There’s something about the way we have been taught, that nothing worth having comes easily, that makes our lives more painful than necessary. Yes it’s true that we can appreciate the wins when we have had many failures, but does dwelling on bad stuff help or hinder?
Logically we all know that too much of it just doesn’t help, but we seem to have this inbuilt way of punishing ourselves and actually keeping what we do want from coming into our experience.
As people around me return to their usual routines, I am struck by the sheer amount of resistant energy out there. While it’s useful to understand the contrast between what you don’t want and what you do want, it’s only useful to start there rather than dwell there.
When I first came to my new country 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to have a sabbatical before starting to look for work. In my heart I knew what I’d been doing wasn’t for me, but I had no clue what was either.
Eventually money ran out and I took up a similar role, albeit more strategically focused which was more me, because I really didn’t have the clarity on what I should be doing instead.
Although I didn’t let go of the sense of wanting to do something different, I spent years being grumpy and resistant to my current reality which really only made my life – and that of those around me – more miserable.
"misery is only your starting point; don’t stay there once you recognize it"
In misery we do not attract anything other than more misery. It is only your starting point; don’t stay there once you recognize it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you immediately hand in your notice or leave your partner, it means you start a process of deliberately creating what you do want.
Okay, you saw the light over the break, with great clarity you know there’s something about your life you want to change, you may even know what it is you want instead. However, if you are focusing on the ‘how’ of the situation - how bad the current situation is, or how the new situation will come about - or you are focused on the ‘who’ is making you miserable or who will change this situation, I guarantee you are in the wrong ballpark.
"let go of the who and the how, and focus on what you have to be grateful for in the here and now"
Creating something new, or something from nothing as I wrote about last week, happens when we let go of the who and the how, and we focus on what we have to be grateful for in the here and now.
In one sense you might feel that if now was so great you wouldn’t want to change it, but remember you are really only wanting to change an aspect of it. It’s easier for me to see this now as I’m seeing through lenses that have begun to learn the art of surrender. As I watch my partner go to work, or my children go to kindergarten, their resistance is strong.
There is nothing wrong in your yearning for more freedom to live your life as you want, you can still be of service and add value when you dance to the beat of your own drum. In fact, you will be of most service only when you live this way. First you have to set that as an intention, but the trick is then to forget about it and focus on all the wonderful things you have now.
"write a letter to some higher power that could magically make circumstances coalesce to your benefit"
Imagine it like posting a letter. If you were to write a letter to some higher power that could magically make circumstances coalesce to your benefit, detailing what your life would be like if these changes occurred, you would be starting the process of your creation.
The letter must not detail who or how this creation will come about, imagine this higher power telling you to stick with what you are good at and letting them get on with their job (which is the who and the how) if that makes it easier. Then ‘post’ the letter (in a safe place, in the bin, wherever) and forget about it.
Trusting that things will happen much more quickly if you let the universe get on with its job, without you putting up barriers (by focusing on how bad your current situation is) or imposing conditions on who and how, is perhaps the hardest part.
If you have no faith in the process of surrender, start with something less consequential that you want, maybe a cup of coffee or a bar of chocolate, or to spot a particular type of bird or car. Post a letter, let it go and see what happens. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
"Listen to your inner voice, the inner knowing that you have, it will serve you best."
My parents are visiting at the moment, so I hear often the question from my dad about scientific evidence. As I said to him, if you are limiting your experience to things that have been scientifically proven you are ignoring a much larger part of yourself, your inner knowing.
We live in a vast multiverse, one that is so expansive that ‘science’ (the rational explanation that satisfies the mind) can explain only a small proportion. Remember your mind is not you; it’s only a part of you and contributes to a fraction of your intelligence, not the whole of it. Listen to the inner voice, the inner knowing that you have, it will serve you best.
Focus on the things in your life right now that you really are grateful for. If you are struggling with that get a bit more general than the specific people, animals and things that make up your day to day experience. If you have a job that you don’t like, focus on its saving graces (the income that puts food on the table, some of the great people you come across). If you are in a body you don’t like, focus on its saving graces (its functions and senses that allow you to experience this world).
If you can think of nothing else, or if you are on a roll, focus on the beauty all around us, the majesty of dark rolling thunderous clouds, the deep blue of a sunny sky, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the crispness of the cold as your boots crunch across snow and ice. Nature brings us endless things to admire with awe and wonder.
