THE MANY BENEFITS OF GIVING THANKS

November 23, 2018

Giving Thanks

“There are increasing indications that feeling grateful can have a powerfully positive effect on our lives, health, psychological and emotional well-being. Kids who experience more gratitude do better in school, set higher goals for themselves, derive more satisfaction from life, friends, family, and school, and are less materialistic and have more desire to give back.”  Samantha Smithstein, Psy.D., Psychology Today

Research by Jeffrey J. Froh, an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., has found that adults who focus on what they are thankful for are more optimistic; report less depression and fewer physical complaints, and sleep better.

Daily Gratitude writing can be challenging—I know.  Here are some tricks of the trade to keep your efforts consistent:

  1. It starts with a Gratitude Journal. You can use anything, of course—an old half-empty notebook works fine, but it motivates me to use a gratitude journal, which you can purchase at any bookstore, many gift stores or even drugstores. It’s good to see that thankfulness is catching on. But even with a fancy, leather-bound, expensive book of blank pages, I was still having a problem with consistency.
  2. It helped me to find accountability partners. I began each day emailing or texting three gratitude statements to my daughters and their significant others. The side benefit was that they would email me back with three things they were grateful for that morning. If you live any distance from your grown children, sharing what you are all grateful for each day helps to keep you close as a family. Of course, your accountability partner could be a friend or colleague. Be sure to choose someone who is not overly judgmental and who will share their gratitude statements.
  3. Pay a gratitude visit or write a letter to someone who has helped you in the past.
  4. As you go through your day, notice when something occurs for which you are grateful. Write or say out loud how grateful you are. If another person is involved, tell them immediately how much you appreciate their contribution to your life.
  5. While reinforcing the positive, remember to notice when your mind is drifting into negative thinking. Then stop! Silva Mind Control used to teach people to use a trigger phrase like “Cancel, cancel,” prompting the mind to release the negative thought. Then take a moment to focus on the positive. Give thanks.

THE POWER OF THANKSGIVING

November 18, 2018

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

Use the power of Gratitude to train your mind to know what you want, who you are and where you’re guiding your life.

By focusing on the good around us, we train our minds to search out what’s right in our environment and to take the steps necessary to attract better outcomes into our lives. After years of studying and developing a gratitude routine, I’ve discovered that it is most effective when I use a four-pronged approach.

Be grateful for those things that you have now—things that you judge as good. This can include any area of your life that you believe is going well—good relationships, success at work, a good workout routine. It can even be as simple as being thankful for a great cup of coffee that morning or a beautiful sunrise: “Thank you for this gorgeous morning.”

One way to reinforce the work of the subconscious is through gratitude statements. When you achieve a goal, no matter how small, give thanks to yourself or others who were involved. Give yourself a gift of time off, a special dinner or a purchase of something sweet.

The best way to incorporate this achievement and happiness tool, however, is by showing your gratitude every day. First thing in the morning, make a list of people and things for which you are grateful. This will not only reinforce the achievement process; it will help you begin each day on a positive note. For example, if you continuously message that you are grateful for a strong, healthy body, your subconscious will help you to maintain that state by increasing your energy and desire to work out, decreasing your craving for fatty foods, increasing your taste for healthy, nutritious food, etc. The subconscious is a beautiful partner, adjusting your focus and assisting you in obtaining the things you appreciate.

Be grateful for the people and situations that challenge you the most. You are the sum of all your experiences—the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of the people who have challenged you the most have also helped mold you into the person you are today. You may not be a big fan of your ex-boss or ex-spouse(s) but consider how you grew and strengthened as a direct consequence of a relationship you found so problematic at the time. Thank them for their contribution to your growth.

Be Grateful for Goals You Are Going to Achieve. One way of demonstrating gratitude for what you plan to achieve is by setting specific, detailed goals. Embedding goals deeply into your subconscious is like programming a GPS in your car. It not only shows you the way to your destination, but a voice (in your head) also alerts you when you make a wrong turn and instructs you how to get back on the right path: “Turn right, or you will suffer a severe financial setback,” or something like that.

