Recently I was at the park with some parents and their kids from my daughters’ school. As I watched, one of the parents picked her daughter up and was engaged in a conversation, on both of their faces was a look of sheer joy.
In that moment I was taken back to the time when I had my first child and the frequency with which I used to revel in her company. The contrast was so sharp with today’s relationship that, in that moment, a strong desire was born to get back to the place where I can revel.
How was I going to fix it? Perhaps I needed to start by practicing what I write about I thought to myself ironically. Here I am writing each week about the criticality of feeling good above all else, and how my job is to feel good about the here and now, reaching for things in the present that feel the way I want to feel.
So then the perennial thought arose about what a wonderfully imperfect being I am, and thank goodness or else I’d have nothing to write about. More accurately I’d have no room for growth, and I love learning and growth.
The quickest way to revel in time with the kids is to look for the most positive aspects about that right now. simple but not easy at first. Write a list, every day, of the things you love about them. Urgh! I know, but it's the best way to focus. This was a struggle for me too, I could wax lyrical about the sugar that got spilled this morning, or the pancake that got wasted, or the sheets that need washed again but the good stuff…. what good stuff?
Instead of focusing on, in essence, the things that create more work for us, it’s time to focus on the truly amazing beings they are becoming every day, Like when I tidying away the old baby wraps and muslins one night , wondering what the heck I was thinking adding these to the play pile, then shifted gear, wondering what the next magical thing will be that these cloths are about to become. One day they are a cape, the next a dolly wrap, the next a partition in a ‘house’ and the next a picnic rug.
Each day now I write in a journal all the good stuff. It’s tempting to record the other things I mentioned for posterity too, but then that’s feeding the energy. If they are really driving you nuts you may have to go general to even get into it, like how they have grown or how great it is that, generally, they keep good health.
Then it becomes easier to think about more specific things, which sparks memories of other things. Before you know it, 3 pages (each) get filled, when you really only need to do a side for each. But it’s creating momentum, positive momentum.
As I said in How to Feel Good (Despite Your Kids, Employees or Coworkers) catching people doing the good stuff is the ONLY thing worth doing. You are energy, every thought, action and feeling has energy attached to it. Every time I catch them doing the bad stuff, it gives more energy to it.
Even if you are better than most, and catch them doing the bad stuff and good stuff all you do is neutralise the energy. Plus every time I hear myself say “good tidying” or “good manners” or some version of “good job” I feel like a dog trainer and it just feels disingenuous.
You are not, at your core, neutral energy. Your wellbeing depends upon you tapping into the good stuff, which means focusing on the more positive than negative attributes of anything.
But what do you do when your kids are being unsafe, or are about to destroy property? Intervene. Break your attention to the dinner you are making, the floor you are vacuuming, the washing you are folding, the lawn you are mowing, the garden you are weeding, the thing you are building, the TV programme you are watching, whatever it is, resist the temptation to yell, physically intervene and steer them away from trouble.
Remember, at the heart of our human wiring to learn is 'doing', experience and imitation, then layered with emotional intelligence in later years and only then thoughts (we tend not to act from a point of rationalising things out until the teenage years).
The very reason we know “that will taste yucky” is because, at some point in our past, we put that in our mouths, or something like it. However, in the case of the unsafe stuff or the destroying property scenario, intervene.
They will know from the tense arm and alert state you are in crossing the road that it’s something to watch out for, they will know by the swiftness of your movement to catch the teetering vase and the sigh of relief as you catch it that was not a fun game. Hence the saying “what you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say”.
We could all take a lead from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher, who never yells at the kids or gives them a list of what they are not allowed to do, she just focuses on what she would like them to do and often just quietly takes their hand and leads them to something more constructive. And boy does she have command of that ship.
All in all then, we need to reprogramme ourselves from all that we experienced and observed growing up, all our subconscious tapes... no small feat, but possible. Not by trying to erase the old tapes, they will remain, but to shift focus from them, by creating a different experience often enough.
You will slip up, even on the day of writing this I admit that, upon finding my youngest 'cleaning' the sink with my facial moisturizer after spending two hours combing nits out of their hair was somewhat taxing, let's say I wasn't reveling. But forgive yourself, reset and try again.
Focus on the great stuff, and build momentum on that. It’s time to seek out those joyous moments, revel in the experience of it, and keep following that path, getting in the flow of your own wellbeing. It starts with intention and desire, which – if you are still reading – you clearly have. So happy path finding.
Our spirit endures. That’s what we hear most often. But what does it endure? This world of contrast and experiences that, while not welcome in the moment, make us grow, make us stronger. Of course we endure more than we have to; perhaps it’s time to find the yellow brick road.
