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19 Sep

Being Thankful Out Loud

An excerpt from Loving Out Loud by Robyn Spizman

 

While it can be easy to feel like it is impossible to make a positive difference in these divisive times, the new book Loving Out Loud: The Power of a Kind Word by New York Times bestselling author Robyn Spizman promises that our words can go a long way in that regard, especially when we share them out loud.

 

Loving Out Loud offers readers creative ideas and practical insights for cultivating kindness in their lives while connecting more deeply with the world around them. The book is divided into chapters that provide readers with powerful ways for raising kinder children; loving their significant others, family, and friends; and valuing teachers, coworkers, and everyone in between. We hope you will enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Since I haven’t thanked you yet today, let me do so now. I realize you could be doing any number of things at this very second, but you chose to read this article. For that I am truly grateful.

 

Having a mindful, kind attitude can change our view of life. I like to think of it as being a kindness “influencer,” as with social media. Imagine together starting a Loving Out Loud (LOL) campaign of caring about each other. Watch what happens when you share an attitude of gratitude in your world and show appreciation to others out loud — it’s electric and kinetic!

 

Albert Schweitzer summed up gratitude when he said, “Often…our own light goes out, and is rekindled by some experience we go through with a fellow-man. Thus we have each of us cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

 

When we appreciate someone and become that spark, a thank-you becomes a gift and lights us up. We all have so many people to thank. How we thank someone becomes part of our signature style of kindness. Studies continue to prove that the more we do for others, the happier we feel. There is a direct correlation. Cultivating kindness is a wonderful opportunity to uplift others as well as ourselves. When we turn our attention to noticing what we are grateful for, we bring out the best in ourselves.

 

If you stop and think of all the people you know who deserve a thank-you, you’ll be surprised to see just how many have an impact on your day, along with your life.

How a Thank-You Can Brighten Your Life

There are days when we all feel down or blue. A thank-you “out loud” is a really nice way I know to shift a mood. It can begin with the power of a simple hello, showing your genuine delight and lift up another person, including yourself.

 

A kindhearted hello leads to friendships, new contacts, relationships, and more. You are not just breaking the ice but are igniting an opportunity when you take the risk to connect with another person and reach out first, sharing positive words or an observation. You create the possibility of making a new friend. In return, you are also seen as friendly, outgoing, considerate, engaging, complimentary, and interested. These good traits contribute to making a wonderful first impression.

Be Thankful Out Loud

The words thank you are universal in their ability to spread good feelings. It’s clear that when we thank the people who touched our lives in little as well as powerful ways, we celebrate a part of life that validates each other.

 

Think for a moment:

  • Who has helped you along the way in your lifetime?
  • Who wrote recommendation letters on your behalf?
  • Who took the time to teach you to ride a bike, read a book, play an instrument, hit a home run, play tennis, or cook a special recipe?
  • Who makes your life easier or has come to your rescue?
  • Is there someone who has been there for you through thick and thin?
  • Do you practice saying “thank you”?

Every day there are opportunities around you, and when you seize them out loud, you build and increase your LOL radar. When you see someone in uniform who has served the country or provides safety or a public service, get in the habit of saying, “Thank you for your service.” Here are some other ideas.

Make a Thank-You Date

A friend recently reminded me how special it is to thank others out loud with a scheduled “thank you” date or get-together. Every year, she takes her babysitters out for a thank-you lunch dedicated to expressing her appreciation. It makes her kids’ caregivers feel special, and they make new friends at these dates, since they have so much in common. Whether it’s a lunch to thank a teacher, breakfast to thank Grandma for driving car pool, a mother-daughter walk at the park, or a dinner with a friend who volunteered to help you, thank-you dates are memorable and a tradition worth establishing.

 

Having written about the topic of thanks, love, and kindness for decades, I’ve discovered many clever ways to say “thank you,” some that don’t even use those words. For example, I loved it when a younger gentleman gave a handshake to an elderly coworker and said, “I want to shake the hand of the nicest person I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. You are one generous soul.”

 

I continue to marvel at all thank-yous that make us feel appreciated, but some hit it right out of the park. I’ll never forget one I received that made me smile from ear to ear. It has stuck with me over the years as among the most touching thank-yous ever to warm my heart.

 

I sent a holiday gift to a friend of mine’s daughter. As she opened it, her parents videotaped her reaction and sent me the thank-you video capturing her excitement. Her joy in unwrapping her present was off the charts. That was one gift that kept on giving joy!

 

# # #

 

Robyn Spizman is the author of Loving Out Loud. She is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and popular keynote speaker who has appeared in the media for over three decades, including NBC’s Today show more than thirty times. She lives in Atlanta. Visit her online at http://www.robynspizman.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Loving Out Loud. Copyright ©2019 by Robyn Spizman. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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03 Sep

The Four Friends

“The Four Friends” is an ancient fable that the Buddha repeated to teach the value of respect for one another. The lesson we can learn from this is that when there is harmony, there is also happiness.

 

Long, long ago, there was a pheasant would eat fruit, and then spit out the seeds. A small sapling grew from one of those seeds. That sapling then grew into a small tree that bore fruits, and the pheasant happily ate them.

 

Then, as the tree grew bigger, since the pheasant had difficulty flying, he could no longer reach the fruit.

 

A rabbit arrived, and said to the pheasant: “Neither of us can reach the fruit. Let me lift you so you can pluck the fruits, and we can share them.” The pheasant agreed, and the two enjoyed the fruits of the tree.

 

As the tree grew bigger, the fruit became out of their reach.

 

A monkey came by and agreed to help the rabbit and the pheasant. The monkey lifted the rabbit, and the rabbit lifted the pheasant, and the three all shared the fruits.

