3 Questions to Help you Get Your Happiness On…

The Pursuit of Happiness….You Thought this Would be Easy?

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What does happiness mean to you? Is it having everything you want or does happiness live inside of something else like good health, good relationships, or goodness itself?

Maybe it should be called the pursuit of goodness?

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” Dalai Lama XIV

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see an article or a book or news report about the pursuit of happiness. It’s an epidemic of global proportions that everyone wants to be happy. We all go about finding our own happiness levels in various ways, ways that are as unique as our fingerprints. There are so many books written about happiness because each author has found his/her own slice of the happiness equation and has something to say about it. I have in my library 11 books on this specific genre and I’m sure I am not done yet and this doesn’t include articles I have found on the internet that I have saved in a folder somewhere or the countless quotes that I use to inspire me every day from my wallpaper.

I, like you, want to be happy. In his book, Happier, author and Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D, doesn’t waste much time in his writing to pinpoint what happiness means and what we instinctually need in order to be happy (page 33, 36).

“I define happiness as the ‘overall experience of pleasure and meaning.’ To be happy, we have to feel that, on the whole, whatever sorrows, trials, and tribulations we may encounter, we still experience the joy of being alive.”

Following that statement he then asks you to make a list of things, from trivial to meaningful, of all the things that provide you pleasure.

Here is my list in no particular order: Good food, meaningful friendships, feeling completely loved and cherished, reading, learning new things, a good night’s sleep, cooking and baking great tasting foods for my family and friends, taking great photographs, writing, walking, cycling, vacationing, hugging, family time, not working outside my home.

I’m sure there are many more items I could add to this list but this is a good start I think. In this list there are items that just exist to add to my peace of mind and overall happiness but there are also a lot of items that are experiencing items. The things we do that add to our happiness mostly come from the experience that created the feeling of happiness. In that experience lays meaning. In the experience and meaning is the action of the pursuit.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Guillaume Apollinaire

I’d like to take a moment and focus on one of the items I listed. I mentioned not working outside of my home. I have always been a home body. I can’t remember a time in my whole life where I didn’t get great pleasure from being home. I love to take vacations and see new places and experience new things but it’s the pleasure of being able to come home that allows me the freedom of spirit to go out into the world and fulfill those other needs. My life energy comes from the strength I get from where I call home.

I am in between jobs right now and to be quite honest, even though I know I have to go out to work and I am actively seeking new employment I am thoroughly enjoying being home, working with my coaching clients, writing my blog posts, taking classes at night, and taking care of my family and my home. In the spaces between not working for someone else and doing what I love doing as a coach, I volunteer. Where I can’t give to my family financially I give to those in need spiritually and organically. Volunteering is very spiritual for me because it gives me a sense of significance; it is important to me and is priceless in terms of helping to define my own pursuit of happiness. I truly believe that happiness is contagious and if I am happy then I am without fail going to be able to affect the happiness level of someone else. As the Buddha says, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Author Tal Ben-Shahar writes:

“We should also remember that going through difficult times augments our capacity for pleasure: it keeps us from taking pleasure for granted, reminds us to be grateful for all the large and small pleasures in our lives. Being grateful in this way can itself be a source of real meaning and pleasure.”

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” –James 1:2

Not everything about my working from home is perfect and happy all the time. We are struggling financially and have to face some really tough decisions in the very near future. I am also quite lonely sometimes while the house is that quiet for so many hours. I think it is an impossibility to appreciate the things that help us feel happy without the struggles of what makes us feel unhappy. The happiness level we reset ourselves to helps determine how we know when we are more happy or less happy than most days. Author and researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote in her book, The How of Happiness, that each of us is born with a happiness set point:

“It appears that each of us is born with a happiness set point, a characteristic potential for happiness throughout our lives. Although you may be temporarily ecstatic or miserable by what comes to pass, it seems that you can’t help eventually returning to your set point.”

“But just because your happiness set point cannot be changed doesn’t mean that your happiness level cannot be changed.”

I read a blog post recently in which the author writes about a course she took about miracles. She listed 3 miracles that we could practice every day but the one that really stood out for me was that “a miracle is a shift in perception.” I apply this idea to happiness.

Happiness is a shift in perception.

Getting truly, bitterly, vulnerably honest within ourselves is the first step toward happiness. By my truth of admitting how happy I feel working from home I am that much closer and in touch with all of the implications of that truth and of my happiness. If my perception of my own happiness is going to change for the better, here are some questions that will help get me there:

Are the things I am doing meaningful to me?

What is my mind telling me I should be doing differently with my time?

What is my heart telling me I must change?

What do I value most about myself and my life?

My children grew up hearing me constantly say to them to have patience and tolerance. It’s become such a repeated moniker that I now just say to them, “P & T honey, P & T.” This is a reminder and a reset of not only our perception of a situation but also of our heart because after all happiness lives and grows from the heart.

The other miracle that the author spoke about was to remember that infinite patience delivers immediate results. It sounds backwards but…. time becomes a non- issue.

For example, if you got a late start on your day it is not the fault of anyone you will come in contact with throughout your day.

Imagine this: you are at the grocery store and I don’t know about where you live but where I live our grocery store has 3 express check- out lanes as well as 6 self- check-out lanes. I don’t enjoy using self-check-out so I try to stay within the minimum grocery amount and use the express lane. Without fail each and every time I use the express lane I do not make it out the door in any express kind of way. I watch some of the longer regular grocery lanes and those larger orders in most cases are done long before I am even up to my turn. It is so easy to get frustrated and upset because if you are on express you truly are in some kind of hurry to get done quickly.

The next time this happens to you take a deep breath and remind yourself to have P & T and see how that works for you. Did it really matter that you were longer in the store than you wanted to be? How did time slip into oblivion because you decided to not let the long wait negatively affect you? Did you smile at the check-out employee even if you weren’t feeling a true smile? If so, how did that make the employee feel and how did you feel passing along that smile?

How we affect other people makes a great contribution to our happiness or unhappiness.

Hyrum W. Smith is not necessarily someone you might hear a lot about but he is a distinguished author, speaker and businessman. He is the co-founder and former CEO of Franklin Covey, Co., a global company specializing in helping organizations achieve results that require a change in human behavior through performance improvement. It may not sound very interesting to most of us but he has been quite successful in using his gift and wit and enthusiasm in the field of  perception and communications. This week I attended a live webinar about the idea of living happier. Mr. Smith was one of the speakers and gave me what I think is the most important 3 questions in determining each of our personal levels of happiness:

“Pain is inevitable, misery is optional.”

Is this something I have to do?  This is considered the lowest level of happiness. Feeling as if you have to do something puts you in a place of fear. If you are acting from a place of fear you have no chance of being or feeling happy unless fear is such an adrenaline rush that you thrive on its energy.

Is this something I ought to do? This is the medium or middle level of happiness. Feeling as if you ought to do something puts you in a place of duty. When you act out of a sense of duty you are more authentic to your happiness but there is still some fear residing inside. There is never anything wrong with doing the right thing so it’s not a bad place to be in action from.

Is this something I want to do?  This is the highest level of happiness. Feeling as if you want to do something puts you in a place of love. When you act from a place of love you are initiating happiness from within and spreading it outward with every move you make and every word you speak.

From my perspective of life being backward you would think that being happy was easy to achieve but in reality being happy is hard to achieve but it doesn’t have to be if we make a habit of pursuing happiness with perspective, patience, tolerance and heart. Let your life reflect your values in all that you do and happiness will not be hard to find and maintain.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Call to Action

Here are some small ways in which you can live happy today:

Send an encouraging, flattering or loving email to 5 people today, this minute, this week. The way they will feel after reading what you wrote will undoubtedly be passed along to everyone they come in contact with that day. You can change a life today by doing just that one thing.