When I heard about the law of attraction many years ago (if I feel good, I attract more good things into my experience) I started to think about it as the yellow brick road; following your good feelings to the life you have always wanted.
So what does the human spirit have to do with that? Bear with me.
It strikes me as strange that, on one hand, the phrase human spirit is palatable to the masses, and yet, in a different form, spirituality, it becomes less so; perhaps sounding a bit too new age or even religious.
I get it. I was one of those who had an allergic reaction every time I’d hear something like that. Perhaps the reason we are so sensitive to even discussing it, is because we don’t wish to have another’s view forced upon us of the ultimate truth of who we are and neither should we. It should be a process of exploration, should you wish to undertake it.
I overheard the start of a programme recently where Morgan Freeman was exploring beliefs and presenting a wide range of experiences that people had to share, including those with near death experiences. He said, “while none of us can truly know (about the meaning of life)…” This immediately struck me as a false statement, it’s like saying you can never know whether you are truly in love.
When you know, you know. I also have a strong suspicion Morgan Freeman knows, it’s just that it’s become very un-PC to claim it, and there is a tendency for it to shut down the conversation.
Can you remember when you fell in love? Can you remember when you felt the adoration of someone who reciprocated that love? I can. At that point, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what falling in love is, though you may fear it won’t last.
It was just logical to me that there’s a bigger context for life. When I consider the trillions of cells that represent our bodies, the magnificence of nature and creation of new life, and the awesome size and precision of the cosmos, it made more sense to me that there’s more to life than I am consciously aware of.
When, like me, you’ve gone through a process of unraveling who you truly are (the person you were born as, with talents, traits, a purpose even – the person before all the layers of well meaning nurture got added), part of that journey includes pondering those bigger questions, which one could consider spiritual if you find answers other than “nothing”.
And that is healthy. To have a context for your life is helpful; it puts day to day issues in perspective.
When I was watching a DVD one day, many years ago now, I heard a guy called Michael Beckwith say “we are all part of one energy, we come into form and out of form” it just resonated, the bells pealed loudly, ringing true. It also tied in well with the law of attraction, it just made sense to me.
Since then we have ‘scientifically’ uncovered the truth of us all being energy, every cell, every thought, every action, all of it is a form of energy. You can’t see it, touch it or smell it, you can however feel it – good vibes, bad vibes; energy vibrates. We are ‘in tune’ with ourselves when we vibrate on the feel good frequency.
And that is how I follow my own yellow brick road, just remaining open to things that resonate and feel right.
So back to the human spirit. It struck me that if we are all an extension of some source energy, and if our feeling good is the key to finding our yellow brick road (our dreams, the things we want in life), then the feelings attached to falling in love are the same feelings you have when you are feeling directly connected to your source energy, that’s why we crave it so much.
Except there’s no fear it won’t last, just that you lose the connection.
So if you make it your mission to feel as good as you can in every situation, you will have to become aware of those things making you feel bad and figure out how to dissipate the feelings. If you have ever done any kind of guided meditation you will know that, at the heart of every emotion is peace, a quiet centre of stillness. As you take any issue in your life, when you peel through the layers and deal with the emotions, you eventually arrive at stillness.
When you do, you can see past the issues, your mind again becomes open. I don’t recommend trying this in the middle of an argument with your nearest and dearest though, practice when you are in a better place. Get to know the feeling of it. As you get familiar with how that frequency feels, you find it much easier to dial in when things would otherwise take a u-turn into some negative vortex.
I realise where I have come to in this contemplation is that we come from some sort of an energy source and that source only transmits wellbeing. That in itself is something half the world would struggle with in fear of hell and damnation.
However, what I have come to know is fear is a human condition, not one of our source. If you can make it your business to feel good, to allow yourself to be loved and to love, you will live a life where great things happen.
But hey, it is this life of contrast we are talking about, and we are always growing and expanding as is our nature, so don’t expect is all to be bluebells and butterflies. All I’m saying is just don’t dwell in the quagmire, the human spirit doesn’t have to endure quite so much as we’ve come to, reach for the good feelings and good things will continue to happen.
You never know, maybe one day soon we will all get past the sensitivity of discussing these things as people reconnect with their own sense of knowing and confidence, and allow others to believe whatever resonates with them.
Feeling connected to something bigger is more potent than the feeling of falling in love, or being the subject of another’s wanted adoration, because it’s unconditional, it just is. When you have felt that, and the only way to feel it is to get in tune with yourself, the human spirit, you will know that following the yellow brick road is the most important thing you can do.