Focus on what is good and you will invite more in, you will watch in wonder as inspired thoughts and seeming chance occurrences bring what you truly want into your experience, Then one day you can pull out that letter you wrote and know that you made it happen by simply trusting it would and listening when those inspired thoughts came up.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/9390392@N02/1826891453">Je te déteste (mais je t'aime) - I hate you (but I still love you)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>
Creating something from nothing is what we do best, whether it’s creating a moving tune that endures through the ages, an inspirational thought sewn in someone’s head, a new technology, an amazing photo, a baby or - even at our worst - making a drama out of a crisis; at our very heart we are creators.
Even if you are not aware of the magnificent things you’ve already created or those within you’ve yet to create, or the importance of you being here, or even that you might have something valuable to contribute, the fact you are still here speaks to the infinite possibilities.
In today’s society though your attention is so bombarded most hours of the day that more of us are having to actively seeking peace and stillness through one means or another. Tapping into that deliberately is really simple.
This is not about doing nothing; it's about practicing as little thinking as possible to create space for new thoughts to come up. In order to let go of your thoughts you might have to be very active in making that happen. However, when achieved on a regular basis it helps you gain perspective. In stillness clarity emerges.
The irony is that your ‘nothing’ is actually where your everything starts. Many of you will have experienced this over the recent holiday period, with a change from the usual routine, whether restful or not, most of you will have resolved to make changes of some kind.
Some avoid stillness, contemplation, it in fear of the opposite. Yet by repressing some of the thoughts that keep rattling around, instead of really looking at the issues your inner being wants to surface, you are letting them snowball. If you face what’s there, without trying to solve anything, just acknowledging it’s there, often problems look smaller and solutions seem to appear from nowhere.
There’s an inner voice in you wanting to be heard. It occurred to me this morning, as I looked at my computer and noticed the many background processes running that are using half the memory, which is not unlike our own subconscious.
Despite all this surface stuff that is going on, thoughts leading to behaviours and experiences that preoccupy us most of the time, underneath – in the nothingness, or subconscious – there are all these background processes running to keep us healthy. When we power down the surface stuff, suddenly we see and feel very clearly the things that are important.
Think of your life like a fast moving river of light, your feelings about everything illuminating the way to your wellbeing. Answers seem to creep up from nowhere, inspired thoughts just pop into your head, things that seemed so terrible now don’t seem as bad and suddenly you become more open and meet people that you would have otherwise missed.
From nothing and nowhere comes pretty much everything. So doesn’t it make sense to tap in there on a regular basis?
Well you do, unconsciously; every night you sleep. You'll notice when you first awake you might have an inspired thought, or perhaps you even wake up in the middle of the night and have one. No matter how upset, stressed, depressed, angry or sad you feel, sleep brings a new perspective.
Consciously, the best thing any of us can do is to tap into nothingness on a regular basis. In that seemingly empty space we can face our worst demons, our biggest worries, nothing is ever as bad as we think it is. It’s as if we suddenly let all the air out of the balloon, tension eases.
If you are finding that you are ruminating on particular thoughts, memories or fears for the future that are making you feel bad, go for a walk by the ocean, in the forest, in the mountains, by a lake, somewhere – anywhere – that you can let it go. If your mind is still beating the drum of “what if” then work it out, reverse the momentum.
Start pondering the good things that you have in your life now, nothing will change your fortunes as quickly as gratitude. If you are struggling to find something to be thankful for right now, stop and look around, start by appreciating that awesome view, the beautiful sunrise or that amazing music or that person’s smile. A night with good friends can do much for your spirits, though the trick is to be present enough to soak it in and really get the lasting benefit rather than a hangover.
Remember that underneath those background operating systems of yours are always working away in your favour. To tap into them you just need to take notice when you awake, and regularly seek a little peace and quiet so you can tune in to your inner voice.
In being born you are significant, now go and be magnificent.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/82763263@N00/3036708415">This is mine.</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>
Whether it’s at home, work or play, we all have times when we find ourselves affected by others’ moods or things that have happened. We all know the power of feeling good, we all know that it’s not what happens but how we respond to what happens that creates our experience. Easier said than done.
Yesterday I woke up feeling good and ventured forth into the day. It quickly became apparent that my youngest daughter was not in a good space, and was fast pulling her older sister into her negative vortex.
At first I tried to simply be present for my daughter to figure out what was upsetting her. To calm the sibling arguments we read books, which helped for all too brief a time, the outbursts were relentless. I tried to lead by example, to make requests fun and keep myself in a positive space but confess I was worn down after only an hour and found myself stressed and short in patience.