Ask yourself, what went right today?

Keep a tally this week of all the times your actions fell into the 3 levels of happiness then figure out how you can move up the ladder to the highest level of happiness:

*What were your have to’s?

*What were your ought to’s?

*What were your want to’s?

Please share with me how this action agenda has helped you. I love to hear your feedback.

Story Time

Story Time

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“What you do may seem insignificant, but it’s important that you do it.” –Mahatma Gandhi

There was a little boy walking the beach and he noticed many starfish scattered all along the shore line. They were all still alive but he knew that if they didn’t get back into the water soon they would all start to die. Carefully and gently he started to pick up each starfish and put them back into the water.

After quite a while an old man came walking along the beach and stopped to notice what the boy was doing. He watched him for a time and finally went up to the boy and asked, “There are millions of starfish throughout this vast ocean, why are you bothering to put those starfish back into the water? “

The boy did not answer at first and kept putting the starfish back into the water. Finally, he held one of the starfish in his hand and he said to the man, “I do it because it might matter to this one starfish.”

“You will always feel insignificant if you never do anything to change the world or another person’s life, other than your own.” Shannon L. Alder

The dictionary defines insignificance as littleness, of no consequence, null, inconsequential.

Each one of us has a unique human print and for that matter each living organism has a unique organism print. There is no one like us in the world and yet we all go through struggles of insignificance many times throughout our lives. We are like the starfish on that beach and at times we each want and need someone to care so much and help set us right again and give us the hope and the chance to feel acknowledged and significant.

We are made weak by moments in life that bring us low or in the case of our starfish that bring us to an unfamiliar shoreline out of our normal element.

It is written in the bible (Corinthians 2, 12:10), “For when I am weak, than am I strong.” For some of us when we are feeling insignificant we look deep within and try to find self-worth but what we find is that we are really in need of a helping hand. In our weakness we become humbled and in our unique way ask for help. In the asking and in the weakness of our feeling of insignificance is where our strength lies. The asking and the weakness is really hope and possibility desiring to flourish. Whether you ask for help from G-d, a trusted friend or colleague, a husband, a wife or a child the lowliness makes us stronger and more compassionate because once feelings and emotions become known they leave a footprint on our souls and in our hearts that won’t ever go away.

To the boy in this story those starfish were not insignificant or invisible or worthless. They were in need and could only ask for help in their unique way by being their brilliant starfish selves and G-d sent the one person who could recognize their beauty and uniqueness and give the starfish the acknowledgment they deserved; their significance.

Sure, some starfish might wash back up on shore not believing in their worthiness but most will seize their moment and live their life as only each one of them can.

“To realize that everything in the universe is connected is to both accept our insignificance and understand our importance in it.” Jeffrey Fry

This quote got me to thinking about the purpose of a starfish or Sea star. In doing a bit of research I learned that starfish protect a certain kind of other fish by eating algae and starfish are great at decomposition. Did you know that starfish can regenerate their arms? If they are under attack they can detach the arm being pulled at and escape their attacker. It would take about a year to regrow the entire arm length but they have the ability to do that miraculous thing. Could it be then that starfish are here not only to be beautiful and help keep our oceans clean but to provide research into regeneration of limbs? What a miracle that would be.

What are your unique attributes? What makes you significant? Here are a few ways to find out:

Define who you are: Write down all the things you know for sure about yourself. Get real and above all be honest, then test what you think you know by taking a personality test online. Personality tests are a great aid. Sites like Personality41Q  or Humanmetrics or Personalitypathways. Learn about yourself through samplings of sites like these and get a clear picture of who you are and who you want to be.

Learn as you grow: There are things you may know for sure about yourself and the values that you live by but always be open to learning more about who you are. Your significance to the world around you is that you can always try to improve as you grow. Who you are today is not completely going to be who you are in 10 years from now so allow for room to grow and learn and evolve. Try not to stay stuck in old ways of thinking and being.

“Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.” Aristotle

The past is the past: When you are ready, let what happened in the past live in the past. Your significance plays strong when you can let a painful or hurtful moment of your life have its day in the sun and then die away, never to live long enough to define you. Everyone has a past and everyone has a mountain of memories labeled “my history”. Try not to let your history repeat itself or define who you are growing to be.

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

Comparison shopping is a no-no: Comparing yourself to someone else only hurts you every time. Your significance can’t be noticed if you are trying to be like someone else. Sure, you can like certain things about all kinds of people but putting those pieces together to create who you want to be, trying it on for size, that’s where it’s at.

“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world…if you do so, you are insulting yourself.” Bill Gates

Treat others as you treat yourself: Your significance is in your authenticity, always and your authenticity is who G-d wanted you to be all along. Treat everyone and everything with the same respect you treat yourself. Use the same morals, values and ethics and your authenticity will shine.

“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” Confucius, Sayings of Confucius

Dump and recycle days: Allow for some days to really stink. Not every day can be good but we can find a bit of good in every day. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t quite stick to your plan or value code. Know where you went wrong and make tomorrow a better day because of what you’ve learned.

“Yesterday was not your defining moment. The calendar moved forward; why not you?” Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

For me the message is, you are one among many. Return to the world all that you are. Learn and acknowledge your uniqueness and significance. Be humbled when someone acknowledges you and notice how insignificance fades and your inner spirit is born anew.

“Tiny-perhaps.” Rovender kept his eyes fixed on the rings. “Insignificant-never, Eva Nine. No living thing is insignificant.” Tony DiTerlizzi, The Search for WondLa

Call To Action

At what times in your life have you felt insignificant?

Who helped you?

How are you humbled in weakness?

What is one thing you can do right now to start feeling your significance?

Image courtesy of bing.com/gambassa.com

7 Strategies Toward a Decided Heart

 

 

 

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“A dream is not just a wish your heart makes.  It is the hope that God places inside your heart to believe in what may seem impossible to accomplish, but in fact is completely obtainable.” – Shonna Stallworth

And so began Matthew’s personal journey to find his life. Only 3 shortish long months into his journey and already the path he thought he set himself on has altered completely and he now finds that he has to start all over again, from scratch, setting out a new course but trying to keep to the integrity of his decided heart. Oh how life twists and turns and messes with our plans. But I believe that life’s destiny is about facing life with a decided heart which is embedded with courage.

“Struggle is proof that you haven’t been conquered, that you refuse to surrender, that victory is still possible, and that you’re growing.” Jon Walden

What is destiny? The dictionary defines destiny as a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency; something that happens or will be experienced in the future.

Are you living your destiny right this second? This moment right now is the present and the future of where you were and you don’t know for sure if there will be more of a future for you. So if you are living your destiny right this minute are you happy, satisfied, excited, and energized?

Is there a way to harness destiny? In other words, should we stay the course with rigidity or should we be flexible to the changes?

I’ve always believed that flexibility has its merits. Being stuck and rigid to one plan or ideal can cause more harm than good but it also shows perseverance and determination. Can your mantra, your credo, your personal life code be rigid and yet flexible within?

In his book, The Traveler’s Gift, author Andy Andrews talks about 7 decisions for determining personal success. He lists these decisions as a code of ethics, as armor toward his destiny. Take a look:

  1. The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future.
  2. I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others.
  3. I am a person of action. I seize this moment. I choose now.
  4. I have a decide heart. My destiny is assured.
  5. Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful heart.
  6. I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself.
  7. I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith.