 

But then, the tree grew even bigger still.

 

Finally, an elephant arrived on the scene, and joined in to help the other three. The elephant lifted the monkey, the monkey lifted the rabbit, and the rabbit lifted the pheasant. Now, however high the tree grew, they could always reach the fruits!

 

These four friends became good examples to others in the forest. The bird taught other birds to be good. The elephant taught those with fangs to help others, and the rabbit taught the creatures with paws to do their part, and the monkey taught those with fur to do good for others. Eventually, the small group influenced even human beings by their example of cooperation, despite differences in size, strength or even species. By working together, the four friends learned the value of unity, integrity, friendship, generosity, and selflessness for the greater good.

 

The Four Friends, or Thumpa Punshi, is a familiar theme in paintings, curtains, thangkas and walls in Buddhist temples and homes. It is thought that wherever this picture is displayed harmony will increase. The picture acts as a reminder of how we should stay together and help each other. We all have various strengths and challenges, and yet we can complement one another to accomplish those things that we cannot achieve alone.

The Four Friends. I got this picture from allposters.com – I have a canvas print hanging in my home!

 

“Respect should be freely given to all simply because all have Buddha-nature, because all can become Buddhas.” – Stonepeace

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15 Jun

The Eight Steps of Love on Every Breath

An excerpt from LOVE ON EVERY BREATH by Lama Palden Drolma

At this time, when our human family is facing many challenges, it is more important than ever that we find peace and sustenance in our hearts. In the new book Love on Every Breath: Tonglen Meditation for Transforming Pain into Joy, author Lama Palden Drolma introduces a profound, ancient meditation that has been practiced in isolated mountain retreats in the Himalayas for centuries, which is now available to the modern world.

In the standard Tonglen, the meditator simply breathes in the suffering of others and then breathes out love and compassion to them, but this approach does not always work well for Westerners, who often find it difficult to get past the ego’s roadblocks. That is why Lama Palden prefers to teach the more user-friendly “Love on Every Breath” variation to Westerners, which comes from the Shangpa lineage of two enlightened women.

We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

Love on Every Breath is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana meditation from the Shangpa lineage that combines breath, awareness, imagination, and an energetic transformation process. The meditation brings all these components together in a powerful way in order to open our hearts, to reveal and cultivate our kindness, love, compassion, and wisdom. In Tibetan, this is called the Extraordinary Tonglen, since it uses special techniques of Vajrayana to transform suffering. The Tibetan word tonglen is composed of two words — tong means “giving or sending,” and len means “receiving or taking.” First, we open ourselves to receive and feel the suffering of ourselves and others, breathing it into our heart center. This is the “taking.” The suffering is then instantaneously and effortlessly liberated in the heart and transformed by a special method into unconditional love. At this point, on the out-breath, love and healing energy are sent back out to whomever you are doing the meditation for at the moment, whether yourself or another. This is the “sending.”

The primary purpose of the Love on Every Breath meditation is to cultivate our love and compassion, to transform and liberate our heart. When we come from a place of love, everything shifts for us. This book gives you the tools to transform and empower yourself and come to a place of creative engaged freedom.

The Love on Every Breath meditation is not an exotic Himalayan practice, but it is something that emerges out of us spontaneously and naturally. It is inherent in us to want to remove suffering — others’ or our own. The problem for many children (and adults) is that we absorb the suffering of others, and then it stagnates inside of us. Love on Every Breath gives a way for the suffering to be liberated in the body and the psyche and emerge as compassion. There is a felt sense as this happens.

 

The Eight Steps of Love on Every Breath

The Love on Every Breath meditation has eight steps. The complete meditation is done as a sitting practice and takes about forty-five minutes to an hour from start to finish, but the practice is highly adaptable and can be easily abbreviated.

 

Here is a brief description of each step. In step 1, Resting in Open Awareness, we let go of everything. We let go of the past and the future; we let go of any and all ideas about ourselves or others; we completely let go into our bodies and into relaxing. We become aware of our mind so that we don’t allow it to wander into thinking. Rather, we stay present with what is. Usually, the easiest way to do this is to join our attention and breath. This anchors us in our body, and in our felt sensations, instead of in our thoughts. This is a doorway into calm abiding. We simply rest in awareness and openness; openness is synonymous with emptiness.

 

In step 2, Seeking Refuge in Awakened Sanctuary, we go for refuge, for sanctuary, to the awakened ones. This helps create a context and the space for our meditation. We also ask the buddhas and other awakened beings to support us during our meditation.

 

In step 3, Cultivating Awakened Mind, we engender the altruistic intention to fully awaken to be able to help liberate all beings from suffering.

 

In the fourth step, Stepping into Love, we invite an awakened being, traditionally Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, to be present above the crown of our head.

 

Following our heartfelt prayers, Chenrezig dissolves into ourselves, and we meditate that we become inseparable from Chenrezig. The awakened mind is then established in the heart center as a crystal vajra of light, which is a symbol of the indestructible, pure luminous empty reality of who we truly are, our buddha nature. The vajra is what transforms the suffering — not our individual personality or ego. This saves our ego from saying, “I don’t want to take in more suffering! I have enough of my own!”

 

The Vajra that Appears in our Heart Center

 

In the fifth step, Taking and Sending for Yourself, we imagine our ordinary self in front of us and contemplate our pain and wounds, meeting ourselves with loving awareness. We breathe in our suffering as a dark smoke-like substance, breathing it right into our heart center. As soon as it touches the vajra of light, we visualize a lightning bolt arising from the vajra, transforming all suffering into white light, symbolic of unconditional awakened love and healing energy. When we are breathing out, this white light goes into the heart center of our ordinary self, where it heals, illuminates, and awakens.