Even with a nice break in the middle of the afternoon at a kid’s party on the beach, the energy seemed to just pick up where it left off once we were back home. Summed up, it was a horrible day; lots of yelling, screaming, sniping, even hitting, from the kids, and their dad and I allowed ourselves to be well and truly sucked in.
Although in theory you know you are the creator of your own reality, in practice all too often we blame others for upsetting us. Really this is because we have been taught to respond to things from the wrong vantage point. For many, your upbringing has taught you habits that contradict your knowing that you are the creator of your own reality.
Think of it like this, you came into this world with certain intentions about your life. The first thing you encounter is resistance, with everyone trying to tell you what is best for you. Rather than teaching you to tune into your intuitive guidance, well meaning parenting styles, cultural and social expectations may even have broken your confidence in yourself in the attempt to control your behaviour.
Recognise this, as you become conscious of it, you’ll start to ask questions about who you really are and eventually this will help you gain more of a sense of your true self. Gaining a fresh perspective is important when it comes to dealing with conflict particularly.
Over time we stop seeing those closest to us, unable to see the wood for the trees. Those we think we know best, we actually know the least. Sure, you will constantly see ‘evidence’ to support what you know about them, because we get what we expect. We stop seeing them through fresh eyes though and the stories you attach to the behaviour of those closest to you are just that, stories.
The motivations of others are known only to them, and while your version of their story often features you as the victim in some way, it’s more probable that they are not even thinking about you, they are simply trying to create the best reality for themselves.
First and foremost, be true to yourself. In the same way you’ve stopped paying attention to the others around you who are closest; it’s even truer of you. There will be a whole bunch of labels that you put on yourself – organized, messy, easy going, serious etc – that might not even be the right fit for who you are now.
To see yourself or others through new lenses, in order to resolve or avoid further conflict, it is vitally important to first get yourself into a good space. Never does a good decision come from a place of feeling bad, it just leads to more of the same. Only from a good place can you get the clarity needed to seek a good outcome.
While ultimately you want to be in a place where you can be unaffected by the mood of others, the goal is not to suddenly become Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. You are breaking lifetime habits and creating new ones, go easy on yourself, just start in reflection, looking at some of your least and most proud moments.
Contemplate what might work better for you as you move forward. If you have a particularly troublesome relationship that causes frequent anguish, you are not going to change its momentum in the midst of another sticky moment. The time to focus energy on it is when you are in a good space.
The trick is to build an alternative picture about what is going on. At the moment you are stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts, behaviors and experiences triggered by stories and similar feelings in new situations. Your inner being screams “I just want to feel good and this is making me feel bad” we turn to others to change their behaviour in order that we feel good. Their inner being screams “you are not the boss of me” and so on.
Try to attribute the best perspective that you can, give people the benefit of the doubt as, ultimately, all anyone is seeking is happiness. Relooking at someone through different eyes in calmer times can help you create more helpful stories, thoughts and thus behaviors, experiences and feelings when you run into another disagreement.
Life is simple, let your feelings guide you. Good feelings mean you are in tune, on track - it’s like a river of light illuminating what you intended for your life before it even began. You are unique and so are those around you, if you see the best in them it will create the space in which the best of both of you can show itself.
Remember even small steps make a big difference. If we keep trying to be just to be that bit better, in time the momentum will change and the trying will be a thing of the past. If you are teaching through your example, that first and foremost you must feel good, better and better decisions will get made in the moment and better and better outcomes will be achieved.
It can certainly be done as a matter of course by future generations if we lead the way and show by our example the way back to inner peace.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
Sometimes it feels as though nothing changes, at others if feels as though nothing stays the same. In truth, nothing is permanent and yet we are always in pursuit of something as if it is. If life were to stay exactly the same, what would be the point? Life is transient by nature, impermanent. We grow, evolve.
What if this year you resolved simply to feel good, to seek out the things in your life already that make you feel that way and do more of those?
Sure, there are times when we get nostalgic about the past. This week I remembered that someone had told me my old high school (for 12-18 year olds) had been demolished (7 years ago). For some reason it really started to bother me. Here was this school half a world away, in a town I haven’t lived in for over 20 years, and yet it irked me.
The town was specially designed to have self sufficient neighborhoods, where there was access to local shops, a library, schools etc without having to cross main trunk roads. The demolition of the school and amalgamation with another in the next neighbourhood made a mockery of the principles the town was built upon. Also, most planning and building rules allow for a minimum 50 year life, yet this was demolished after only 40 years, having opened in the 60’s.