The thing that strikes me most severely is Mr. Andrew’s passion and determined presence in these 7 decisions. He sets his destiny within the decisions his heart makes. I feel the power of his convictions in each one of them and I am moved to believe without a doubt that he will meet with great success toward his destiny. The pathway to his destiny will, however, be tried and tested and so will his 7 decisions. The trick is to approach his future with passion and stability in his decided heart but make friends with the flexibility life will require of him. Once you know where your heart stands the devil then is in the details.

Matthew has a decided heart. He knows where he wants to make his life happen. He is staying open and flexible within his heart in order to live these 7 decisions. He has already come up with a possible plan should this new pathway on his journey not work out quite like he is imaging. To me this means he has already learned that what he set out to accomplish may take a whole lot longer than he hoped it would because one just never know what fate has in store. The big lesson here is to remain determined to see this journey through and to learn as much as he can along the way.

I am so jealous and so inspired. I am jealous because I have yet to master the flexibility aspect to my satisfaction and I sometimes feel stuck in the events of the past. I feel inspired because he is like a jumping bean moving to the rhythm of his decided heart and adjusting for curves along his destiny’s path. This is the year of my battle with indecision. I have a deep, yearning pull deep within my core to have a decided heart but to decide so many important things about which direction my life should go has left me standing still. Some things have been decided for me. As I have learned if you don’t decide, that itself is a decision which yields ugly outcomes. Some things are still hanging in the air, blowing in the wind, and waiting for me to attend to it.

Getting in touch with the truth of who I want to be now, how I want to live my life now, and what influences I want in my life now are really tough decisions to make. Some people call this a mid-life crisis. I call it lunacy. I was so happy living in the fantasy of existing in someone else’s life. I was a mom full time and caught up, lovingly and wholeheartedly in raising my children to be able to do exactly what Matthew is doing. I should feel so proud and I do, truly I do, but I never imagined how lonely and lost I would feel when the kids all grew up and spread their wings. I have had many incarnations of myself throughout the motherhood phase of my life but now I really need to hone in on what exactly I want to absolutely dedicate my time and energy toward.

“No matter what your history has been, your destiny is what you create today. What are you going to create?” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

If every decade has the potential to be a new incarnation, a chance to write a new and exciting chapter of who I am evolving toward then this decided heart thing should be fun not anguishing. 

And so it begins. I give myself permission to create a decided heart around a lot of emotional topics like my marriage, my career, my financial future, my home, my family, etc. I am not the kind of person that can cross the street without looking both ways. I just can’t leave it up to fate to determine whether I make it across safely. I think things through to such a degree that I make more choices for myself than need be and that is where I get stuck. Some people see the world and their decisions as black and white but I see all shades of gray and have a hard time choosing which shade feels the most authentic.

The question then becomes how can I create my own destiny and therefore a decided heart? Here is what I’ve learned so far…

  1. See your future. Silly right? If you can build it, it will come. Build the image of the future you want and plan every step along the way as best you can but allow for divots. Life will always create a sinkhole somewhere but instead of seeing that sinkhole as a problem see it as part of your destined path. What will you fill them in with?
  2. Get real. You can play a really amazing game of baseball but truly, will you become a pro athlete on a team for the MLB association? Know your limits and strengths and play to them always. Stay authentic and relevant so that you don’t waste too much time getting lost in fantasy.
  3. Know your why. Knowing right from the beginning why you are in pursuit of your destiny will help determine who you want to see yourself becoming and what the purpose of your destiny really is. Defining your why will enable you to streamline your energy, focus, values and ethics.
  4. Source it out. Don’t always think old school when creating ways to get where you want to go. You may not be in the know about new resources and how they work but don’t let that stop you. Part of your destiny is to learn, learn and then learn some more.
  5. Enlist your tribe. There will be those people that want to and feel compelled to tear down what you are trying to achieve but don’t listen. Most likely they are jealous because they lost momentum along their destiny’s path and haven’t been able to get it back. Use constructive criticism to your advantage. Seek out those people that know more than you so that you can grow and gain insight into your journey.
  6. HARD is not a four letter word. Adjust for rough roads. Those rough roads are the nitty-gritty of your destiny’s journey. The grit is what makes the hard work worth it in the end. Let hard work be your friend and ally. If there is no sweat or tears then it wasn’t worth pursuing in the first place. Nothing that comes easy ever has a really great story attached to it.
  7. Eat your way to the top. Always be mindful of your health. Know your energy limits and eat when you are hungry. Your journey depends on you actually getting to the end of it alive and well.

Please visit this list for more destiny to- do’s.

When all is said and done destiny is very much like the chaos theory or the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect simply means that the tiniest influence on one part of a system or plan can have a huge effect on another part down the road. Your destiny will have details to it that will undoubtedly impact your preconceived outcome and will also then affect someone along the way. It did for me when Matthew decided to take his destiny in his own hands and it did for him when one small fluctuation changed everything. It wasn’t just the act itself that impacted me as his mom but the way in which he lets his heart decide his next steps when the butterfly affects his plans.

Call to Action 

“Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.” – Chris Hadfield

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

10 Times Gratitude Annihilates Entitlement

 

 

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“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

What is up with entitlement? Why do so many children and teenagers feel entitled to stuff like trophies of accomplishment in sports without much effort put into it or a student allowed to not do homework because the parent complained and said it was too much? Why do kids and adults feel deserving of good grades and accolades if they didn’t sweat through the hard part of a study session or project? Why do teenagers feel that doing something for someone has to be a chore or a high school graduation requirement in order for it to get done at all?

Let’s take a deeper look.

Entitlement is defined as the condition of having a right to have, do or get something; the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something. The only right that human beings have is the right to stay alive. How they do that is up to them.

Here is a small but powerful example:

My youngest has just graduated from high school. To hear him talk about his entire school career you would think he was imprisoned for the first 18 years of his life for a crime he didn’t commit and has finally made parole. He is taking time off from school and academics and is going to try his hand at working for a while. He feels he deserves to have money but not necessarily because he earned it. He just thinks that because he needs money for something he should just be given the money.

Here it comes…..ready? He refuses to look for a job or take any job that pays minimum wage.

Wait, what? “You come from a middle class, hard-working family with not one ounce of a sense of entitlement ever shown to you. You grew up with the philosophy that anything you want badly enough is worth working hard for.” How can it be that he feels it beneath him to work for minimum wage when he has absolutely no expenses weighing him down ( that could be entitlement, I’ll have to really think about that one), no working world experiences to offer any employer and not even a decent enough education to see him through? And let me just say, he is not alone. He has a graduating class full of peers that feel the exact same way.

Where did this come from?

So, ok, I can almost kinda, sorta sense a reason for such a statement (and I’m not really reaching too deep to find this). It costs a whole lot more to be a teenager these days than it did when it was my turn. I know, my parents said the same thing but truly, our cost of living is not slightly left of center it is on another planet.

Just look at how much 2 movie tickets cost now, forget the fact that we have IMAX. For $20 my husband and I not only saw a movie but we put gas in the car that same night and went for ice cream or a burger and fries at the diner. Not so much now. And there is the new reality of a depressed economy that is just about shutting out the teenagers from getting any kind of start-up job because so many late twenties through eighties adults need the jobs to pay the real bills so I suppose you could argue the point of how is he supposed to get money if he can’t even get a job. But that’s where I draw my sympathetic line in the sand. Just like we all had to work for the money to joy ride and live it up so does he. Although life costs a crazy amount to live and breathe now there are also waaaayyyy more income options than when I was a teenager.

