Life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don’t allow the happy moments, because they’re so busy trying to get a happy life.
I read somewhere that 97% of new years resolutions fail. Not sure how someone comes up with a stat like that, but kinda makes sense to me. Usually, we have made large “resolutions”, sometimes even things we have been wanting to do for years. Fill in the “thing” for you. In tackling these resolutions, there can be some things that get in the way of creating new habits to lasting change, often emotions and old ways of thinking leading the list. What I have come to believe is that whatever we want to accomplish has a much better chance of working and lasting past January if we break down those resolutions into smaller steps. Small steps often allow us to move through these emotions and old ways of thinking much slower so we allow ourselves time to adjust to our new habits. If your used to seeing yourself 30 pounds overweight, and you are unhappy about it, you have probably have an ongoing way of thinking about yourself when it comes to your weight. A story you, and others, may say over and over again. I am not a psychiatrist, however, even if you could lose 30 pounds in one day your thoughts of “old self” will not have lost “the weight”. When we take a new habit and break it down into smaller steps that are more easily achievable it helps keeps our negative thinking a bit more in check. Actually, there is a book on small steps I really like called “One small step can change your life” by Robert Mauer. He brings up what I have read in other places is that the part of our brain, the amygdala, that controls our fight or flight response is very sensitive to new things. Sensitive, in that it often senses fear in most new things, and will actually put up mental and emotional road blocks to doing the new thing. This part of the brain was a lot more useful when we were cave women and men where danger and death was often around the corner. It kept us from wandering too far, eating new things, leaving the cave at night. But now, most of us, really do not need to be as overly sensitive and the way we are designed has not caught up with the last 20,000 years or so. Actually, in my abundance work, I sometimes see people feel better about this (me too!), that their problems with integrating new habits have probably much more to do with the way we are designed than what we think is just our own lack of discipline. To get around this “design flaw” Dr. Mauer recommends this small step strategy I’m eluding to. Make your steps to your goal so small that it keeps this part of our brain in check. For example, if your trying to loose 30 pounds, how about focusing on loosing one pound a month, if that is not scary to you. You keep the fear down, because the brain says, “wow, I don’t have to change my whole life right
away, I can lose just one pound by doing this or that”. My personal one, is that I have been desiring to add more stretching to my daily routine. Right now, I’m doing 4 different stretches, 10 seconds each, every day. Only 40 seconds, my “brain” isn’t scared. Next step… I’m just leaving my yoga mat on the floor, as a visual reminder. Mostly I trip over it more than I do any stretches, but some days I do a bit more. Part of the practice is to give myself credit for these little steps. Of course, sometimes my negative thinking pops in and says negative crap or judges my small steps. I can’t control my thinking, so I let my brain think whatever it wants and practice choosing not believing those negative thoughts and just come back when I’m ready to pat myself on the back for my small steps. As a guide, if your not accomplishing a step you make for yourself repeatedly, likely your not making your steps small enough. What many people find with a small step practice is you allow momentum to build and you allow some of your old ways of thinking to slowly change so your habits are much more likely to be permanent. As the old proverb says: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
My friend Judi said this to me a while back. “…change to being moving from towards what you want do want, instead of moving away from what you don’t”. I couldn’t agree more with this subtle yet powerful difference in thinking. Staying focused on what you lack, I believe will keep you in “lack”, so to speak. Flipping that to focusing on what you want or where you want to go I feel creates more positive “energy” in that direction and it just feels lighter and better to direct your focus forward not back.
Do you have some place in your life you could try that?
The definition of thank you is an acknowledgement of appreciation or expression of gratitude.
I feel we need to really hear and feel that appreciation and gratitude coming to us. When someone thanks you for something, how do you respond? Do you say “your welcome” or do you have a hard time hearing it? Maybe you deflect the “thank you” by saying something like, “oh, it was nothing” or “you would have done the same for me”. In my abundance work, I often find many people are better at giving than they are at receiving. I believe for us to receive more abundance in whatever area in life we want, we actually have to be open to and good at receiving! If we can’t receive a simple “thank you”, how are we to receive more of other things? So, when a thank you or a compliment comes your way, notice how you respond and feel in the moment. For a practice, try FULLY take in a “thank you” before responding at all, maybe just for a second, and “feel” the “thank you” and then respond with “your welcome” or in some manner that you acknowledge the appreciation coming your way. I feel when you do this you are acknowledging your gift to that person and receiving their appreciation at the same time. This balance opens the door to more abundance.
