Hope for the Future

Many of us are happy and joyful as we celebrate this Christmas Day. And many of us also have some sadness, some worry and some concern about the future. Years ago, I stopped watching the news and it released me from depression and hopelessness. Lately I have noticed that after two minutes on Facebook my warm fuzzies of happiness change to devastation and political divide. For my sanity, I may need to begin limiting my social media consumption soon too. The truth is, even if we remove the news from coming to us, essentially hiding our heads in the sand, the world will still continue to get worse, right?

Or are things really getting worse?

I found two great TED talks you should check out. The first talk I found by Hans Rosling was in 2006. In this first talk, he begins to question what we really know about what is happening in the world.  I encourage you to watch the video and see how what you think is actually based on your perception of the world and, if you are like me, you don’t know much more than the literal monkeys surveyed. The point of this talk was that if we don’t look at the real hard data, we don’t see the positive changes in and the real progress of the world. The negativity we see and experience every day is based on our perception. Our perception is based on what we learned in the past. Therefore we are living in the non-progressing negativity of the past instead of the hopeful reality of today.

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

The second talk by Hans Rosling and his son doesn’t just show how our thinking is skewed. Instead, they also provide us with tangible ways we can look for and truly see the real data. It is when we can see the real data that we can create ways to make real change, or at least sleep at night knowing life is progressing in a positive fashion.  These gentlemen postulate that we all have embraced preconceived ideas as reality. Our beliefs are based on our personal bias due to growing up in homogenized neighborhoods, to the unfortunate fact that we are taught outdated world views in schools, and due to biased news which focuses on rare events and sensationalized fear.

Here is what they suggest to help us start creating a realistic worldview:

  • Instead of focusing on and believing that everything is getting worse, focus on the fact that most things do improve (and they have the data to prove it).
  • Although there is a real gap between the rich and the poor, remember that most people are in the middle of the curve. And that the middle of the bell curve is growing, meaning more of us are living better.
  • Money is not needed to make social improvements. The inverse is true. Social improvements actually lead to increase in personal and national wealth.
  • We may have news, and now even fake news, but we control our consumption. We are often drawn to sensational and unusual events therefore we are fed more and more of these. Stop consuming the sensational, stop feeding your fears, and focus on the true daily facts of our world.

As we move into 2019, don’t focus on the past. Don’t expect things to get worse. Don’t let the past hold you back. Don’t bring the heartbreaks of the last year into the new year. Look at things with open eyes. Look to the new year with hopeful eyes. And usher in the positivity and hope the world needs today.

giving a rose

To Give is to Receive

I am not a relationship coach, but I often work with clients who are seeking a real, long-lasting relationship. Often times they are depressed and desperate. They are upset that this amazing relationship has not come into their lives yet. From my side of the desk, it is easy to see how no one would be attracted to someone who is desperate and depressed. I encourage them to start being the person they want to date. If you want someone with a good sense of humor, smile, laugh and joke more often. If you want someone who enjoys an adventure, get out every weekend and try something new. If you want someone who enjoys travel, book a trip. If you want someone who jogs, schedule time every day to get a run in. If you want someone who loves freely and completely, start loving others. If they follow my advice, worse case scenario is they begin living the life and being the person that will truly make them happy. Best case scenario, by being all they desire to be, they will attract someone like-minded.

giving a rose
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The best way I have found to receive what we want, is to give it out. Often, what we send out into the world is what we receive ten-fold.

Don’t ask people to love you. Be love.

Don’t desire to be accepted. Be acceptance.

Don’t long for someone to comfort you. Reach out to comfort someone else.

Don’t pray for someone to forgive you. Forgive those who have hurt you.

Be the experience you want to have. Give to others what you wish to receive. In giving we also receive, and often we will receive more by giving to other, than others could ever give in the first place.

Be careful not to give to get. Do not give to receive immediately or directly from the person to which you are giving. Give to your mother and you may receive from your friend. Give to a stranger and you may receive from your boss. This is not quid pro quo. It is not like going to a store and exchanging money for the thing we want. This is open, honest, and non-expectant giving. The second you do something in order to receive, you stop the flow. Your giving must be done freely, with love, and without the expectancy of receiving in return. It is the unattachment from the result of giving that leads to receiving.

As with the example of looking for a relationship, giving freely of what you want to experience leads you to experience that thing. What we feel by giving is deeper than if someone tried to give us these experiences, because so many times we do not accept what others are giving to us. How many times has someone tried and failed to cheer you up when you are down? They can not give you what you don’t want to receive. They can’t give you what you can not embody yourself. By first embodying what we want to receive, it opens us up to accept more.

For the next few days experiment being the emotional states you want to receive. Give to others freely what you want to receive yourself. How does it feel to give without expectation? How does embodying what you want to receive feel different than when you actually receive it from others? See for yourself if it is not more beneficial to give than to receive.