“Sometimes I just want to paint the words “It’s my fault” across my forehead to save people the time of being pissed off at me.” Christina Westover

This is what I do best. I blame myself for all the failings of my children. Somehow, some way, I must have showed him that it’s okay to skip a step in his evolution but I can’t for the life of me figure out how I did that. Okay, is it possible it wasn’t entirely my fault? He didn’t grow up strictly under my roof. He was influenced by the outside world; TV, music lyrics, peers, and oh yeah, those trophies awarded to all the team members just for showing up regardless of if they played or how they played. Silly, that something seemingly so trivial and touted as “fair” could wreak such havoc on the growing and developing psyche.

What was there to strive for anyway, everyone was getting a trophy and going to hear their name announced. He’d get his 15 seconds of fame for every team he played on and for every year he played. Oh but wait, when he got to high school not everyone got a trophy, suddenly not everyone got in the spot light unless they did something news worthy (good or bad). Oh man, now he had to actually work hard for something. As the reality started settling in he withdrew instead of standing tall and decided, sadly, nothing was worth that much effort. No matter how often we all rallied and tried to show him all the gifts he was blessed with he turned away. He turned away from family, away from his core of peers and coaches and teachers, away from himself. Academics were too hard to work through so he did as little as possible. He actually chose the school of hard knocks and manifested the two things he felt entitled not to put up with, minimum wage and a hard life. When this truly becomes his past I hope he remembers it as a lesson learned toward inner strength, not regret.

All I can do and have been doing is pray for him and hope that not only by me remaining an example but that one day he will understand that all the power he ever needed has been inside of him all along.

How can he and kids like him begin to turn things around?

“Those who have the ability to be grateful are the ones who have the ability to achieve greatness.” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

What does gratitude feel like? It feels good. Good feels gratifying. Good feels like giving and grace.

Gratitude doesn’t feel like entitlement (a sense that everything should be coming to you without effort on your part). Gratitude doesn’t feel like anger or responsibility or indifference. Gratitude doesn’t feel deserving and it kicks butt to just about every negative that exists.

So if gratitude can annihilate entitlement how does someone go about cultivating, practicing and making gratitude a key player in their life? According to Dr. Robert Emmons and his awesome book, THANKS!, he outlines his top 10 practices toward leading a life of gratitude (pg. 189). I’d like to share my take with you on what he outlines:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. This can be in any form you can create. You can journal in words, in cut out pictures or photographs or drawings that help you remember what you saw that sparked gratitude. This can be written in a formal bound book or you can create your own kind of personal journal book. Dr. Emmons says, “What is most important is to establish the daily habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events.” My daughter loves to take pictures with her camera phone. She chronicles the best moments of each month and saves the pictures by the month. When she looks back she is able to see all the best of her life moments that she is grateful for having experienced. How awesome is that?!
  2. Remember the bad stuff. In looking at our story earlier we can see how a person with a negative perspective about their past would want to forget what happened but by remembering the bad and practicing gratitude the negative story can be mined for grateful experiences that propel good feelings going forward. Should we experience bad feelings or circumstances again it will help us to remember what we don’t want to go through and seek ways to make this bad experience not as lousy as before.
  3. Look inside yourself. Dr. Emmons suggests asking yourself 3 questions to help keep you grounded in gratitude seeking keeping in mind that this kind of inner searching helps us to always be aware that we are part of our gratitude and the gratitude we can affect in others. In other words, we are part of the solution to our own problem:

What have I learned from________________________________.

What have I given to ____________________________________.

What troubles and difficulty have I caused___________________.

       4.  Prayers of gratitude. This might be uncomfortable for some people but as someone who ends every day with prayers of gratitude I can attest that not only does it help make a bad day better upon reflection but it helps set up a better day to come. I often find myself in tears while speaking of the things I am grateful for, not realizing just how much it affected me to have gone through whatever experience the day brought. Your soul has needs just like your physical body and that spirit needs the intimacy of prayer and accountability. If you find it hard to pray or hard to find what to be grateful for you might like to just pray for the ability to recognize what to be grateful for. No rules, your heart and your words are all that matter.

         5. Sense it. Take notice of each of your senses. Think about each one as you contemplate your gratitude for each one Dr. Emmons says, “Through our senses, we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human, of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive.” If your senses are not enough incentive please visit the website of Nick Vujicic. You will instantly learn exactly all that you have to be thankful and grateful for.

        6. Display it. All around you are reminders of what you are grateful for if you take the time to notice. Why not bring it home to you every day. Here Dr. Emmons remarks that “We cannot be thankful for something of which we are unaware. Therefore, we need to remind ourselves and to become aware.”

       7. Swear to it. Make a vow either to the universe, G-d or a treasured friend or partner that you will consciously include gratitude in your life every day. Dr. Emmons says, “A vow, when made before others, constitutes a public pronouncement of an intention. Breaking a vow thereby becomes a profound moral failure.” Keep it simple. For example: I vow to express gratitude to someone who has been influential in my life.

      8. Say just what you mean. How you say something or describe something is a mirror to how you see and interpret your life and your surroundings. Using the right language and emotion can take a day that was just all right all the way up to a day that was so blessed.

    9. Ape it. According to Dr. Emmons, “when people mimicked the facial expressions associated with happiness, they felt happier. Going through the motions can trigger the emotion.” Even if you force the smile or the happier attitude one feeds the other.

   10. Get creative. In my twisted mind I truly believe that life is backwards. Things that we think should be a result of something often times are just the opposite. In that light get creative in what you are grateful for. The guy that cut you off on the highway for example. Why ever would you be grateful for that? Well, you aren’t feeling as high strung as he is and that is to be grateful for. How about you didn’t get hurt by his knucklehead move. You are fine and the car is fine and if the kids are with you the kids are fine. Think about what you might not look at as something to be thankful for and find the silver lining. It’s deep and it’s so amazing to see something you couldn’t see before by practicing gratitude. And as always remember to pay it forward.

And just in case gratitude didn’t quite do it for you there is always humility.

Call to Action

In what ways can you bring gratitude into your life more?

Where have you noticed a sense of deserving or entitlement in your day to day?

When was the last time you were brought to your knees through feeling grateful and humble?

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Essentials for Thinking Like a Child

 

fake it 001

“Would the child you were yesterday admire the person you are today? If not, adjust for desired results.” Ziad K. Abdelnour, Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics

When a child is born there is an immediate and uncontrollable feeling of awe and wonder and reverence toward some higher power, maybe it is G-d for you, that here in this tiny package of humanity is this amazing miracle of life.

As adults we treasure this miracle and we dote on this miracle and we do all we can to feed the spirit of this miracle as it grows. We take possession without realizing that we possess but at some point all too quickly the child becomes its own person.

Once the identity of the child starts to come through we see in this miracle the only word that can describe a child, determination.  A child’s determination says, “there is only right now in this moment and this is what I want to do, accomplish, conquer, master, overcome, make happen so watch this….”.

So what happens along the path of growth that stunts the natural sense of determination and turns this miracle into a human of sorrow, self-doubt, limitedness, and negativity and how in the world can each of us humans get it back for keeps?

 “Children see magic because they look for it.”Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Every day to a child is like a first day. Every day is filled with new discoveries, new awareness, and new abilities and with each new thing a child can do the child wants to shout to the world, “hey ma, look what I can do” or “look what I just did.” It’s almost as if the child performed the greatest magic trick ever.

Do adults lose their magical abilities because no one is watching or cares to watch anymore? Oh sure, some adults have the ability to see magic throughout their whole lives, just look at Walter Disney, but it’s more than just seeing magic, it’s also feeling magic and feeling that all things are possible and never being influenced otherwise. When did it become childish to let magic into your adult life?