 

In the sixth step, Taking and Sending for Others, we meditate on a loved one, and gradually we include others. As in the previous step, we contemplate their suffering, big and small, see it as dark smoke, and breathe it into the vajra in our heart. When the suffering touches the vajra, it is instantly transformed. Then, on the out-breath, we imagine the white light going into the person or people, filling them with light and healing, and eventually bringing about their awakening.

 

Chenrezig, together with the vajra of awakening, greatly enlarges our capacity to welcome the suffering and transform it. Slowly we expand our meditation out to various people and groups of people, until finally all beings are included. We rest in the love and joy of all of us awakened together.

 

Step 7, Dissolving, involves dissolving our visualization, completely letting go, and resting in open awareness. Then in step 8, Dedicating, we dedicate any and all benefit of our meditation to the awakening of all beings.

 

# # #

 

Lama Palden Drolma is the author of Love on Every Breath. A licensed psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and coach, she has studied Buddhism in the Himalayas with some of the most preeminent Tibetan masters of the twentieth century. Following a traditional three-year retreat under his guidance, Kalu Rinpoche authorized her to become one of the first Western lamas. She subsequently founded the Sukhasiddhi Foundation, a Tibetan Buddhist teaching center in Fairfax, California. Visit her online at http://www.lamapalden.org.

 

Excerpted from the book Love on Every Breath. Copyright © 2019 by Lama Palden Drolma. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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17 Apr

REVEALING THE REAL YOU IN LOVE

The Letter Code CoverAn excerpt taking from The Letter Code: Deciphering Why You Love the Way You Love

By Dr. Krystal White, Ph.D
Go to www.thelettercode.com/resources to take the quiz and find out what YOUR letter is.

You know the feeling of being completely yourself, unencumbered and free. It feels like a peaceful contentment. We all want relationships, especially romantic partnerships, where we can be intimately and positively connected to our significant others and be our true selves at the same time. We need to find our own centers to achieve this dynamic. Feeling successful in our relationships is reliant on our ability to uncover and respond to our hidden core love needs.

If you’re like me, you live in a complicated world and find yourself to be rather complicated, too. Being “authentic” is not as easy as it sounds. You need to shift through lots of detail on the surface to quickly get to the simple, real you underneath all the roles, responsibilities, and rules you have adopted. Your letter code is a hack for deciphering all this superficial stuff to get to the most essential way you genuinely connect with your significant others.

Your letter code reveals the basic need you are seeking to fulfill in love—and have been all your life—although you may not have known it. It dictates how you fundamentally relate to your romantic partners and explains the reason why. Everybody has a combination of needs that, when met, facilitate them in clicking with their partner. The love connection just flows when this occurs.

You know this clicking when you feel it. It happens when you are loving from your real code and not a false one. Staying close to your code— your real center of love—will quickly reduce how much effort you put forth to connect, and it will increase your experience of being in the right place to feel love.

In this book, you will be guided to classify your behavior, feelings, and thoughts into their most essential form. Knowing our codes helps us quickly translate and communicate our real selves to the significant others we’d like to love better.

People have only one of four main romantic love profiles that explains their patterns of connectivity. The needs that underlie each of these profiles are recognizable and easy to understand. The four letter codes represent essential patterns of thought, feeling, and actions. These are expressed in how emotionally close or distant people like to be in relationship with their significant others. They also help us decipher the degree to which we seek either autonomy or support from them.

Under different circumstances, some people need either to move emotionally closer to their partners or emotionally away from their partners. Other people don’t need to move at all, needing instead to remain grounded, while either standing together or standing apart. Each of these four behavioral styles conveys how people achieve connectivity with their significant others.

In this book, I’m giving you a quick tool for understanding the four main types of psychological needs driving how we love. Without psychobabble or spending time trying to deduce the origins of your profile, I’m going to give you quick, user-friendly information on how much support, togetherness, groundedness, and separation you naturally need in your love life to click with a partner.

How to feel fulfilled, happy, and aligned with a significant other may have been hidden to you up to now. But I want you to be able to see the real you in love. Knowing your letter code has the potential to powerfully change the way you love from here on out.

You Get the Picture

 

Consider the body language when two people approach one another in greeting. Some people lean in, some people stand upright, and some lean away. Some people even want to be so close that they are practically standing on top of one another.

These physical patterns are like the lines making up letters in an alphabet. Imagine that each person’s body is a straight line. Lines join together to make a letter, just as two adults connect together to form a couple. Being able to read the letters is a hack that can help you quickly understand yourself.

It is not possible to accurately discern anybody’s relationship needs purely from observing the way he or she approaches others. What you see is not what you get. But you can decipher your own core needs in a relationship by examining what’s beneath your patterns of feeling, thinking, wanting, and behaving in love.

The reason to do this is because you can’t change what you can’t see. Once you can see your letter code, you’ll be more effective in connecting with others while being the real you.

The Different Ways We Touch

Looking at how the lines of our energy and behavior touch and connect reveals commonalities and differences in our core needs in relationship.

 

Leaning In

Some people need to lean into a relationship, wanting to establish a mutually supportive connection. If this feels right for you, you want not only to assist your partner, but to also lift her up emotionally. You want both of you to be there to help each other when vulnerable, and receive a significant degree of support from the connection. Without this consistent support, you will feel that something just isn’t right. You may feel slight unease, disappointment, or frustration—perhaps assuming that you are being taken for granted or mistreated. Or you could feel self-judgmental, becoming dissatisfied with yourself for not being enough or doing well enough to have earned and received the support you wanted.