Have you ever heard that you should catch people doing things well and appreciate them for it? What I’ve come to realise is that is all we ever need to do. Anything more is meddling, it is not serving you nor them. That includes our kids and our employees and coworkers.
I know, I know, I haven’t met these people you’re thinking of. But the aim is for you to feel good and, believe me, once you feel good, you are in a much better position to help others.
Let’s focus on you for a second. From the day you were born, you know that everyone around you meddled in your life, they likely still do. Opinions, rules, written and unwritten, all ‘for your own good’, all well meaning. All that nurture adding so many layers to your nature, you begin to feel like some version of the Michelin Man.
Be savvy enough to realise all the baggage we carry is as a result of others imposing their opinions on us. So in your position of power, as a parent or employer, it is the same baggage you can unconsciously create in your kids and perpetuate in your employees; no matter how well meaning.
As whole beings, it’s our job to first feel as good as we can in every circumstance that arises, to focus on ourselves. That doesn’t mean you are downright euphoric and living in la-la land, it means you are in tune with yourself and have the best perspective on whatever you are dealing with.
When we think, it affects our actions and that affects our experiences and how we feel about things; our thoughts literally create things, we are the creators of our own reality.
Think of how all the best things in your life happened (your dream job, dream home, the love of your life, your kids), all a series of small, seemingly insignificant events, that you couldn’t have planned, that came together. Like attracts like, so feeling good attracts more good things.
Instead of taking control of feeling good, we tend to let our feelings follow what we observe, feeling bad as much as we feel good, if not more. Our thoughts get stuck in endless subconscious loops that have been played and replayed since our childhood and tell us some version of us not being worthy,
All this holds at bay the clues you are seeking to move forwards towards what you really want. When you are not present, not in tune with yourself, you are not open to new ideas.
This week it has struck me how I’ve compartmentalized what I know and practice on this. The area of my life I’ve been focused on for a while is doing what I love for a living. On one hand I feel great about how well things are going for me when it comes to my life’s work, but on the other the results don’t reflect that feeling because — overall — I’m not feeling as good as I could in other areas of my life. Why? Too much meddling.
“I’ve had this notion that the role of a parent somehow involves much more intervention than is helpful in achieving my aim.”
Like most families I have kids that fight as much as they get along. The same was true in the office of my employees. Getting in the middle of it affects how I am feeling quicker than anything else. Being asked to referee something as complex as the energy of two siblings, or two coworkers, at different stages of development and ways of seeing the world, where I haven’t observed everything that has happened in the lead up to disagreement is a cumbersome impossibility.
When I say “in the lead up to” I’m literally talking about the sum of their life’s experiences. We are each made of trillions of cells, each their own consciousness. Our thoughts, actions and feelings create energy that can affect each one of those cells; our biology, neurocircuitry, neurochemistry, neurohormones, and even our genetic expression. So we have no real way of understanding how past interactions and the present situation are mingled in the cocktail of chemistry that has resulted in the current disagreement.
For kids, the older one often gets the raw end of the deal for hitting the younger one, which might sometimes be deserved, sometimes it isn’t. For employees we do the same thing, form perceptions or stereotypes and defer to that in the absence of all the information — which most often even those involved can’t even begin to understand or articulate.
I can ponder on these issues at length, and have. I could intervene between siblings or coworkers if I really wanted to, and have to differing degrees at differing times, but they are actually just good examples of things I need to butt out of.
In my case, much of this unconscious tuned-out time I’ve been spending is based on me getting involved in people’s lives where it’s not serving me or them. The energy created by the way I’m thinking, acting and feeling when I’m with the kids is, overall, keeping at bay a lot of the inspired thoughts and actions that would otherwise be flowing quite nicely if I were tuned in more of the time.
You might feel you have certain obligations as a parent or an employer, but much of this is based on your own Michelin Man patterning of meddling. While I’d still step in if my kids or someone else were in danger, or property was in danger of being damaged, my job, I am coming to realize, is to see the best in my kids and to set a positive example by taking control of how I feel in each situation.
Certainly as a manager over the years I’ve become more and more hands off, tending to be more interested in the bigger picture. Now I fervently believe that we should be supporting employees to self manage to achieve engagement and outcomes beyond those we’ve ever before seen.
Whatever opinion you have on how people can do better, including your kids, employees, and coworkers, you cannot know what is between them and their inner knowing; the trillions of thought interactions, feelings, and creations that are going on simultaneously, even they couldn’t explain it.
People learn through experience and imitation, they do not ever learn from what you say — unless they have deliberately sought you out to ask your opinion; even then they will likely only resonate with some of what you are saying.