I remember working in a middle school with kids who got sent to detention a lot . Although it was the policy of the school to make the detention room as somber and negative as possible so that the kids would not want to go back there ever again, I couldn’t help but make the room scream of possibilities and dreams and jokes and riddles and hope. Does that make me a rebel? I don’t think so. I just can’t help imagining what it must be like to have to deal with the thought of feeling like a failure and not knowing what to do with that feeling except to be angry, all the time. I pray I created hope and possibilities for these kids to be able to see beyond the anger they were feeling.

Sometimes as adults we look at children and think to ourselves what can children teach us that we don’t already know now that we are the adults; I mean we’re adults, so we have already been where they are, right? The one thing that keeps coming back to me is that a child can teach us to see what a child sees and what a child hears and the unrelenting, untouched, uncomplicated thoughts of a pure mind on the verge of innocence lost. Sometime it is essential to stop and listen to the words of children:

There is a really good reason why we start out helpless and small and unknowing; so that adults can be reminded of the freedom, joy, un-limitedness of who they used to hope to be when they grew up. I believe children know more than adults do. They are pure, untainted entities that embody every possible person they want to become and they don’t care who knows it or what they each look like exploring all those magical possibilities.

 “I wept because I was re-experiencing the enthusiasm of my childhood; I was once again a child, and nothing in the world could cause me harm.”Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

It’s not rocket science to imagine all the ways in which we can re-capture our innocence and feelings of being a child but just in case your mind is stuffed full of adult mumbo jumbo here is a little list of ideas that just might take you out of the limitedness of adulthood and open the imagination doors of the child’s soul inside of you:

    1. Take the blame with “relish”. As a child you gladly took responsibility for your actions anytime you did something you thought was justified or amazing or fun. Harness that positive energy of owning your actions by finding all kinds of ways to take responsibility for your actions as a grown-up. Only do those things that will leave you feeling proud to own up to something.
    2. Be Dramatic. Sure you might have thrown a temper tantrum or 2 when you were feeling out of control as a kid or feeling like no one was listening. (Perhaps you didn’t but wished you could). It was dramatic to live in your imagination and to act out as a kid. How can you use that dramatic flair of yours to make a point, to get ahead, to add spice to your days? Use your imagination and create that dramatic magic that is still living inside of you.
    3. Ask why as often as you can. How many questions do you ask in a day? Children ask questions constantly because they are not afraid of sounding ignorant. They use the information like Popeye uses spinach. Information empowers them and enables them and strengthens them. As adults we hide our questions for fear of being stared at by everyone in the room or fear of sounding ignorant. Drop the fear, ask the questions. There are no stupid questions. The question not asked is the key not found that could open all the other doors.
    4. Be the cardboard box. According to an article written by Chelsea Greenwood of the website, http://www.success.com/article/think-like-a-child, Alison Gopnik, a professor of philosophy at UC, Berkeley says, “children are designed by evolution to be extremely good learners. They are the research and development division of the human species, and adults are the production and marketing.” How amazing would it be if a simple cardboard box really was the answer to all boredom and limitedness of the adult mind? Get out of the cardboard box adulthood put you into and make something magical happen with it once you are on the outside.
    5. Be relentless. How often do you take your kids to a store to discover that you didn’t even make it passed the welcome sign and you realize you are already counting to 10 just waiting to hear them say, “mom, can we get this”, or “mom, can I get that toy”. They don’t take no for an answer. My youngest has learned a great skill over his short little life, the art of the negotiation. Sometimes when I am feeling weak and overrun I call it manipulation or in today’s terms, bullying, but the truth is he has learned how to negotiate to get what he wants. How many times during the day do you hear the word no when presenting an idea or asking for approval on a project or for a raise? Be relentless in your wants. You believe in what you are seeking so keep seeking until you get that yes. No is not an option.
    6. Be in awe. Too often as adults we are tainted and narrowed by all that we have seen and learned and we choose to put blinders on to all else except what we want to learn and choose to see. Take the blinders off, step way back and be in awe of everything around you. Be the sponge, be the clean slate, be the child that is fascinated with all things unknown and big. Get down on your knees if you have to and look around, look up, look down and change your perspective.

      7. Play : Where did recess go? Public schools hardly encourage recess anymore for fear it will interfere with test taking. The adults of tomorrow are not going to have much to fall back on when they need to harness their imagination because imagination time is being sucked out of their learning. Chelsea Greenwood takes a page from author, speaker and futurist, Jack Uldrich and quotes, “play allows people to practice skills they might need later down the line. Play has consistently been found to reduce stress, increase energy levels, and brighten people’s outlook, increase optimism, and foster creativity.” Start or join the company sports league, start a chess group, bring your guitar to the office and serenade your co-workers during lunch. Play your heart out!

8. Laugh Your Ass Off:: I’m sure you’ve heard this statistic, that children laugh an average of 400 times per day whereas an adult laughs an average of 15 times per day and I must say that the number 15 seems a bit high to me. Have you heard a child laugh lately? You need to because you are missing out on the most out of control, smile inducing, free spirited moment of life, ever. On the website,  http://velutions.com/prankbaskets/zLaughter.htm, it lists several reasons to laugh each day such as “laughter is the best medicine”, not only for adults but for children too. Laughter is good for oxygen intake, reduction of stress, is good exercise, and among many other things is a great bonding mechanism and best of all laughter cuts across all language barriers. Everyone speaks laughter. If you want to learn more about how laughter can increase work flow and be a positive influence at the office please consider reading The Levity Effect by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. If you want to make something contagious, laugh.

It all comes down to this: Kids don’t know to be hard on themselves. They like who they are and they should. Take a page from your own story when you were a kid and BE PROUD OF YOU. Celebrate like the child you still are. That child’s soul is still in there. The only difference is the body got bigger and then therefore so did the expectations. My son was born to a family of average height people. He is 6’2”, which is no big deal except in our family and he always saw his height as a negative. He likes it now, mostly because he can look down on his dad, but he tried to walk smaller and behave smaller because people outside of his family always expected more from him thinking that he was older than his actual age due to his height. That added expectation played havoc on his psyche no matter how we tried to celebrate his individualism. He needed time to grow into all of himself, inside and out, and for the most part so far he has become proud of what he was given and who he is becoming.

Now, repeat after me:

 “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”Edward Everett Hale

It was only you that day when you pulled yourself up from the floor to take your first step. It was only you the moment you climbed those stairs for the first time. It was only you the instant you went from not balancing very well on the bicycle to riding like you were born to ride. It was only you when the puzzle got solved by the thoughts you applied and then made the connection that opened a world of possibilities for more.

Oh, if only we didn’t have to lose so much of the soul of the child inside of us when we grow up. I leave you with this amazing poem by an utterly amazing and talented author who never forgot the child inside, and I wonder: Would any of this poem work for any adult? Perhaps we should take a chance on one of these ideas and just go outside and play, even if it isn’t Saturday…..

“I cannot go to school today”

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

“I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

 My mouth is wet,

my throat is dry.

I’m going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox.

And there’s one more -

that’s seventeen,

And don’t you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut,

my eyes are blue,

It might be the instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,

I’m sure that my left leg is broke.

My hip hurts when I move my chin,

My belly button’s caving in.

My back is wrenched,

my ankle’s sprained,

My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.

My toes are cold,

my toes are numb,

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff,

my voice is weak,

I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow’s bent,

my spine ain’t straight,

My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk,

I cannot hear,

There’s a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail,

and my heart is …

What? What’s that? What’s that you say?

You say today is ………….. Saturday? G’bye, I’m going out to play!”  –Shel Silverstein

 

Call to Action

GO PLAY!!! Find that inner child and kick ass!!