You may be a person who naturally needs a significant degree of emotional vulnerability. You appreciate it when you are needed; and if you are being honest with yourself, you like it when you can trust it is safe for you to need someone. Getting this need met provides you with an essential sense of stability.

Leaning Back

Some people need to lean back from a relationship, wanting to diverge from their significant others. If this sounds like you, there are times when you will seek to go into a completely different direction from your significant other. You  need periodic diversion away from being a couple in order to feel satisfied. Leaning away occasionally, or even frequently, gives you space to reflect on your own life, to feel more gratitude for the relationship, and to bring vitality and renewed passion back to your relationship.

If your partner does not like or genuinely value this type of leaning away, you may feel frustrated, ashamed, or guilty of your desire. You may establish destructive habits to gain this freedom or to repress your need for it. Neither is an ideal solution. By contrast, if you can lovingly express your need to have separate experiences and your partner is willing to embrace your need, as a couple you may discover that adventures external to your partnership actually brings integrity to the relationship.

Standing Side by Side

Some people feel a need to be grounded and upright. They prefer to touch in ways where each person isn’t required to lean in to connect. They prefer to stand side by side in love. If this sounds like you, you tend to find purpose in maintaining a solid, rooted foundation. You feel fulfilled by being steadfast in your commitments, and you value a strong work ethic. You view relationships as partnerships where two people care about each other’s wellbeing and take responsibility for themselves as well. It feels important to you to see eye to eye with your partner and to function as equals.

Reaching Out

Some people are looking for companionship from their significant others. Companionship provides a bridge of connection between otherwise separate entities. If you deeply appreciate it when your partner reaches out to you in reciprocity to enjoy common interests, tasks/projects, activities, and experiences, this may be your preferred dynamic. Sharing and collaborating is a link to your significant other that provides a clear way for you to enhance your mutual pleasure.

Focus on Yourself First

In the next four chapters, you’re going to learn how to decipher your personal letter code and hidden relationship needs. It doesn’t matter if you are in a long-term relationship, such as a marriage, or if you are only casually dating right now. In either case, you have built-in, natural ways of joining your life with a person you genuinely want to love. Once you know your core need and can more easily see it behind your thoughts, emotions, and actions, then you can start to build (or rebuild) your love life from a foundation of empowered awareness rather than false interpretations.

Each letter code visually represents the type of relationship a person is either consciously or unconsciously trying to create according to his or her personal motivation. Understand your letter code and you’ll be clued in about your innermost need.

 

Beware! Trying to guess your significant other’s letter code could lead to disconnection. Remember, these needs are mostly hidden from us. We can spend many years superficially reading our relationships one way, while the truth of what we need is completely the opposite. You’ll get much better results if you work on deciphering your own motivation first before you try to guide your significant partner to decode his/her own needs.

 

Focus on yourself. That often serves as a powerful tool to influence others to do the same.

 

 

KRYSTAL WHITE, Ph.D., is a leadership psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with individuals, organizations, and communities.

 

Dr. White holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a board certified child and adolescent psychologist, and has completed a medical fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in developmental pediatric psychology. She also holds a master’s degree in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in mind, brain, and education from Harvard University.

 

For more information, please visit www.thelettercode.com and www.drkrystalwhite.com or connect with Dr. White on Instagram and LinkedIn.

 

The Letter Code is available on Amazon, www.thelettercode.com, and wherever books are sold.

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23 Feb

Strengthen the Higher Self

An excerpt from Feed Your Soul by Carly Pollack

There are countless diets, cleanses, and 30-day challenges all geared to help people lose weight, heal their digestion, and feel more energy. Yet, these temporary protocols fall short when it comes to true transformation. With all of the nutrition guidance available, why do millions of people weigh more than they want and feel anxious and depressed about it?

 

Nutrition expert Carly Pollack lived this vicious cycle until trial and error, and over a decade of academic study and self-healing, led her to the incredible insights she’s shared with thousands. In Feed Your Soul: Nutritional Wisdom to Lose Weight Permanently and Live Fulfilled, she presents her unique understanding of body science, brain wiring, and spiritual principles to facilitate real, long-term change. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Before you can regain control of your thoughts, beliefs, and emotional state, you must first take a closer look at your internal guidance system. Two different voices are guiding you, and although they both sound like you, one is a much pushier, more obnoxious version and therefore steals most of your attention. This loud voice comes from your monkey mind, which I simply call the “mind” and many spiritual teachers call the “ego.”

 

The mind developed as a way to protect us; it was a means of survival. It helped us avoid danger and kept us alive by continually warning us of what could go wrong. As we have evolved as a species, the mind, sadly, has not. Think of it as an outdated computer that drives you crazy more than it helps you get things done. Now, I’m not saying the mind doesn’t step up in life-or-death situations. I’m talking about the other 99.999 percent of the time here.

 

The mind creates chaos through fear, judgment, comparison, and negativity. Its favorite diatribe is the one that convinces us of scarcity. We aren’t pretty, skinny, or rich enough. There isn’t enough time in the day, there aren’t enough good people in the world, and we don’t have enough willpower to make things happen. Whatever the heck it is, there just isn’t enough of it!

 

The mind’s second favorite story is that something is happening or has happened to us that “shouldn’t be” happening (or “shouldn’t have” happened). It convinces us that we aren’t supposed to have problems — and when we do, the mind creates massive suffering. The mind is excellent at dress-rehearsing a worst-case scenario. It finds a way to judge and blame as much as possible. If you aren’t judging someone else, then you are judging yourself. This constant uninvited commentary is the background of your every waking moment. From the minute you open your eyes to the moment your head hits the pillow, your mind does not shut up. Yeah, mind, I’m calling you out big-time, and I’m telling you to take a backseat; and PS, nobody likes you.

