March 31, 2011

Do or Don't: Equally Important

Every action taken affects the whole as greatly as every action NOT taken.

Life is sculpted on a moment-to-moment basis. Every one of the thoughts we think, the words we speak, and the actions we take contributes to the complex quality and character of the universe’s unfolding. It simply is not possible to be alive without making an impact on the world that surrounds us.

When we neglect to recycle, speak up, vote, or help somebody in immediate need, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to be an agent for positive change. Instead, we are enabling a particular course to continue unchallenged, picking up speed even as it goes along.

By holding the belief that our actions don’t make much of a difference, we may find that we often tend to forego opportunities for involvement. Alternatively, if we see ourselves as important participants in an ever-evolving world, we may feel more inspired to contribute our unique perspective and gifts to a situation.

We affect the whole! What may seem to us as insignificant, our actions count. Whether it is remaining peaceful, offering a kind word to a friend, giving resources to people in need, or just taking responsibility for our own all affects not only us but the greater whole. By doing what we can, when we can, we add positive energy to our world. And sometimes, it may be our one contribution that makes all the difference. (Based on The Daily OM)

March 28, 2011

Choosing Happiness

Some people seem to be born with sunny dispositions, and no matter what happens to them their glass always remains half full. Those of us who were not blessed with this perennial cheerful outlook can choose happiness.

I'm not referring to the type of fleeting happiness a financial windfall, an achievement, or a new coveted possession might bring. There is a deeper and sustaining happiness which depends completely on you. Simply put, don't do what makes you unhappy. Do what makes you happy. (If you find yourself arguing with what you have just read, ask if arguing makes you happy.:-)
Become aware of and take control of what you do.

Choices and Values Lead to Real Happiness (Deepak Chopra)
  • Meditation, which opens up deeper levels of the mind.
  • Actions that benefit others.
  • Social relationships that support intimacy and bonding.
  • Inspiration through reading the world's scriptures and poetry.
  • Taking enjoyment in natural beauty.
  • Having a vision of personal fulfillment that you follow every day.
  • Aiming for inner fulfillment rather than external fulfillment.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Taking time for peaceful reflection.
  • Learning to love your own company, cultivating the self as a state of being.
  • Eschewing violence and anger in all its forms, gross and subtle.
  • Resolving conflicts, both inner and outer, rather than letting them build up.
  • Paying one's debt to the past, which means healing old hurts and grievances.
  • Stepping away from group think and second-hand opinions.
  • Giving up a belief in enemies and us-versus-them thinking.
  • Cultivating kindness and compassion.
  • Being generous of spirit, learning to give.
  • Seeing yourself as part of a larger humanity, and humanity itself as an expression of the divine, despite our flaws.

March 27, 2011

The Know-It-All

Getting derailed is a normal part of life, especially so when tired or out of one's comfort zone. Knowing this enabled me to enjoy the incredible blessings of a Safari in spite of feeling off-center and hurt by some personal interactions.

Living happily requires tools and the skill to use them. I think most of us avoid that which we can, until we absolutely cannot any longer. I think that's a lot like not learning to drive a car and then when forced to drive in an emergency, winding up in a ditch. And, oh, how I wish I had known this years ago! :-)

But, it's never too late to learn skills. Specific relationships may end, but new ones follow and repeated behavior is never any less painful.

Overly simplified, but still excellent, is this from the Daily OM. If you have a Know-It-All in your life, the beginning is understanding:

A person that is a know-it-all is usually afraid of listening because it has become completely unfamiliar to listen.

Most of us have encountered a person in our lives who can accurately be referred to as a know-it-all. This person seems to know everything about anything that gets brought up and tends to dominate the conversation. They don’t take well to being questioned, and they have a hard time ever admitting that they were wrong.

Being around a know-it-all is inevitably tiring because there is no shared energy between the two of you. Rather, you become an audience member to this person’s need to be the center of attention. Attention and respect are probably the two things this person most longs for, and at some point in their lives, they learned that knowing it all was the way to get those needs met. Over time, they have become stuck in this pattern, regardless of the fact that it is no longer working. They may feel afraid of the experience of listening, being receptive, or learning something new, because it’s so unfamiliar.