Most people do not realize that as they continue to find things to complain about, they disallow their own physical well-being. Many do not realize that before they were complaining about an aching body or a chronic disease, they were complaining about many other things first. It does not matter if the object of your complaint is about someone you are angry with, behavior in others that you believe is wrong, or something wrong with your own physical body. Complaining is complaining, and it disallows improvement.
Excerpted from the book “Money and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Health, Wealth and Happiness” # 530
For the most part I’m pretty good about following the wisdom from above, but I notice my challenge is often listening to complaining. Often in talking with people I like to connect with them deeper than “how is the weather” and hear what’s going on in their life. For me in that “connecting” with others there may come complaining. I notice this after a while is draining for me. So, sometimes I make a game of this. I’ll shift conversations as complaining comes up and of course, if the complaining is too much, find an out and walk away
Of course, people challenges can often be more “negative” or end up sounding like complaining. Often I notice in complaining it’s often about something outside of us, so its often a powerless place. I’m all about shifting that to a place where we/I have power as best as possible.
My wife and I were out to dinner last night at one the more beautiful resorts in our beach community and beyond. It featured a beach, waves crashing on rocks, nice breeze, perfect evening temperature, various types of palm trees lit up, a sunset, then stars, a mariachi band playing, excellent food and drink and of course, most importantly, my wife. Lot’s of “entertainment” right? You probably know where this is going…….We look at the table to the right, 3 of 6 on the phone. On the left, 3 of 3! A trip to the bathroom reveals most tables with one or more devices going.
This is nothing new to anyone, but it’s safe to say we have a problem. Are we really saying that anything on our phone is more important that anything in front of our face! Or, at least this is what I have thought. I listened to a podcast by Sam Harris the other day and his guest was a tech guy that his former job was to create addictive programs for companies like facebook, google, ect. It’s the fight for attention in the attention economy. Yes, the more addictive the better. Likes, pop ups and things I don’t even know about created by very smart people to keep us sucked in. Yes, these people create algorithms to get you to stay on a website longer so the ad dollars add up faster! It’s their JOB and they are very, very good at it.
I watched a U tube video by Allison Graham where she referenced a study by gallop. In 2001 the average American reported they had 10 really close friends. In 2014 it’s down to two! She goes on to suggest that technology is likely the main reason for the decline. I guess when the average person touches their phone 150 times a day that is going to have an impact. More time invested into technology and not into maintaining a REAL friendship. In the TED talk below, titled “Connected, but alone”, by Sherry Turkle. From her research, she sees some major changes that are going on in humans relating to each other and social media. It’s a 20 minute talk, so if you have the time, it brings up some very powerful things to consider. Here are a few; “We are sacrificing conversation for connection. Kind of a sip versus a big gulp. We are tempted by machines that offer companionship or at least the illusion of it without the demands of friendship. We expect more from technology and less and less from each other. We have discovered a new way of being alone together”. She doesn’t beat up technology completely, she just feels we need to have a conversation about this relatively new way of communicating. To have some self awareness about our relationship to technology, recognize our vulnerability (that can hook us to social media) and take the time to create or affirm our values. She offers nothing really new, but simple things like “take the time to talk, remind ourselves and teach our children that solitude is a good thing (we don’t have to fill every free second with something tech), create a sacred space that is technology free, like the kitchen or dinning room and bring conversation back.
Sounds about right to me.
PS She did this in video in 2012, I guess we are not getting the message!
Something I read today got me thinking today about how we really do not listen to others very often. We often are so anxious to push our experiences, feelings and opinions on others we miss what others experiences, feelings and opinions actually are. Actually, at one level we maybe just trying to connect by saying , “oh yeah, I went to that restaurant, city, country or whatever as well”. That “sameness” can feel comforting at times, however, sometimes when someone has “done” that to me, I do not really feel listened to and in some cases if they did the thing I did, but in a bigger way, I can feel a bit “smaller” sometimes. Certainly conversations can be unconscious ego competitions as well. For me sometimes, I’ll stop the depth of my conversation saying to myself, well if they are not going to listen, I’ll move on. The energy of the conversation has shifted for me. So much for the sameness!
I’m playing with my listening practice, by really listening and asking open ended questions about others experience, How did it feel? What did it look like?, smell like? What did it mean to you? Do you want to do that again and why? Expanding my understanding of how important this experience was to this person as I can and maybe even try this persons shoes on for a second or how life looks through their eyes. While doing so, keeping my experiences to myself, unless asked. This is hard to do sometimes! But, do I really need to tell someone I have mountain biked that trail a hundred times while their in the middle of explaining their excitement for riding it for the first time?
I feel we can miss an opportunity to connect at a deeper level, understand a friend better, or even hear the other side of an argument that you totally disagree with: well at least the first two!
I read a book called the energy bus a while back and really like the simple message the author had in an entertaining story format. The story in a nut shell is about a guy with nothing going right in life learns how to be responsible for his own energy. The story gets going as the guy hops on a bus, after his car breaks down, and gets on a bus with a special bus driver. The bus driver over the days he is taking the bus, teaches him some steps to improving his energy and thus his life. Though it is more focused on the guy’s business life, it has a lot of lessons that are great reminders for everyday life.
The book has 12 “steps” to creating better “energy” for yourself and the one that I resonate now as I reflect back on the book it is “getting rid of energy vampires”. Basically, saying we do not have to keep relationships that are taking our energy away or draining us over and over. I would offer that can be very important in your overall daily attitude and health. It seems there are willing “energy vampires” that will dump their problems on you until your glossed over and drained. I think some of us do not realize how draining these conversations can be. I feel sometimes we can get caught up in others story and or feel obligated to listen. For those relationships that truly are draining the book says, get rid of them. I agree for the most part, as it seems life’s too short to let yourself get “energetically sucked” all the time. So, saying no to being “dumped on” is important to me. I wrote an earlier blog about having a 5 minute dumping rule (click here) you might be interested in reading. In that, I mention that it usually feels better to handle more difficult conversations on your terms, when your energy is higher and your better prepared. Also, guiding or requesting conversations to focus on solutions always feels better to me. With taking about solutions I feel I can keep my energy higher and of course, that conversion usually has more positive energy around it.
Clearly their are certain relationships that maybe more complex that you chose keep or maintain for various reasons and times when you just have to “be there” for someone in time of need. I’m just suggesting to take a look at the those consistent “energy vampires” in your life. Also, even though a person maybe be a co worker you must be around or maybe a family member, that still doesn’t let you off the hook for “managing” that particular relationship. Often, the outcome is a better relationship or just more energy for you.
“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”
Read this quote somewhere and reminded me that when we are in our problems we are often focused so much on them, that our thinking becomes self fulfilling……Focus on problem, the problem remains, gets bigger or more problems surface…..When we are stuck in/on the “problem”, we are in the “energy” or thinking of that problem. We think over and over about the problem. Play it over in our mind, again and again, I believe staying in the “problem energy”.
Let’s say we have a problem with a person that “created” a problem for you. What someone said or did. Staying in what was said or done, will not change anything of course. What was said or done is over and in the past. Talking consistently about it will only keep you in the situation of the past. That situation has an energy to it, like a vibration, and I believe affects not only your thinking, but your body and its health and vitality. Think of the difference you feel and your energy you have when you have a pleasant conversation versus an argument. One you feel fresh and light and the other drained, sometimes physically AND emotionally.