 

Luckily, there is a second guiding voice, and this one comes from your heart and soul, otherwise referred to as your intuition, true self, or inner wisdom. I like to call this voice my “higher self” because it triggers me to think about what I would say to myself if I were holding myself in the highest regard. Find a name for this place of wisdom that feels good to you, and begin to call on this voice to take the upper hand. Your higher self comes through in a whisper, a gentle guidance. It is always kind, compassionate, and loving. This voice lives only in the present moment, and it is available to us anytime we can quiet the mind enough to hear it. From this place, we are never arguing with “what is” because we are living in the moment, making new decisions as they arise.

 

Close your eyes right now (well, after you read these instructions) and place your right hand on your belly and your left hand over your heart. Take three slow, deep breaths. Now ask yourself gently, “What does my higher self have to say about this issue?” If you don’t hear anything right away, simply say, “I’m willing to slow down my mind and make room for my highest wisdom to come through.”

 

Because your mind has taken center stage for most of your life, it may take some practice to get your higher self to begin speaking up. Next time you are in a place of mental anguish, prompt yourself with the following questions:

 

  • What would I tell my best friend in this situation? What would be my sage advice?
  • Could this mean something different? What if the opposite of what I’m thinking is true?
  • What would love do? What would love say?
  • What do I think my future self (twenty years from now) would tell me about this problem or situation?

 

Listening to your higher self is the first step to taking back control from the mind. Witnessing your thoughts without giving in to them, while stepping back and deciding what you choose to think, is one of the most powerful tools you have for living a joyful life. If you control your mind, you control your plate. If you control your plate, you take back control of your body and your health.

 

# # #

 

Carly Pollack is the author of Feed Your Soul and is the founder of Nutritional Wisdom, a thriving private practice based in Austin, Texas. A Certified Clinical Nutritionist with a master’s degree in holistic nutrition, Carly has been awarded Best Nutritionist in Austin five years running and has helped over 10,000 people achieve their health and happiness goals. Visit her online at www.carlypollack.com

 

Excerpted from the book Feed Your Soul. Copyright ©2019 by Carly Pollack. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

 

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02 Feb

The One Common Habit That You Should Break.

While various articles have been written on the topics of procrastination and self-criticism, let’s focus on one non-productive habit that is common in today’s society.

Whether you are looking at making positive changes in your personal life or work life, this one common habit can be detrimental to the perception that others have of you.

About a month ago, I was listening to the radio in my car (I like listening to traffic updates if I am driving in peak hour traffic). After the news, sports, weather, and traffic report, the hosts of this particular radio show discussed a habit that hit home with me.

Here it is – “Saying “sorry” too much” or “Over-apologising”.

As a trained Counsellor and a certified Life Coach, I have helped others to break out of unproductive habits.

In previous articles, I have mentioned that it can be challenging to just break a habit. You have to replace a habit for long-term gain.

I was “guilty as charged” when it came to saying “sorry” too much. My colleagues, my best friend, and my wife can all vouch for this.

Let me share a story with you. In 2009, I used to work as a Financial Planner for a boutique Financial Planning firm in inner-city Melbourne (Australia). On an occasion, I had to apply for a day off, on short notice. After sending an email to the Managing Director, I was hoping for a favourable outcome. A few hours later, the Managing Director came to my desk, and said “That’s fine, you can have that day off”. Naturally, I was very relieved. As he was walking away, he stopped, turned around and said (in a low tone) “Too many “sorries” in your email mate”.

That day, I decided to make a conscious effort of not apologising too many times. That was to no avail.

In 2017, I was working in a remote Aboriginal community in far northern Australia. One of the locals offered to take me on a boat trip, and show me majestic coasts of Arnhem Land. While we were on his boat, I accidentally stepped on his foot. After realising what I had done, I said “Sorry, I am so sorry about that. I didn’t mean to step on your foot. Sorry once again”. He laughed and replied “It’s okay. You don’t have to say “sorry” so many times. I didn’t realise that you are a sorrier”.

I thought that saying “sorry” too many times is a positive because people who over-apologise are naturally empathic. And, empathy is a positive trait to have. Then it dawned on me that an apology becomes weak if you say “sorry” to many times.

After thinking long and hard, I decided upon doing something more productive every time I needed to apologise to someone.

If you have been reading my articles over the past ten years, you would have realised that I live and breathe gratitude. It is in my top five values. Hence, I decided to incorporate gratitude into apology.

Remember how I mentioned that it is more beneficial to replace a habit than just trying to break it?

Instead of saying “sorry” many times in a sentence, I started to use the words “Thank you” in the same sentence.

For example, if I got caught in traffic, and arrived in a meeting late, I would have said “I am so sorry about being seven minutes late to the meeting. The traffic was very heavy. So sorry about holding you up. I should have left home earlier. Sorry once again”.

Here is what I began to say “Thank you so much for your patience. The traffic was heavier than usual. Sorry for holding you up”.

What I noticed was that others were more receptive of being thanked. The words “sorry” and “thank you” were complimentary in a sentence. Most people who received my apology and gratitude at the same time were appreciative of my words. They even smiled or lightly laughed. It is basic human behaviour that everyone likes to be thanked.

Here is my suggestion to you – please incorporate gratitude in your apology. It enhances the human touch when you have to apologise for something.

The next time you have to say “sorry” to someone, please thank them for something.

Being apologetic and grateful at the same time will take your people skills to another level.

Quote: “An apology can be a wonderful thing so long as it is infrequent and from the heart.” Gary Hopkins

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how not to dilute an apology by saying “sorry” too many times, and that you will begin to compliment your apology with gratitude.

Influencing you to your excellence,

Ron

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18 Dec

A Grateful Generous Heart

An excerpt from The Jewel of Abundance by Ellen Grace O’Brian

Although millions of Westerners practice yoga simply for its health benefits, the philosophy and wisdom behind the multifaceted discipline have far more to offer. In The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga, award-winning author and Kriya Yoga teacher Ellen Grace O’Brian reveals an overlooked aspect of yoga: its powerful teachings on prosperity. She draws upon the ancient Vedic tradition of yoga philosophy and practice and shows how spirituality and earthly success can complement each other, leading to realization of the higher Self. O’Brian presents a clear explanation of both the philosophy of yoga and the nuts and bolts of practice, such as setting up a daily meditation routine, incorporating mantras, discerning how to cooperate with universal principles for complete well-being, and cultivating mindfulness in action. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

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A grateful heart is a magnet that draws to us what is harmonious and good. This idea is reflected in a playful metaphysical adage: not, “We see things as they are,” but, “We see things as we are.” In other words, our state of mind and consciousness color our perception and determine how we see and experience things. Taken a step further, this dynamic explains how we also then draw to us what corresponds with our consciousness. When our hearts are grateful, when we approach others and life itself with gratitude for all that is given, we generally reap more of the same. The opposite is true as well. When we’re down and depressed and can’t see much good anywhere — that experience will tend to compound itself.

Life in the manifest realm is mixed — light and dark, hot and cold, day and night, up and down, fast and slow, and so on it goes. But beyond all duality and changing phenomena is the unchanging Absolute Reality that we can know as good, as whole and completely supportive of its divine purpose. Isn’t it better for us to call forth the good in every situation? To call it forth in every moment? We can do this through training our mind to extract what is good, what is praiseworthy or useful, and gratitude is one way to do that. Simply look deeply into any relationship, or any situation, and ask what there is to be grateful for. There is always something. When we find it, and call it forth, our heart opens and we become more receptive to the presence of divine grace at hand.

Which comes first, gratitude or grace? They seem to arise together. Gratitude is our natural response to the gift of grace, and gratitude itself opens us to the awareness of ever-present divine support. When we work hard toward something and accomplish it, or desire something and attain it, we generally feel good, and along with that we feel some relief — a kind of “job well done!” out-breath. A very different feeling arises when we become aware of the powerful presence of divine grace that has allowed us to experience more than we ever could have without divine support. On those occasions, we feel something else. We feel awe. We are amazed, inspired, and yes, grateful.

The distinction between relief and awe is a good indicator. It gives us a glimpse into how expansive our life is, how awesome it is or can be.

 

Gratitude Practice

Gratitude stretches us to be bigger, to expand our consciousness, to open our hearts and our minds more fully. When we begin the practice of cultivating gratitude, we often notice that it’s generally easier to feel grateful for what we like, for what we want or find pleasant. It’s more difficult to experience gratitude when what comes our way is unwanted.

I once worked with a woman who had an amazing gratitude practice. It was so pervasive that it was contagious. I found myself feeling grateful for her because her grateful attitude made our encounters so pleasant. Her responses frequently surprised me and helped me to expand my perspective. This was her practice: Whatever I offered her, she responded with a genuine “Thank you!” Her response was always the same. If I offered her my praise and gratitude for something she did well, she would thank me. If I let her know that she had made a mistake or that something was not done well or right, her response was still “Thank you!” This was the key that made this practice so effective. She was truly grateful, her words accompanied by a genuine smile. She never gave one of those “thank you” nods accompanied by a smirk. How did she do that? I never asked her, but my guess is that she was a natural at cultivating spiritual awakening through selfless service. She did what she did as an offering, as her way of worship. She was grateful when it went well, and she was grateful when it did not because that gave her an opportunity to learn.

Being able to say “thank you” to what comes, both pleasant and unpleasant, is unconditional gratitude. “Thank you” can be said aloud when appropriate, or silently as a prayer, but let’s say it! We can practice offering gratitude for something or someone that has pleased us and for something or someone that has not. The first is easy. The second, not so easy. It becomes easier as we hold that whatever comes into our life and experience always brings an opportunity for us. What will we do with that opportunity? When we meet it with gratitude, our potential to prosper and grow in love is multiplied.

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Ellen Grace O’Brian is the author of The Jewel of Abundance and director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose, CA. Ellen is a yogacharya (an esteemed yoga teacher), a radio host, and an award-winning poet who weaves poetry into her teachings on spiritual matters, pointing to the mystical experience beyond words and thought. Ordained by a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, she has been teaching Kriya Yoga philosophy and practice nationally and internationally for over three decades. Visit her online at www.ellengraceobrian.com.

 

Excerpted from the book The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga. Copyright ©2018 by Ellen Grace O’Brian. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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29 Oct

Motivation – The Two Types.

Everyone seems to want motivation.

While I have written many articles on this topic, let’s discuss the two types of motivation, and how you can benefit from them.

Renowned goal setting expert, the late Brian Leaning-Mizen wrote about the two types of motivation in his very enlightening book, Beyond Dreaming.  

He said that people are motivated, based on two things:

  1. Fear
  2. Incentive

As a certified Life Coach and a qualified Counsellor, I concur with that.

Instead of the word “incentive”, I like to use the word “desire”.

People want motivation to do things due to either a fear or a desire.

Let’s look at both of them in detail:

  1. Fear based motivation – the most common, or the clearest example of this is the number one fear in western society (the fear of public speaking). I can vouch for this because there was a time in my life when I used to shake and sweat before delivering a speech or a presentation. Imagine that you have to deliver a speech at an upcoming conference or a wedding. What would you do? First, you may look for ways to control or even hide your fear. Second, you might look for tips on public speaking. You might even consider joining a public speaking club like Toastmasters International, or you might take a short course in public speaking. Whatever you do, your actions will be driven by the fear of public speaking. You will be motivated to overcome this fear. You might spend money on a public speaking course. Or, you might spend your evenings in attending a Toastmasters International club’s meetings. Regardless of how tired you are on the night, you will be motivated to attend the club meeting because your fear of public speaking will be motivating you to go.
  2. Desire based motivation – a clear and common example of this is weight loss. A person’s desire to have a leaner and fitter body will motivate them to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal. They will focus on how good it will feel when they are in the shape that they desire so much. Their actions will be dictated by that desire. They will find motivation to take the necessary action steps in order to achieve their goal. Let’s imagine that they have a class at their gym to attend in the evening. It will not matter if it is raining and cold or if it is hot and humid. This person will be motivated to attend that class at the gym because their desire will give them motivation to drive their actions. If this person has to go to a work lunch where there will be unhealthy food on offer, they will resist the temptation, and will stick to a healthy meal. Even if their colleagues are indulging in eating cakes and sweets, this person will stick to their healthy meal. Why? They have a burning desire to get their desired physique. The more they think about being in their best shape, the more motivation they will find/get. Their desire will override any temptations.

At this point, you might be wondering “Is desire based motivation better than fear based motivation, or vice versa?”

The answer to that question (in my humble opinion) is “No”.

One is not “better” than the other, purely because they both give you motivation to take action that will lead you to get what you want. As you might already know, the right action steps are very powerful, regardless of the motivation behind them.

The one suggestion that I have for you is this – if you are driven by fear based motivation, be mindful of your language patterns. For example, instead of saying to yourself “I don’t like the fear of public speaking”, say “I want to be confident in public speaking”. Put a positive reference to it. What you say to yourself is very impactful. Try this short exercise for a moment – close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say the word “Confident” aloud. How do you feel after doing that? Chances are, you feel confident.

Your words can be instrumental in creating your feelings. Use encouraging words when you are driven by fear based motivation.

Quote: “Everything that you currently do well might have seemed to be difficult or even impossible at one time.”  Brian Leaning-Mizen

I sincerely hope that you have gained insights into how you can use the two types of motivation to your advantage.

Influencing you to your excellence,
Ron

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11 Oct

Are Your Thoughts Derailing Your Resilience?

An excerpt from Resilience by Linda Graham

Everyone knows what it’s like to be knocked off center, to lose their inner sense of balance and groundedness, at least temporarily, when faced with life’s unwanted curve balls. Whether it’s a troubling health diagnosis, the death of a loved one, a serious car accident, a layoff, or a natural disaster, life can intensely challenge our resilience.

In Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster (New World Library, October 2, 2018), author and psychotherapist Linda Graham, MFT, guides readers step by step through a process of cultivating more well-being in their lives by strengthening their resilience so that they can respond skillfully to any upset or catastrophe that would derail that well-being. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

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Sometimes your thoughts can drive you crazy, blocking clear thinking and impeding response flexibility. Sometimes your thoughts trigger further thoughts, evaluations, judgments, and condemnations that reduce your resilience. These thought patterns are ways of filtering reality that can be counterproductive.

You can learn to work mindfully with your thoughts, and with all the amazing, creative, dazzling constructs of your default network mode, especially when those constructs turn dark or constricting, so that you can also experience their coming and going. Even your deeply held beliefs about the truth of the way things are can shift. And you can come to understand the processes of your brain that create, install, and defend those constructs to the death.

Here’s a list of common thought processes that human beings use to filter their experience.

  1. Assumptions: We learn from past experience, and based on that experience we sometimes think we know more than we know. We filter our perceptions of reality through those assumptions rather than seeing clearly what is actually true or needed now.
  2. Projections: We assume that what we have learned is true for ourselves is true for other people as well. We project our assumptions onto them, usually without their knowledge or permission, abandoning theory of mind.
  3. Objectification: We lose the sense of ourselves or another person as an active agent of changing experience. Instead we see ourselves (and others) as an object, a thing, an “It” at the mercy of external events and other people’s choices, powerless to change our experience (or our responses to it).
  4. Mind reading: We presume we know what another person is thinking, feeling, or needing without empathically checking with them. Or we may presume that the other person already knows what we think or need without bothering to tell them directly: “If you loved me, you would know how I feel.”
  5. Discounting the positive: We fail to register positive traits in ourselves or in others, belittling ourselves, devaluing others, and deflecting or neglecting appreciation in either direction.
  6. Overgeneralizing: We may exaggerate attributes of an experience, perceiving things as global and pervasive, applying to everything and everybody; we see things as “always” or “never.” We may take things personally whether or not that’s true or relevant, seeing things as permanent and unchanging. (This overgeneralizing is known as the three Ps: pervasive, personal, permanent.)
  7. Catastrophizing: We may immediately assume the worst: if we sneeze, we assume we’re catching a cold, which means missing work for three weeks, which means losing the job, which means losing our home — from sniffle to disaster in less than three seconds.
  8. Black-and-white thinking: We see everything in categorical terms, with no shades of gray, few options, and no possibilities of compromise. This rigidity in thinking, which can lead to a serious derailing of response flexibility, is also known as neural cement.
  9. Inability to disconfirm: We are so rigid in our opinions that no new information can change them.

You may recognize similar patterns in your thinking.

Exercise: Identifying Thought Processes That Derail Resilience

  1. Review the list above. Identify any of these patterns you recognize as operational in you or in people you know, without attaching any shame or blame. For now, simply acknowledge any patterns you identify that you might want to rewire later.
  2. Pick one pattern relevant to you that you’re willing to investigate; it need not be the one that is most difficult for you.
  3. Track this pattern in your thinking for a week. Notice when this pattern is operating in your thinking; notice when it’s not.