On the one hand, when we see the childlike need underneath the know-it-all’s mask of confidence, we feel compassion for the person, and we may tolerate their one-sided approach to conversation out of a desire not to hurt their feelings. On the other hand, we may be feeling drained and tempted to avoid this person altogether.

In the middle of these two possible ways of feeling, we may actually like this person and wish for a closer relationship. If we come from a place of kindness, we might attempt to bridge the gap that this person’s habitual way of relating creates. Simply expressing a desire to be closer may open their heart, and give you a chance to ask for what you need in the relationship—a chance to contribute.

March 9, 2011

Oil For Your Lamp

Though we know that that it's important to take care of our families, our pets, homes, and possessions, many of us have forgotten that we require the same level of loving attention. The more our focus is on others, the more we are likely to have overlooked ourselves.

But, where are we to find the time? This is like asking how we will ever find the time to put gas in our cars!:-)

(This blog will be on vacation until the beginning of April.)

March 8, 2011

Our Story

Your life begins the moment that you realize that you are not a product of what happens to you... that "what happens to you" is actually a product of what you personally create or accept from others as your own reality. Ingrid Vargas
Our story is what we tell ourselves and others, based on our own interpretation...the way we see things. If, for example, someone abused us verbally in the past, we can say that 1. We irritated people with our behavior, 2. There was much stress in our life, 3. We lived with a really bad person, 4. The person needed anger management....etc. etc. etc.....It's possible to have as many versions of the same happening as there are people. We choose our story.

Our happiness depends on how we choose to interpret what happens around us. Do your friends not enjoy talking with you or are they too busy to call you? In every case, you have a choice in the story you tell. Strive to tell a better one! :-)

David Krueger, MD has some good suggestions

Repeat: Are you repeating an old story hoping for a better outcome?

The software developed for past experiences shape current perception and processing. The brain perceives things in ways it has been trained to do. The challenge is twofold: we need regular software updates, much like our computer; we can only imagine within our current system.

Rationalize: Do you dismiss or compromise any aspect of your life story?

Warning signs include personal compromise, conflict with other people, limited success, unhappiness, or not being able to convert your talent into corresponding income.

Recognize: Are your needs, ideals, passion, and talents all going in the same direction?

If your life or business story is not satisfying, or if you haven't attained your objectives, look more closely: You are always reaching your goals, whether they are conscious or unconscious. It is helpful to know consciously and specifically what those goals are.

Reorganize: Do all the storylines fit and advance the plot of your life story?

Once becoming aware of active choice, you can decide what's in your best interest, what furthers your story. And what doesn't. Neuroscientist Gregory Berns examines the science of thinking differently—iconoclasts in particular—to emphasize how we need to put ourselves in new situations to see things differently and boost creativity.

  • Be aware of the categories that you use for a person or idea - in order to go beyond or outside them.
  • Seek out environments in which you have no experience.
  • Bring together ideas from different disciplines.
  • Engage a Mentor or Coach to challenge new ways of looking at things.
  • PSYCH-K is an excellent technique with which to address unconscious beliefs.
  • Follow intuition and gut feelings: write them down.
  • Schedule an appointment with yourself to brainstorm: a stream of consciousness not bound by usual categories.

March 3, 2011

Crying, continued

People with a history of trauma have been found to cry more. It's not known whether this is because the individual revisits their trauma or whether the trauma affected the nervous system or emotional make-up...something akin to post traumatic stress disorder.

People often refer to a cry as a good cry and say they feel better afterward. In a study of Dutch women, it was found that women scored high on depression or anxiety measures, they were likely to feel worse after crying.

If you aren't a crier yourself, you might feel awkward, useless, or uncomfortable around those who cry. That's because when someone cries, it shows their vulnerability. Not everyone is comfortable with such intimacy.

So, how can you -- and how should you -- respond to a crier? Here are four tips:
  • Be aware that if you do nothing, you can make the crier feel worse.
  • Try to do something supportive. What that is depends on the situation and how well you know the person.
  • Don't assume you know how to comfort them. The less intimate the relationship, the more it is appropriate to begin by asking how you can help and be supportive.
Too many tears can make observers uncomfortable, but never crying may not be mentally healthy. British psychiatrist Henry Maudsley, says, "The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep."