus. I’ve notice myself being quicker to anger, using more profanity around my family, having less patience, feeling the necessity of imposing my opinions on others while they are still talking, and have felt a general lack of direction and purpose. Whoa!! This is not me. Or, at least, not who I choose to be.


At our sales meeting this week, we spent the hour discussing the economic meltdown, its affect on the real estate market and how long it might last. And, while I do believe it is important for real estate agents to be informed, one agent came up to me after the meeting and reminded me of what I’d forgotten: Instead of spending so much time talking about what caused the current problems or when they might end, we should accept the current environment and concentrate on how we can thrive and continue to serve ourselves and our clients TODAY.


So, thank you Anne Frank, Ralph Waldo and my insightful agent. Today I choose to think of all the beauty around me and be happy. Tomorrow? I think I’ll just focus on today.

Simply Listen

September 13, 2008

Quote of the Week


“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”                                                              Margaret J. Wheatley


If, as you read this quote, you experience relief, feel a weight being lifted from your shoulders, or even sense a glimmer of hope that the pressure to  solve the world’s problems could possibly disappear, this lesson is for you.


It is a nearly universal belief that when someone shares a problem or concern they are asking for help, seeking our wisdom, expecting a solution. This is especially true for us men. It seems that we are born with the fix-it gene (apparently located on the Y chromosome). There is no problem too small or large that we won’t attempt to solve. You ladies may not be aware of it, but we even have a slogan, “Have answers; will blurt them out.” I know it can be infuriating at times, but have pity, that’s just the way we’re wired.


I was fortunate that, in the early days of our relationship, my wife, Cheryl, was willing to take the time and effort to point out that my clever and insightful opinions were not always being requested or appreciated. That was hard to understand at first. Why would she tell me about a problem if not seeking my assistance? What possible benefit could be derived by having me just sit and listen? Wouldn’t an empty chair serve the same purpose?


What I discovered after repeated reminders was that being heard is a rare and powerful gift. As I experienced being listened to, I learned that most of the anxiety I experience around problems is released by the simple act of being heard. Once this magical gift is received, we are able to think more clearly, consider our options and solve our own problems. We feel nourished, worthy, even loved when another person cares enough to sit quietly as we pour out our doubts and fears; we feel respected when they trust our ability to discover our own solutions. 


As difficult as it may seem, the next time someone shares a problem or concern with you, sit quietly and listen intently. When they are finished, let them know that you hear and understand, ask questions if you need clarification, then be silent. If they are seeking your advice, allow them to ask for it. If not, don’t offer. Then notice the change in their state. Has their anger or anxiety abated, do they seem more relaxed, relieved? If so, this is their gift to you. Enjoy it.