I Kinda like to think that each old thought of this “problem” as you are bring it (the thought of the problem) into the present like an anchor. Having to bring the thoughts (the anchor) of the past forward into the present. If we had no judgement on the issue, we would just move on, right? But, sometimes we instead carry the burdens of the past forward or we choose to be right versus happy and free. We love to blame things on others, it’s easy, their not there to speak the other side, so we talk about how THEY have affected our lives. It’s their fault. Of course, this gives our power away as now the problem can only get fixed if someones else does something. Good Luck on finding long term happiness when others actions determine your happiness! I get caught up on that one personally sometimes. Also, we can be often be just unconsciously stuck in negatively. I occasionally see people that seem to like stress and negativity over peacefulness, almost like an addiction, without being aware of it.
In situations like I’m describing are conscious, we know where the “problem” came from, however, there are also unconscious thoughts and beliefs that we have built up over the years that we are repeating. It’s like we are in a circle or whirlpool that can be difficult to get out of without a new way of looking or thinking about the problem. Sometimes these “circles” can last for a long time, a lifetime, dragging the negative energy of the past into your present moment. In my breath work, I see this all the time. Energy that is stuck from old issues, literally stored in the body, even though the “mind” thought it has cleared the problem. The breath is just one tool that can help move this.
Another simple one, is to focus on solutions. Forget the past (easier said than done with our egos), and just focus on what you need to do NOW………..I am not saying to suppress or not feel emotions. Expressing emotions are healthy, getting stuck in those, in my opinion, is not. My view is, let your emotions move and complete and move on. I believe that can start by just the focusing and thinking about the solution over and over. Solution, solution, solution……Just that shift in awareness alone is so powerful. Maybe it will take some small steps to get started towards an eventual solution. I believe ANY small step can get progress flowing in the right direction.
I have a friend that had some health issues in the past and I always admired how she refused to see herself as “sick”. She focused on the solutions to her “issues” even when it was and sometimes is challenging for her when solutions were foggy. Among other things, she is just repeating to herself, “I am healthy”, over and over, again and again. She continues to improve to this day even though doctors do not really know what’s “wrong” with her. Our thoughts and actions are so powerful!
Like anything else its a practice and my clients and myself find we just feel better when we focus on the solution.
This is from the “Daily OM” website. It certainly is great when relationship are balanced and I agree with the author of this that if a relationship is worth it, it is worth discussing unbalanced relationships. Most of us love to give and its healthy to receive as well. Also, no fun having to take someone’s energy “dump” all the time. I had a practice for a while that I would let close family and friends “dump” for just 5 minutes and anything else I set up another time that would be good for both of us to chat so I could have my energy up to handle the “dump”. Seems I don’t have to use this as much, but it really helped me have some boundaries for myself.
September 2, 2011
A Question of Balance
Relationships can become out of balance and one-sided if we don’t occasionally check in with each other.
One of the most beautiful qualities of an intimate relationship is the give and take of energy that occurs between two people. In the best-case scenario, both people share the talking and listening, and the giving and receiving of support, equally. Occasionally, within any relationship, the balance shifts and one person needs to listen more, or give more. Generally, over a long period of time, even this exception will take on a balanced rhythm; we all go through times when we take more and times when we give more.
However, there are also relationships in which the balance has always felt one-sided. You may have a friend whom you like, but you have begun to notice that the conversation is always about their life and their problems and never about yours. You may also have a friend who seems to require an inordinate amount of support from you but who is unable or unwilling to give much in return. Over time, these relationships can be draining and unsatisfying. One option is simply to end the relationship, or let it fade out naturally. Another option is to communicate to your friend that you would like to create a more equal balance in which your concerns also get some airtime. They may be taken aback at first, but if they are able to hear you, your friendship will become that much more sincere. They may even thank you for revealing a pattern that is probably sabotaging more than one relationship in their life.
A third option is to simply accept the relationship as it is. There are many one-sided relationships that actually work. One example of this is a mentor relationship in which you are learning from someone. Another example is a relationship in which you are helping someone who is sick, disabled, or otherwise needy. In these instances, you can simply be grateful that you are able to help and be helped, trusting that the balance of give and take will even out in the big picture of your life.