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

Feeling Diminished in Your Integrity? 5 Ways to Help You Hold On

 

 

willoworig

“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Funny how this pussy willow will never be anything other than what it is meant to be. It’s integrity is in tact and therefore we can count on it to be just as it promised. I like that. Where is your integrity?

What happens when someone you thought was a person of integrity turns out to be someone you instantly learn you cannot trust has no ethical values and doesn’t honor truth?

That is what happened to me recently and it left me with an abandoned, hollow feeling in my gut and in my consciousness. Does this mean that I should put up defenses to everyone in my life? No. It just means that this person I trusted I can no longer trust. Should I stop trusting everyone? No. Each of deserves a chance to start with an “A” and it is up to us to lose that rating.

As a life coach I ask myself how I can affect a moral, ethical mindset if I want to keep this friendship, relationship, workmanship. The quick answer is I can’t. The longer and more introspective answer is to live with integrity myself, always, and be the example. In coaching we call this “walking the walk”.

What is integrity?

Integrity: Adherence to moral and ethical principles; honesty; the state of being whole, undiminished; honorable.

Honor: fairness, distinction, respect, esteem from others and for others.

Grit: firmness of character, pluck, spirit.

“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I love that the word grit lives inside of the word integrity. Grit is hard and specific and energetic and purposeful.  Grit demands hard work and mindfulness. There are no fuzzy lines when grit takes hold of your spirit and actions. If you are by nature a moral, ethical, open-hearted person then integrity and grit are part of your core values. And so is honesty. I don’t think integrity can exist without honesty.

Do you know when you lie or are being dishonest?

Last week there was a story on http://www.today.com/health/woman-journey-quit-lying-1D80070855 about Diane Kaplan, a reporter who challenged herself to tell the truth in every kind of conversation every day. It has now been 2 years and she is still telling the truth.

It wasn’t an intentional decision. I’ve always been a literal person, often to a fault; if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it, even if it no longer serves my interests. The reality of doing this (experiment) is that it changes you internally as well. It’s tough to put into words except to say that you feel more pure. You start to like yourself more. You are effectively telling yourself that your actions are motivated by good values.” 

Embellishing and “white” lies are 2 forms of lying and dishonesty and both of those words, when played out mean that you are not living with integrity. I used to embellish when I would re-tell a story simply because by doing so it added “meat” to the story and kept people riveted to what I was saying but I must admit that it didn’t feel very good. I’ve practiced at being more aware of when I feel the need to embellish and for years now I simply tell a story as is, no fancy stuff. Admittedly the story lacks something when told flat out unless something absolutely shocking happened but it’s okay because at least I have lived through something and now have a story to tell.

“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

On the website, http://www.theartofmanliness.com, writers Brett and Kate McKay discuss, in their 4 part series, what it takes to live a life of integrity:

“When a great man falls from grace, we often wonder how he could have ever messed up so royally. The truth is that he didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit an egregious blunder. It started with a little fudging here, a tiny bit of lying there; from there he just kept on sliding down the slippery slope of compromise. Don’t compromise on the little things, and you won’t on the bigger ones.”

So, what are some examples of situations where you find you are feeling diminished or a drain on your integrity? Brett and Kate say:

“Every day we are faced with little decisions that reflect on our integrity.What’s okay to call a business expense or put on the company charge card? Is it really so bad to stretch the truth a little on your resume in order to land your dream job? Is it wrong to do a little casual flirting when your girlfriend isn’t around? If you’ve missed a lot of class, can you tell your professor a family member died? Is it bad to call in sick to work (or to the social/family function you’re dreading) when you’re hung over? Is it okay to pirate movies or use ad block when surfing the web?”

While writing this short post I thought about how I don’t live with the integrity I want to live with. I find that I behave with integrity in most of my life but when it comes to standing up and speaking for myself I am lacking. I allow other people to speak for me in some very important situations. Because of this I find that my goals truly are hard to reach. Just as a side note, yes, I have called in sick to work even though I wasn’t sick. I think the mindset that gets us off the hook for that phone call is called “taking a mental health day.” How we justify our lack of personal integrity is also something to be aware of.

In the face of all of this information now weighing heavily on your conscience (sorry, but I had to write this article), what are some things you can do to start to live a life of integrity?

  1. Along the lines of a pro/con list or a moral code of ethics, create an integrity list or integrity code. Things you will absolutely not do and absolutely will do that honors yourself, others and your ethical and moral veracity. Display this list like you would the Ten Commandments, in a place that you will see it every day.
  2. Where do your personal values live? Finding out your values will act as a guide in helping you stay the course of a life of integrity, honesty, and authenticity.
  3. Get down and dirty. If ever you could practice honesty this is the place, right here, right this minute. Be as honest with yourself as you can be and highlight the areas in your life where you are not living with integrity. Everything about your life and your values starts within you so get to your truth and start to become who you want to see yourself to be.
  4. As the old adage goes, “Tell the truth so that you don’t have to remember what you said.”
  5. Wear your integrity badge of honor for all to see. Just like tying a piece of string to your finger to remind you of something you shouldn’t forget, wear something every day that reminds you of your integrity code.

Is there hope for us mere mortals? There is no such thing as perfect. The best we can hope for is perfectly imperfect with a side of trying like hell. So if you are feeling as if integrity is just too hard to handle here is what Brett and Kate advise:

“Obviously, not everyone who makes one bad choice ends up morally depraved and utterly crooked. Many of us are able to make a single mistake, or even several, but then get back on track again. This is because various conditions not only make it more or less likely that we’ll make that first dishonest decision, but also increase or decrease our chances of turning ourselves around once we start down an unethical road.”

My interpretation of this last statement: Practice makes almost perfect.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Call To Action: Be honest now…..

How do you tend to embellish when you tell a story? Where is the trigger point?

What does it mean to you to have integrity?

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Who do you want to see?

In what ways are you a 24/7 honest person? Where else can you improve?

How are you someone others can count on without question or hesitation?

What other ways can you live a life filled with integrity? Please feel free to add to my list; oh and do let me know how you are doing. We can all learn from each other’s successes.

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

Help Wanted

Needed

 

“One day, I decided to help wherever I could, & it was almost like magic because I was exactly what the world needed everywhere I went. Step right up!!”

“Five truly effective prescriptions to remedy a bad day: (You can’t overdose.)

—Pray; discuss your troubles with God.

—List your blessings. (The blue sky, soft cookies, warm socks, etc.)

—Call your mom.

—Visit an animal shelter and hug a lonely cat.

—Visit a nursing home and hug a lonely grandparent.”

Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year

I just absolutely LOVE this website: www.storypeople.com

Brian Andreas is such a creative, inspiring and talented person.

I love this particular post because I relate to it so much. Whenever I am having a day that is off the rails or I feel lost or detached or things seem to be going all wrong I try to do at least one good thing for someone else and instantly my bad day is conquered.

 All of us can do and be more powerful and empowering just by giving of ourselves toward the betterment of someone else.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Call to Action

What else can you add to the list above?

What was the one thing you did for someone else that you instantly knew made a fabulous difference?

In what ways do you notice your mood getting better because you helped someone?

Journey On and be needed………

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

7 Silent Steps toward Resilience

 

Resilient

“Your habit of avoiding mental and emotional discomfort is your #1 reason for your being stuck where you are in life.” Tony Dovale

Doesn’t it just cut you like a knife when you find words that hold up a mirror to the uncomfortable truth of you? How do you resolve to come to terms with that inner truth and change it if you don’t like what you see?http://journeyoncoaching.com/2014/01/30/aaaaaand-action/

I find comfort and hope in the word resilience. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; to show mental and physical toughness; the ability to spring back into shape.