When you reach a goal, what then? Maxwell Maltz, the author of Psycho-Cybernetics, wrote that the primary function of the subconscious servo-mechanism (aka the Reticular Activating System or RAS) is to give you what you want or, more accurately, what you expect. The process of consciously selecting and incorporating goals into your belief system tells your subconscious what you expect out of life. When it delivers, when you achieve a goal, it looks for validation—gratitude. If you feel disappointment, let down, or simply move onto the next goal, your subconscious can become confused about whether assisting with the fulfillment of goals is the right thing to do. This mixed messaging can diminish the effectiveness of future goals. The subconscious is a great tool but, like computers, it is very literal, requiring specific, clear instructions. Stating gratitude for what you are creating—your goals— makes it clear to your subconscious what you have chosen to accomplish. Always word your statements as if they have already manifested. If you speak of them as being in the future, they will remain in the future.

Be Grateful for who you are or who you are becoming. If you are working to change a behavior or habit, or want to reinforce your most cherished values, thankfulness can help. If you recognize behaviors/habits that you want to change, or that you believe need to be adjusted to achieve your goals, create gratitude statements that reinforce your new behaviors or habits. If you already use affirmations to affirm your goals, reword them as gratitude statements and add them to your daily gratitude time.

Using the power of thankfulness, train your mind to know what you want, who you are and where your life is headed. Be grateful when things go your way and when they don’t. Embrace the reality of our chaotically perfect world and be thankful each morning that you have another opportunity to enjoy the ride.


When the Teacher is Ready…

October 29, 2018

When the Teacher is Ready…YodaYou are not alone. When you choose a life of intentional growth, there are teachers everywhere to help you in your quest. Dan Milman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior, wrote: “Master teachers are found not only on lonely mountaintops or ashrams in the East. Our teachers take the form of friends and adversaries, of clouds, animals, wind, and water.”

When we ask, our teachers reveal all we need to know. The question is: Are you paying attention? We call our teachers by our need to learn and grow. Since we are not always conscious of the fact that we’re calling, we may miss a message. But don’t worry.  If they elude you at first, they will be back, and they’ll keep coming back until you finally hear. I wrote this display quote for Blood of the Dragon:

There is nothing more persistent than life’s lessons demanding to be learned—subtle at first, gentle waves languishing up the sands of status quo to kiss the tips of indifferent toes, then receding into the infinite ocean of ideas.

Unheeded, lessons will be revealed again and again, with growing intensity: awakening splashes against your ankles, then jolting soaks up to the knees.

One day, as you’re walking peacefully along the beach, the lessons you must learn rise up and knock you off your feet with the ferocity of tidal waves.

This is not some mystical mumbo-jumbo. Everything you need to live a blissful, loving, peaceful and productive life is all around you. Teachers appear because your senses become attuned to their message. Unlike many self-help teachers, I don’t believe that we mystically attract our teachers out of the ether—they are already in our midst. We don’t recognize them until the need arises and we outwardly communicate it.

I’m not just talking about spiritual growth. If you want to learn how to sing, your senses will become tuned to any source of information that will help you in this quest. You may never have been aware of any voice teachers in your area. But as soon as you decide to become a singer, you run into a voice coach at your daughter’s basketball game or read an article about a local teacher. If you had no intention of singing, the voice coach would still be at the game, and the article would still be in the paper; you just wouldn’t have any reason to notice them.

How should you go about calling your teachers?

Become more intentional about growth. Focus on the need for guidance, inspiration, ideas, and you open your perception to the lessons you need. A low-volume conversation in the next aisle at a grocery store will bypass your awareness altogether. However, if you are looking for a nanny, and a person in the next checkout aisle is talking about how sad the family is because they can no longer afford their great nanny, your perception is drawn to this conversation.