“Give others the opportunity to find their own good feelings so they then deal with their challenges in a more productive and sustainable way”
Your job is to first and foremost feel good yourself, then help them connect with their inner knowing and get the heck out of the way. In that state you can’t but help uplift those around you.
When you feel good you are in a place of allowing other good things to come with more ease. When you make it a priority in all areas of your life then you will start to see the things that you want showing up faster and more easily than ever before.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
Letting change unfold is a tricky business in this driver survivor culture. For some reason we have gotten caught up in believing if it’s going to be it’s up to you to make it happen. This is not quite true. If it’s going to be, find the best things about where you are right now, feel good right now, and then you will be inspired to take action.
Think about it, how many of the best things in your life happened by more of a chance set of circumstances than sheer willpower? Look at your best relationships, jobs, health and hobbies and unwind the path that led you to them; usually it doesn’t match with any plan you had or particular effort you’d put in that direction.
While this only just seems to be sinking in for me, it struck me this week that I had been taught this lesson in spades a few years ago in one of the most common situations on this planet – birthing a child.
Something crucial to know about birthing, is only to push when you feel the urge, because pushing too early creates distress and resistance, it creates more problems than it solves, babies come when they are ready.
This is exactly true for any change you want to create. Yet I think my own story speaks well to the reason that I believe we have stopped listening to our inner knowing that things will unfold naturally for any change we are seeking – fear.
My template for birthing a child was that you felt pain, got an epidural (why wouldn’t you?) and semi sat up in a hospital bed while pushing out a baby – which looked sore. Of course there was also the horrifying chance of emptying your bowels at the same time. In all, not a process anyone birthing is looking forward to.
The same can be said of dating, losing weight, job seeking, and so on, there are always the horror stories and the terrifying chances that we could fail, be unworthy or look silly.
So when it came to actually birthing, I just couldn’t draw enough oxygen through the mask every time a contraction came (or get it back off my partner quickly enough!) to keep my breathing deep and calm. That said, I felt like a trouper 24 hours into the labour, doing it the natural way. After a few more hours though, when there was little progress, I decided enough was enough and wanted to get an ambulance to take me to the hospital for an epidural.
The admiral state of deliberate calm quickly dissipated at that point, knowing the epidural would take away the pain. However, 3 hours later once the ambulance finally came (yes it took 3 long hours), I was a crazy, screaming shadow of my former self and sounded like cow in distress. 13 hours later, my beautiful daughter arrived after much pushing, although I was numb to it all.
After that experience I was determined to base myself at the hospital for delivery number two, with an intention to deliver naturally if I could stand it (ultimately because it’s better for you and baby, not because I’m a masochist). Interestingly the labour went from ‘early labour’ to almost ready to deliver surprisingly quickly, the midwife was taken aback when she checked on me and declared there was no time to get to the hospital, not good news to the half-crazed lady who had called her over (me).
What she did next changed both the momentum of that labour and, in retrospect, taught me a valuable life lesson. She physically grabbed my hips and showed me how to rock them through each labour pain, sternly talked me through my breathing and trained me to be completely present to the moment. I somehow transcended the horror of it all, just focusing on being completely there in my body, following my breath and the rhythm of the contraction, allowing things to naturally unfold.
7 hours later… through the mists of the world I had transcended into, the midwife was asking me to push. I didn’t feel any urge to push, but then I didn’t know what the urge felt like because I’d been numbed by my epidural first time around, so I obeyed because I thought she knew more than I did about what was happening.
It was a painful experience. Then came the very words that kicked everything into action “we need to get her to the hospital” (my daughter was coming out superman-style with one arm up, likely saying “wait, I’m not quite ready”).
Hearing those words mustered a visceral response, after the previous horrific ambulance experience. All at once I felt a convulsion pass through my body and out came my beautiful daughter. Now I really understood what ‘the urge to push’ felt like, what inspired action feels like, it was so much easier than all that damaging, resistant, pushing.
In that moment I remember pondering the irony of finally learning how to birth a baby, by simply feeling as good as I could in the moment and being the vessel through which it gets born, while simultaneously thinking “I NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN”.
That experience though had so much teach me about the process of all creation, not just of babies, but of everything we can imagine from our health, careers, relationships and everything in between.
If you’ve never thought about it in this way I’d start with something small and inconsequential, maybe that you’d like a coffee. Think about that coffee and savour the thought. Without going through your normal process of getting it, go do something else you enjoy, distract yourself totally and then watch how it shows up in your life.
Whatever you desire, big or small, easing it into your life, rather than pushing against it, begins with being present, in tune with yourself, and taking control of feeling good. If you don’t believe me, try it.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/46673620@N02/19879178319">Dry Before You Can Fly</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>
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