As rationally offended as I was by both of these things, what I think upset me more was that it brought up a flood of visceral memories. It’s been many years since I’ve thought about my school years in any depth, yet here I was getting flashes of memories of walking down staircases, sitting with friends in the playground, I even remembered exactly where I was standing at the rear of the school the day I saw the sun glint on my down-covered legs and decided I would shave them.
The attached primary school (for 5-12 year olds) has also been demolished and rebuild further down in the old grounds, looking atrociously offensive in its modern architecture, nothing like the old school, and suspiciously like it won’t last out the next 50 years either.
Struggling to get my head around how it might all look now, with a housing development erected on the land, I got onto Google Maps and Google Earth. By chance the last satellite pictures were taken as the new primary school was being built and the old one was in use, and the old high school was derelict but still standing. Strangely when I zoomed in for a street view, instead of looking into the derelict playground, there I was looking at the entrance to a new housing estate.
It was an odd sensation, suddenly like my school years were ghostly somehow, no trace of the school anymore. As if someone were trying to erase us from the past. It did strike me that I must only be glimpsing at what many of you have experienced on a much larger scale. Close to home we had the Christchurch earthquakes just over 5 years ago that annihilated almost every landmark in New Zealand’s most architecturally picturesque city. Lives and landscape changed forever.
While it saddens me to see how unkempt much of the areas that were my stomping grounds are, that pang to keep them as they were in the 1970’s and 80’s is momentary.
The illusion of permanence is a prevailing desire for humans. We seek to attain something, with the sense that if only we were there, or had ‘it’ then we could relax. At this time of the year we have set and perhaps even already ‘failed’ to keep – resolutions.
The most important thing we could resolve is to breathe, look around, and be happy right where you are. That is distinct from giving up on your dreams, but if you are always looking at the lack of what you have, you will be holding those dreams at bay.
The quickest way for you to achieve goals is to feel as though you’ve already attained them. When I first heard that nearly 20 years ago, I thought it sounded a bit silly. That town I was brought up in is not far outside of Glasgow in Scotland, anything from the mouth of an American in our culture back then was always to be taken with a derisory dose of skepticism and sarcasm.
To be fair those Americans were talking about driving Ferraris, not something I particularly desired or thought of as attainable for that young lass that I was in my twenties. However, over the long years since I have learned the deeper wisdom in what they were teaching.
“Do What You Love, Love What You Do” it says emblazed on my wall in rather swish looking metal art scroll writing. Many of you will likely relate to this saying, it may even resonate with one of your resolutions, yet you will be rocking on up to a job that isn’t it.
When I think about what that might feel like, to do what you love for a living, I think of words like easy, coming home, peaceful, inspiring. So the key to finding your way to that future is to feel your way into it. If you seek and do things that make you feel that way, it creates a momentum.
That is why, even though my daughter took what felt like forever to go to sleep tonight, I still commit to sitting down and writing late into the night because I feel all those things when I do.
Your life is unlikely to be exactly what you want it to be right now, exactly because of the topic I started with – lack of permanence, or impermanence as it’s called.
We desire to hold onto things that make us feel good, make them permanent, marriage is a classic example. Rather, shift focus, and desire to simply hold onto to feeling good (in a way that also keeps you feeling good about yourself of course), remaining unattached to what it is that makes you feel that way. It’s that attachment that holds you back.
Life does move on. Look back only to see how far you’ve come. Sure, take a moment to rest in the nostalgia, to miss people and places, but you can’t dwell there or you will become a ghost yourself. The fact you are here, wherever that is for you right now, is because you have more to accomplish, more to contribute.
Dream big and feel into it, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
This article was initially published on LinkedIn.
Listening to, rather than fighting against, your better judgment is the single most powerful tool you have in making changes in your life for the better. They key is knowing how to tap into it.
For many years I resolved to make career changes, always focusing on what I needed to do to improve things – a promotion, a change in role, a change in boss, a change in industry, a change in focus. In the end I discovered none of it made any difference, the career path I’d chosen simply wasn’t who I am. The trouble was I wasn’t clear on who that really is.
Yet one of my deepest beliefs is that I’m here for a reason, and so it was extremely frustrating to work in a job after job that just didn’t seem to serve that purpose. Uncovering that sense of purpose became a lot clearer when I started to uncover more of myself, living my life outwardly as I felt inwardly. When becoming unfailingly authentic became my focus things started to shift.
Knowing what we believe about ourselves and why we are here are some of the most profound and liberating things you can ponder because it gives you a powerful perspective that will enable you to live a life of purpose and fulfillment.