You direct the focus of your perception by recognizing what it is you want. Write it down. Create a vision board and hang it somewhere where you can see it every day. Focus on where you want to be, and the path will be revealed. To view the path, you must open your awareness—watch for it.

Expect to receive help—look for it in seemingly unrelated places—and you will find everything you need for your life.


Resistance is Futile

October 4, 2018

PizzaYou have always dreamed of opening a pizza parlor. You drive by the perfect vacant building for your business and see a “For Lease” sign in the window. This is it! Time to make your dream come true. You create a vision board with photos of pizzas, of people laughing and enjoying life with a slice in one hand and a brew in the other. You research everything you can about opening a small business in this industry. You do some self- analysis. Do you have the knowledge and skills necessary to open and run a successful pizza parlor? If not, you read books, take a class or two at the local community college, perhaps even go to work in a pizza joint to learn the trade from the ground up. You are so ready and so confident that you quit your high-paying job in the securities industry and begin taking actions to make your dream happen.

Because you’ll need a use permit from the city, you prepare a detailed, thoughtful presentation for the planning commission meeting. To your dismay, the commission turns you down, based primarily on the testimony of several local merchants who show up to protest that pizza parlors promote juvenile delinquency with their video games and loud music, not to mention the health issues created by all that cheese, pepperoni, sausage and lard. The merchants want something more sophisticated in the location like another dress store—which would be #31 in the downtown area.

Just like that. Rejected after one meeting. Do you respond with resistance or acceptance?

Resistance Response: The contrast between the actual result—no pizza parlor—and your idea of an idyllic unfolding of your lifelong dream hits you like a ton of mozzarella. Your ego rails at this horrible injustice. You go home and tell your wife how you’ve been treated. She leaves you. Well, hey, you did leave a good job and failed to deliver on the promised replacement. You decide to have a bottle of rum for lunch, write a scathing editorial in the local paper about “scumbags” on the planning commission and get sued by the city. To prove the merchants wrong, after hurling dog-poop bombs onto all their storefronts, you open a pizza place in a ratty, rundown part of town where no use permit is required. You fill it with video games and a loud jukebox. The cops arrest you for promoting gang violence; you receive a 10- year sentence that gets extended to 15 because they find your fingerprints on the bags that held the dog poop.

Acceptance Response: You accept the conclusion of the planning commission, understanding that they were only responding to the wishes of many dissenting merchants. You hire a land use attorney and begin planning for your appeal to the city council. In the meantime, you schedule meetings with several of the merchants who spoke against your plan. You share with them research as to the positive community effects of pizza parlors, invite them to a taste testing, giving them a role in the selection of your menu and make concessions about the number and types of video games you’ll provide and the style and volume of the music. No gangster rap allowed. You obtain a permit and open shop.

When you accept an outcome, you are merely acknowledging how life works.


Who is Steering Your Boat

October 4, 2018

Steering BoatGoogle personal responsibility and you will find a variety of definitions, most of which appear to be synonymous with blame

“You have to take responsibility for your mess!” Assigning responsibility, however, is not the same as blame. Blame is a judgment after the fact, a witch hunt, the pointing of fingers. Taking responsibility is a way of approaching life. Whether or not you are taking responsibility for your experiences during this lifetime can be determined by answering one simple question: Who is steering my boat?

Victims might say that the current location and condition of their boat is the result of a strong wind, the changing tides, or perhaps being sideswiped by someone else’s boat. They believe their experiences are the result of external causes—people and circumstances beyond their control.

Self-directed people would acknowledge the wind, the tide and the errant boat, but attribute the location and condition of the boat to how they chose to turn the wheel, rig the sails, and respond to threats like swerving to avoid an imminent collision. They know that their experience is based on their response to what they observe in the world—not the object of their observation.

By accepting responsibility for your life up to now, you empower yourself to  mold  your life going forward.