Inside that strong, self-righteous word is silence.  For me the quiet silence of personal power sits in the midst of resilience to encourage me to overcome adversity and hardship in any form and be born again on the other side.

Right now I am in transition and at this moment choose to share my silence of personal struggle at becoming resilient. At almost any cost I will try to avoid mental and emotional discomfort and yes I do feel stuck a lot of the time. I want to be so resilient with the adversities that come along in my life that I could wear it like proud armor. The avoidance usually shows itself with people rather than in tasks that need tending to. Situations like cleaning the house or writing a new article or getting through a long day at work because I am looking forward to something better at the end of the day seem to be acceptable and manageable for me. I can face what needs to be done physically by playing mental games with myself but when it comes to people I am just a wet mop.

I don’t spring back into shape fast enough when it comes to verbally standing up for myself. I avoid conflict. I avoid saying what needs to be said when it comes to people I have to confront. I’m a great ally; great at helping other people work out their thoughts when they have to confront someone but just awful at helping myself.

What usually ends up happening is I walk away, never having said what needs to be said even for the sake of saying the one thing that I know might make a difference. I feel unspeakable.

Have you ever felt unspeakable?

The dictionary defines the word unspeakable as being very bad or evil; impossible to describe in words; incapable of being expressed in words; that may not or cannot be spoken.

Hard to believe with how often I write but when it comes to face to face discussions or as I refer to them, confrontations, there comes a moment when I feel unspeakable. I feel evil inside of my body because my initial reaction to anger is to lash out in anger and I hate myself for thinking and feeling so out of control. I have swirling thoughts that don’t connect in a coherent way fast enough for me to respond in a timely fashion or with dignity. Very often, days later I find that I can intelligently form rebuttals and responses that actually make sense. It takes me that long to form what I wish I could have said in the moment. Somehow I have not yet been able to find my voice. I feel such shame whenever this happens.

I imagine the outcome of what I truly want to be similar to two guys calling each other out for a street fight. They need to establish their position in the neighborhood and so they challenge each other to a fight. Someone will win and someone will lose but at the end of the day they will both have a mutual respect for one another as well as having established a place for themselves with the other kids that they will eventually refer to as friends. I want that. I want to be able to establish myself as someone to respect and be called a friend when the face off is over because I stood up for myself in a debate or confrontation of words.

In doing research on how to become resilient I have learned that I need to not be affected by what is being said. In other words I need to not take it personally. I should know this; it’s one of the 4 most powerful agreements http://www.humanpotentialunlimited.com/Summary-content.html. It is so difficult to stay neutral. I am a feeler. I am sensitive and empathic and sympathetic and my heart is in everything I do and say. However, being able to separate myself from the words that brought up an emotion may just help me to think more clearly and parse through options for an intelligent and balanced response.

Usually my physical response is to remove myself from the situation as quietly and quickly as I can even if this means losing employment. It sounds irrational and pathetic I know but once angry words are thrown out and the evidence shows that the anger seems to be the way that other person chooses to deal with his/her emotions then I’m out. I don’t choose to fight that way or resolve anything that way so I leave.

So the question I have to ask myself is how does it ever help me or the other person if I don’t engage? I can’t possibly be a teacher of possibilities if I can’t hold my own ground. I’ll never get the respect I want from that person or from myself if I keep walking away. Is it a form of turning the other cheek? At some point I have to speak and I have to say what needs to be said unemotionally and intelligently in the moment and THEN if I still feel that walking away is the best course of action I can do it with confidence in my decision.

There are subtle ways in which you and I can build resilience. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me so far:

  1. Breathe: I always tell my children that when they face a difficult situation try to take a deep breath and face it head on and remember all that it took to get through that tough moment. The great reward is that the next time you go through something difficult, and I promise you that you will, you will be able to have something to refer back to and build on.

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” – Thich Nhat Hahn

  1. Create Purpose: Why are you in this difficult situation? How did you get here? How can you successfully and purposefully make this a learning experience that can not only benefit your well-being but help others when they hear your story? Attach a strong meaning to what is driving you through right now and put power to the outcome.

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear any ‘how’.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

  1. Network it out: Where is your tribe? Where are your peeps? Who is part of your army? Is the universe a part of your network? Is G-d? It is so important to have go-to people standing at the ready to help and support and guide and confide. Unload your burden if that is the only thing that will alleviate the initial pain and discomfort. Hearing yourself talk out loud to someone that you trust above all else drains the situation of a lot of power and puts the power to get through back in your hands.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”  –C.S. Lewis

  1. Ready, Set, JUMP: Launch yourself head on into the problem without a game plan. Just the momentum of knowing you have no choice but to solve the problem is momentum enough. Stay open and stay flexible to whatever solutions pop up. Let the road take you where it wants you to go and be determined to get out of this maze.

“Life is a gamble. There are no sureties. If you want something badly, you’d have to trust your heart and your instincts and then take a leap of faith.” –Alyssa Urbano

  • Time Heals all wounds: This discomfort won’t last forever unless you learn and do nothing. If you do nothing or take nothing from what you went through then the tough situation gets tougher and will keep coming up more powerfully than ever before.

 

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chodrin

  • Make a To-Do list: Brainstorm ways to get through this adversity. When you actually sit down and write out your thoughts and plans of attack it secretly empowers you to move forward. Creating a game plan, even if you are asked to abandon the plan along the way, builds confidence inside to help you know that you are capable of problem solving. You are able to make lemonade out of these awful lemons.

 

“The only thing more important than your to-do list is your to-be list. The only thing more important than your to-be list is to be.” – Alan Cohen

  • Choose YOU: The question is, if someone provokes you is it your decision to do nothing and walk away or is it your response to fear of confrontation? t get just as angry as the person you are dealing with. Staying calm and not letting your emotions get the better of you is admirable and mature but is there another way? Who do you want to be? In my case I want to be someone that will politely and succinctly argue, defend or rationalize back to the person looking for confrontation. I want to walk away having said everything that needed to be said on my part. I want to feel proud of myself at the end of the day that I did all I could to stand up for myself.

 

“Seeking excellence means choosing to forge your own sword to cut through the limitations of your life…” – James A. Murphy

Call to Action

Join me won’t you? Let’s hold each other accountable for the steps we take to build resilience in our lives. Our motivations may be different but the end result is the same; to feel proud and stand tall and live a life of honesty, integrity and self-worth. How will you get there?

Images by bing.com/elevateevents.com.au

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

6 Pathways toward Attracting your Dreams

Attracting Dreams pic

“She wasn’t where she had been. She wasn’t where she was going, but she was on her way.” Jodi Hills

I’m sure by now many of you have heard about visioning, vision statements, laws of attraction, positive energy, etc. It sounds good on paper and in conversations but does it really work and how can you make all that magic happen for your life?

An article appeared in the Business Insider in July of 2012 and writers Aimee Groth and Ashley Lutz interviewed Esther and Jerry Hicks, authors of the book, Law of Attraction: The basics of the Teachings of Abraham. In their article the writers listed ways in which you can attract more of the life you want. In a nutshell here is the list:

  1. You attract good or bad experiences based on your thoughts. In other words keep your thoughts as honest and pure as you can because even the bad stuff gets in.
  2. Thinking about something means you invite it in, even if you don’t want it.
  3. The more you focus on something, the more powerful it becomes. Don’t worry, be happy.
  4. It’s better to trust your emotions than over-think a decision. I talked about this in my post, Decisions, Decisions ( http://journeyoncoaching.com/2014/07/14/decisions-decisions-5-mindsets-toward-making-your-best-choice/).
  5. Make good things happen more quickly by thinking about them more. Jerry Hicks says, “When you give your attention to a subject and you feel only positive emotion about it, it will come very quickly into your experience.”
  6. You have to see things as you hope them to be, not as they are. The example here was that Michael Phelps would envision himself winning each swim race every night before he went to sleep.
  7. Devote time to powerful thinking. Spending time each day thinking and visioning your goals increases your chances for success.
  8. Everyone has the same chance at success. Success is not a limited resource.
  9. When disappointment shows up allow it in but do not allow it to make a home there.
  10. Avoid negative experiences if at all possible. Surround yourself with positive, uplifting experiences as much as you can. “Your attention to anything  has the power to draw it closer to you.”