Your intuitive knowing is never as clear as times like this when you have had some time away from your daily routine. If you have promised yourself that you need to take a good look at your life in some way (career, relationships, health etc), first step back from that specific issue and take a moment to start to really articulate the BIG picture for yourself.
Believing I am here for a purpose didn’t stem from anything I was taught as I grew up, it stemmed from tuning in to the strong pull I felt any time I heard someone talking about their own story; in films, songs, books, magazines and on stage. Each time I’d hear that I would feel so inspired and the gap in my own life became more obvious.
Listening to that pull is your inner judgement. It’s not about rationalizing something in your mind, it’s about tuning into what you feel when you hear and see things around you. If you feel good you know you are on track, if you feel bad you know you are not. It’s that simple.
One of my biggest regrets is a time when I acted against my better judgment, taking relationship advice from a mentor that I still have a great respect for today. While the relationship endured, I can’t help but wonder at the harm that acting on that advice did. Listening to others is one thing; acting on their advice is another. No matter how together and worldly wise that person is, use their advice only to help you uncover your own knowing. If it feels good, go with it. If it doesn’t – don’t.
A word to the wise though. Distinguish between the good feelings that arise when you are inspired and the bad feelings that may follow when you then allow your mind to concoct all the reasons you might fail. You are wanting to listen to the inspiration, not your inner naysayer, your mind.
If you dwell on the stories of the mind you will end up stuck. Use your mind as a tool to get what your intuition is telling you is right. Deliberately ask yourself what needs to be true in order for a shift to occur. Start thinking about the possibilities of you achieving it in your life, even if that seems remote, dwell on what it would feel like.
To be clear, your job is only to figure out the what, not the how. All those years I spent searching for the right thing, reading career book after career book. The phrase “if it’s going to be it’s up to me” ringing in my head. Not realizing my job was simply to hold on to the feeling of what I wanted, to look for those feelings in my life that already existed and to focus more upon those than the lack I felt otherwise.
If you are constantly focused on the lack of something you will hold what you really want at bay. If you want it badly enough it will eventually come but it will be hard won. We are so programmed to believe it’s all up to us that we fail to recognize the role of serendipity and coincidence in our lives.
Look at the things in your life already that were game changers. How did you meet your partner? How did you get that dream job? How did you find your favourite hobby? Often these things find you, they are not hard work, they just ‘happen’.
Whatever you have resolved to tackle this year, doing it from a perspective of knowing yourself and your place here will greatly affect your chances of success. Answering the big questions isn’t about trusting in what your friends or family or some other trusted source believes, or finding rote answers in religious doctrines, it’s about learning to trust your own inner knowing above all else.
It’s normal to seek answers outside of yourself, from the moment we are born society teaches us not to trust our own perspective and we get told what is best for us. However this ignores the more relevant and powerful tool you have within, your inner judgment. Use what you find outside of yourself like a succession of clues, uncovering things that really resonate. When you hear your truth you will know it.
Over the New Year I was talking to some good friends about what we believed and one talked about their strong feeling that there is no ‘god’ in the common way that God is conveyed as some separate, higher, entity. Yet, she did feel a sense of spirituality, that there’s something bigger than us. She wondered if she owed it to her kids to take them to a church, just to experience it.
What she said next really resonated with me, that she heard some good stuff taught but just didn’t buy into the construct. In my late teens I remember actively learning about many of the world’s religions, thinking that much of the central messages and themes were the same and that they couldn’t all be right.
For many years my inner being was on red alert every time I even got a sniff of anything remotely religious. That changed when I finally figured out for myself what I did truly believe, it was liberating as I am now able to listen to what others are saying beyond some of the language and common definitions that are used.
People have created cultures and practices that can oftentimes focus more on the messengers rather than the messages they taught. Worse, many of the doctrines are others' interpretations of those messages. Whether you are religious or not, it still boils down to this, if you think something is off, it probably is. You are your own best judge of what’s right for you.
It’s well known that the further you are from a problem the smaller it seems. If you figure out the big questions in life for yourself, you’ll always have that much bigger perspective you can look through the lens of when you are contemplating your resolutions.
I recently heard someone say that the deeper we go within ourselves, the bigger an impact we make. There is simply no better time to contemplate the big stuff than when you have been outside of you usual routine. Listen to that inner voice of yours, it’s got your best interests at heart and can propel you towards your best future.
Dance to the beat of your own drum and the rhythm of life will bring you the happiness and success you are looking for.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124394042@N01/2702827219">Dancing at sunset</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>
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