The Necessity and Joy of FEAR

July 23, 2018

Fear Here’s some good news: You don’t have to conquer, avoid, eliminate or defeat fear! Just learn when and how to use it to enhance and expand your quality of life.

Fear is not a real thing; it doesn’t exist in nature. It is you. It is your way of protecting yourself when you’ve decided you need protection. No more than that!

Fear is the signpost we plant to block our entry to any place we believe we cannot or should not go: STOP! DANGER!! Keep out! Attack Cat! Trespassers shall be arrested, reported, towed, shot, fined and eaten! Big cat! Fear alerts us whenever we’re about to travel from the known to the unknown. It is a by-product of our beliefs—an enforcement tool we utilize whenever our subconscious finds a conflict between what we believe and what we encounter in the “real world.” It is the wall we construct that blocks access to any place, person or situation that is outside of our self-constructed, limiting comfort zone.

There is no such phenomenon in the universe except within our imaginations. So, stop thinking of fear as a big, dark monster lurking around every corner.

If I believe that I am a great swimmer, will I feel fear at the prospect of getting into a friend’s backyard pool? Of course not. But if I firmly believe that I cannot swim, that I will sink like a rock in any water deeper than 5’8” (my height), you can bet I am going to conjure up a fear response to keep my body on dry land. My fear of swimming protects and perpetuates the belief that I cannot swim—a belief I was given by my dad who told my brother and me that the men in our family have some rare “specific gravity” that causes us to sink rather than float. I think that means we’re dense. That was, of course, crap—my dad’s way of rationalizing his fear of water. But, I was a kid, he was my dad—so I don’t swim.

Some fears keep you safe, like the fear of growling dogs. Others motivate you, like fear of poverty. These fear markers keep you moving safely along your life path. Some fears, however, restrict life unnecessarily. They don’t facilitate progress as much as they impede. While my fear of water protects my old belief that I can’t swim, that belief is based on bad information. This fear-block is preventing me from enjoying the water—swimming, snorkeling, scuba, time with friends. If I modify the belief that I can’t swim, create and absorb affirmations that I am a great swimmer, perhaps take some lessons, I can retire that fear-response.

The planet doesn’t care whether you spend your life in fear, worry, and debt, or in harmony, love and prosperity. In the end, it will take back your molecules and energy whether you had a happy, loving life or one of suffering. Taking your licks doesn’t even buy you an extra hour on the planet. No points for martyrdom. May as well be happy and relatively free of fear. It is your choice!

If you think you would prefer peace and joy over suffering in fear, when will you make that choice? When will your actions reflect that choice? What are you waiting for?

To learn more about controlling fear (rather than the other way around), check out Chapter 3 in my new book, Ignite Your Dormant SuperPowers, available soon in bookstores and on Amazon.com.


How Long Does it Take to Change a Habit?

June 12, 2018

I’ve learned from experience that a lot of what I was told by seminar leaders turned out to be. . . well, wrong. I realized that some (though not all) trainers oversimplify a process so that it is more marketable. For instance, I had read/heard that I could change any habit in 21 days or 30 days, depending on the trainer—sound familiar? If you have heard these or any other “magic” time frames, they are about as useful as a steering wheel on a dirt bike. In fact, they are worse than that. If you expect to experience a change in behavior in 21 days and nothing happens, it can be very disappointing – make you wonder what you did wrong – lead to guilt and disillusionment.

The truth, in my experience, is that a habit or belief of any kind can be changed in an instant, a week, month, year or perhaps never. The time it takes to alter a habit depends on many factors: your desire to change, your belief in your ability to change, how many and how strong the conflicting old beliefs, and your commitment to diligently work the transformation process, just to list a few. In general, I recommend a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to personal growth trainers—including me. If you are drawn to a philosophy or program, experiment with it, test it out. If it works, great. If not, eject and keep searching. No program fits all, but there is always a way if you know what you want and expect to find it.