While I was going through my coach training one of the hardest yet at times most impactful questions we were encouraged to keep in our arsenal was the question of what do you see for yourself or where do you want to be in 3, 5, or 10 years from now? It’s a hard question to answer for most but a great pathway toward a true vision for your life for some if not all of us.

A college student came to me for a few sessions wonderingif she was on the right path for her life. She said that she goes through this type of angst at the start of every school year because so much money is required in order for her to keep on her path toward her bachelor degree goal. Each year she wonders if the money is worth it because she has yet to sit in a classroom and not only find respect for the professors but to feel like she is learning anything of value for what she struggles to pay for this degree.

So the question came up in a session, “what do you see for yourself when these last 18 months are over?” There was no hesitation for her to answer and say that she wants to get her bachelor’s degree yet she kept on going with her thought process until I jumped in and stopped her. “Stop right there. Don’t think beyond the want. Let’s see what it will take to make the want possible.”  And so began her journey toward her vision of becoming a bachelor degree graduate. My client felt that her overwhelm was not only in finding the money each semester but also in the unknown of whether she could finish in 18 months or would she have to extend her education time line.

Visioning becomes easier when it’s broken into smaller pieces. If 3, 5, or 10 years is too much to manage then break it down into more doable pieces like 3, 5 or 10 months or even smaller pieces by measuring progress and achievements by weeks or days.

So, let’s start with a vision statement. A vision statement is a description of a desired outcome. The statement is filled with energy and determination. The statement creates a mental picture of your goal and would reflect the best possible outcome. A vision statement is letting go of all of your inhibitions and really stretching way outside of your comfort zone by imagining only the good that will come of your creativity in the end. The challenge is to go as far out of your normal way of thinking in order to get to where you want to be, in other words to open your eyes and see things as they could be.

So how do we begin to form a vision statement? Assuming you have already asked and answered the burning question of “what do I want” here are a few steps to help you get started:

According to Dr. Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D. and her book, Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams, “visionaries are asked to surrender and allow the dream or vision to materialize rather than to force it. Visioning emphasizes the heart’s desire, not what we ‘think’ we want or what we think is ‘possible’ or ‘practical’.”

  1. Describe your vision statement using “now” words. Use words as if your vision were really happening and you are working it every day. “In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.” –Victoria Moran
  2. Make it personal. Use emotion when talking about or describing your vision. How does it make you feel to talk about it or work toward the goal you envision? Do you get excited, overwhelmed, scared, or energized? Let all the emotions come as they may. In other words how passionate are you? Does what you describe inspire you to do more, go further? Do others feel compelled to listen and support you? “The saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there is nothing to make it last.” – Nicholas Sparks
  3. Stay in touch. Use describing words like colors, smells, sounds, shapes, activities, outcomes. Make the vision as detailed as possible. Make your vision as tangible to the listener as possible, even if the listener is only you. “When you work on the little things big things happen.” –Rodger Halston
  4. Let the journey take you away. Get lost in the flow of working toward your dreams. Don’t limit yourself to only what you see. Follow your heart but stay flexible so that when the road curves and twists and bends away from your original path you will be able to expand and hone your vision even further. It’s not so much how you start but that you start. The journey is in the details and the story is the journey. “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway
  5. Leave the inner critic at the door. Try not to let the “logical” part of you take control of the creative part of you. Think like a child who doesn’t know about limits and let the limitless you shine through. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein
  6. Say a prayer. The more energy and support you can bring to what you want the greater the likelihood of your vision coming true. “’Help’ is a prayer that is always answered.” – Anne Lamott

“The first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. VISION will ignite the fire of passion that fuels our commitment to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to achieve excellence. Only VISION allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action. VISION has no boundaries and knows no limits. Our VISION is what we become in life. ” Tony Dungy

Call To Action

What do you want? Start with something small and build from there. As you make each small want a reality you are building confidence and limitless possibilities toward the bigger visions of your life. Don’t hold back. Share your wants with me and remember I’m here to help in any way that I can.

Images by bing.com/futuresobright.com

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

A Mother’s Prayer

 

prayerhands

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

I know Ms. Gilbert said that as a personal incentive to create the life she wanted for herself but when I read it with a mother’s perspective it takes on a whole new meaning. As mom’s we must participate relentlessly in the manifestation of our own blessings, our blessings being our children. We will get it wrong a lot but we must continue to be relentless because our children need us to be so. However in our relentless pursuit of caring for our children we forget the one most important lesson, the one thing that sounds the most backward…

“But kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. Motherhood is the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” – Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven

I need to remind myself of this nearly every day because my heart wants them to need me but in reality it’s a different kind of need that I truly want. It’s not a dependency need it’s a memory lane kind of need.

So how do we muster the strength to be relentless? In a word, love.

“Evil itself may be relentless. I will grant you that, but love is relentless too. Friendship is a relentless force. Family is a relentless force. Faith is a relentless force. The human spirit is relentless, and the human heart outlasts – and can defeat – even the most relentless force of all, which is time.” Dean Koontz, Relentless

I am relentlessly in pursuit of life meaning and life purpose and understanding free will and just what it means to be grateful and feel blessed. I was led to get in touch with my daughter’s co-worker today because she and I seemed to have similar life struggles that called to both of us for support. It was the best thing I did today. During our conversation she spoke of her struggles with her son and in the middle of her story I heard this, “…….a mother’s prayer……”. I knew what I wanted to do right then.

“The greatest heroes in life are those that never give up on someone. They stick it out and make it work. They sacrifice things in their life, in order to help others grow. They give up what they want because someone needs it more. They work hard and overcome adversity. They fail for a moment, but get back up on their feet to show others they don’t have to stay down. They show their loved ones that love is not “proved” by conformity. They teach others that having a voice is a sign of courage, and they will not stay silent to make people feel comfortable. They are fearless and will do whatever it takes to bring about the greatness in the ones they love because doing so brings them peace. Their name is—MOM.” Shannon L. Alder

Relentlessly I pray for my children. For their safety, for their good health in mind and body and spirit, for their good thoughts both for themselves and toward others but I know that their journey is individual and just as it has taken me all these years to learn and grow and discover and uncover layers of who I am and who I am yet to be so I must allow time to work its magic on them. My prayer then becomes one of asking that they be led to a path of self-discovery, self-sacrifice and self-awareness for their immeasurable blessings.

What does your prayer sound like?

Call to Action

There are no rules to this thing. Just let your heart speak. There is no special day or time of day, there are no special words to use because all prayers are heard and answered in the right space and time. Right where you are in the middle of the chaos and relentless pursuit of raising your good, free-thinking, loving family is the best and most right place to speak your prayer.

Share your mother’s prayer with me and it just may wind up in my new book.

I came across this beautiful poem/prayer that I have to share with you because it could be every mother’s prayer for her child/children any time of their lives:

“For Equilibrium, a Blessing:

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore, May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance, May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in, So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said, May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames, May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough to hear in the depths the laughter of god.” John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

If you would like to explore more about personal growth in any direction, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.