Becoming aware of your common patterns of perceiving and responding, and acknowledging them in your conscious awareness, is essential if you want to rewire them. Steadying your awareness with more and more difficult objects of awareness is reflective resilience.

Mental constructs can be very stable and long-lasting, more like the climate you live in than the weather that changes from day to day. Emotions that might flit through your awareness in a matter of minutes or half a day (weather) can settle into a longer-lasting mood (climate). The moods we deem negative — depression, discouragement, despair — are the ones we’re more likely to notice and want to shift than the lighter-hearted moods of joy or contentment.

As human beings, we adopt roles, preferences, priorities, and goals that filter our perceptions and shape our responses over long periods of time. We prioritize family over work, or work over family, based on deeply held values and convictions. We construct entire philosophies of living, belief systems, and identities that filter our perceptions and response to reality. Formulating values to live by is part of resilience: they are part of a moral compass that guides our life choices. But locking ourselves into values that cannot be changed in response to new experiences is not resilient.

At this stage of new conditioning, you’re simply training your awareness to realize that any thought is a product of the processes of your brain, and thus any thought can change. Entire patterns of thought, no matter how complex, can change. Roles, preference, priorities, and even entire belief systems can change over time — and they do.

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Linda Graham, MFT, is the author of Resilience and also Bouncing Back, the winner of a 2013 Books for a Better Life Award. She is an experienced psychotherapist who integrates modern neuroscience, mindfulness practices, and relational psychology in her international trainings on resilience and well-being. Visit her online at www.lindagraham-mft.net.

 

Excerpted from the book Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster. Copyright ©2018 by Linda Graham. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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10 Sep

To Find the Love of Your Life, Know Your Dosha!

Ask anyone and you’ll get the same answer: What’s the most important thing in life? Love! We want to be in love, and we want that love to last. So how do we go about finding that one person to share our lives with? And how do we live happily ever after with that person once we find him or her?

There are many ways of looking at our compatibility with other people – such as the Mars/Venus theories, and the Love Signs system based on astrology, among others. But long before any of these formulas were even a twinkle in the cosmos, philosophers and scientists in Ancient India devised a system of health care called “Ayurveda” – or “the science of life.” Within this holistic system lies everything we need to know about love.

Ayurveda explains the nature of everything in the universe. It is a compelling way of looking at all of life, the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Ayurveda “types” people according to both their physical features and personality traits. Ayurveda tells us how we “tick,” and how we relate to the rest of the world, including the other people in it!

Once we understand the basics of Ayurveda, we see that we can get along with anyone. There are no “bad” matches! So whether you want to end the squabbling with your mate, you’re having a hard time with your boss, or your boyfriend just can’t commit, with this system of Ancient Indian Love Matches, you’ll find ways to make the relationship work.

It is impossible to go through this life alone. We all have relationships, people in our lives to interact with. The purpose of those relationships is to help us learn and grow. And more than that, the purpose of any relationship is to help us learn more about ourselves and who we really are.

When we understand who we are, and why we are here, everything seems to fall into place. We’re happier, more content, and we feel our connection to the universe. We attract like-minded people into our lives and our relationships become stronger.

As important as our relationships are to us, how much time and effort do we really put into them? So often we go about living our lives and expect that another person either fits into that picture or doesn’t. But we each have needs, and temperaments, and ideas about how we like things to be. When we better understand ourselves, and each other, we can focus on what is important, and what makes a relationship work.

When I first learned about Ayurveda, I was impressed with how simple and clear it made everything to me. The whole system just makes sense, and you can apply it to anything in your life! I’ve read lots of books about Ayurveda, and even more books on relationships, but I’ve never come across one book that applied this age-old system to our very modern-day relationships. So I decided to work it out myself, and that is how my book, “What’s Your Dosha, Baby? Discover the Vedic Way for Compatibility in Life and Love” came about.

Because Ayurveda sees people as three different mind/body types, or “doshas,” there are basically nine different “Love Matches” (3 x 3). Of course in reality there are an infinite number of combinations, because no two people are exactly alike in any particular way, but we’re keeping the numbers manageable here! Once you find out your particular dosha (free online quiz at www.whatsyourdosha.com), and the dosha of the person with whom you are in relationship, then you can look up the chapter that corresponds to the two of you. Here you’ll find clues as to how you interact with each other, your communication styles (physical and emotional as well), instinctual preferences with regards to food, travel, lifestyle and work among others. This system shows us how we can please each other and ourselves at the same time. It shows us how we can live in harmony with those around us by recognizing a person’s natural qualities and bringing more love into the world

If you are looking to understand or strengthen a relationship with someone other than your mate – say, a colleague or friend or child – it will help you with that, too. And because we all have a unique relationship with our environment, there are principles called “Vastu” we can use. Through our use of space and color, we can create an environment where we feel inspired and blissful.

Love is an amazing phenomenon, and the reason that all of us are here. It’s worth our study, our attention. Why are we attracted to the people we are attracted to? Why is that we feel as if we “can’t help” who we fall in love with? What is the chemistry that draws us to certain people?

We may never figure ourselves out. Or maybe we already have. Maybe the ancient texts are right and all the answers we will ever need are available to us now… we just need to keep learning and growing until we finally “get it.”

One thing’s for sure, finding love and connection is one of the most important – and pleasurable – things we come here to do. My hope is that Ayurveda, with its ancient Indian secrets for keeping love burning bright, will not only help you in your process of self-discovery but enable you to find and nourish the love matches of your dreams.

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