Días del Muerte

Life Goes On

After three years in Mexico, this was the first year my husband and participated in Días de Muertos. I wanted to create an altar and I wanted to do it correctly. My Spanish teacher sent me this link explaining the tradition. The first thing I learned was that it was not a single day but a series of days – hence días not día del muerte. Each day is designed to remember a different category of those we have lost. One day is for lost and helpless. Another day is for children who left too early. On each day a different item is added to the altar to symbolize a different type of departed. For instance, bread is added for those who left suddenly without their last meal and fruit is added for our ancestors – they are the fruit, we are the seeds. Días de Muertos is a terrific tradition for remembrance, gratitude, and surprisingly, joy.

Días del MuerteThousands of years old, Días de Muertos originated with ancient Central American cultures who thought it was disrespectful to mourn the dead. Death is part of life and this celebration is designed to keep the memory and spirit of those we love alive. For my husband and me, it was exactly that. Having an altar of those we love and have lost, kept them top of mind for us this past week. We thought about them and shared stories – happy and sad. For us, it did seem that they took the flower petal road to come visit us again for just a little bit. If you haven’t seen Coco, you can watch this short animation about the tradition.

Ironically (or as I say, Spectacularly Perfect), I had planned to write today’s post about a very different video I saw about Paul McCartney. I was surprised when that video fit perfectly into the concept of Días de Muertos. About five minutes into the video (4:55-7:35), Sir Paul shares a beautiful story about a visit he had from his departed mother through a dream.  He had been worrying about the band and their future. She told him, “It’s going to be ok. Just let it be.” As he wrote afterwards in the famous song, “In my hour of darkness, she is standing right in from of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” Through this dream he felt a connection to his mother and the reassurance he needed at the time. Have you ever had messages from the beyond? Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, have you received a message in a dream or just a pop of insight that helped you through a difficult patch? Many times in my life I have felt those I loved around me, supporting me, providing me with guidance, just letting me know I am not taking this journey alone.

The whole James Corden Late Late Show video of Sir Paul is worth the watch. One of the other things that is interesting is to see all the different lives Sir Paul has had, from his humble beginnings to the fame he has now. Life is every changing. No moment stays forever. No one is always with us. It is important to be in each and every moment, to be fully present for all that life offers us.

Take a bit today to remember those you have known and all the support they have given you before and after they were physically around you. Take a trip down memory lane and review the highs and the lows. Look at the miracle of the amazing journey of your life.

carry water

Walk the Talk

A friend introduced me to an author and the founder of a new system to activate the use of our whole brain. After reading weeks of his posts, I don’t think there is validity to his system which is another get-enlightenment-quick scheme. But I did find one of his initial posts poignant.

In this post, he talks about how “awakening is our beginning – not our end.” Awakening or enlightenment is the transcendence of our human minds and existence. Meditation, prayer, and numerous other tools help us transcend our physical lives and get a glimpse of the deeper meaning of life. The point he brings up is that this glimpse does not mean we are transformed forever. Enlightenment gives us the information for a better life, but then we need to choose to live that way each day.

carry waterIn my 20’s and early 30’s, I worked with a psychologist. Early on he put me on a medication. It was a very low dose, but it was enough to help me feel what life could be without stress. It didn’t, however, take my stress away. It showed me that life could be different, but it didn’t make my life different. The medication showed me that it was possible and then I had to work every day to maintain that stress-free feeling. My daily actions, the daily habits I created and utilized were the things that made a difference in how I experienced life. The medication showed me the possibility, but it did not alter my long-term experience. I had to do that.

Many experiences in Peru gifted me with amazing insight into the beyond, how we are all one, and the truest meaning of life. It was there that I also learned the old phrase, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” We may glimpse the amazing truth beyond our human existence, but then we still need to live on earth with traffic jams, bickering families during holidays, and irate managers. Having a moment of enlightenment does not changes us. Trying to live our lives based on what we gleam from that moment of enlightenment is what changes us.

The first book I wrote, From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It, was designed to help you wake up. It was meant to show you that there is a different way. Hopefully in using the tools in the book you can experience a pop of transcendence here and there, or at least begin to see that there is a better, more joyful, move loving, more peaceful way to live. Currently I am working on two new books, one that is meant to help us learn to walk the talk of enlightenment. The difficulty is not finding enlightenment, but to experience a higher form of living each and every day, no matter what is going on around us. And sorry, but this takes work and effort, it is not found in some new age tool that will automatically leap you into this new way of being.

Have you had a moment of transcendence? If so, share with us here. As you go about your day, be aware of how often you are in – and out – of that loftier way of being. How often are you triggered by situations or individuals? How often do you fall into depression, anger or resentment? Can you pull yourself out of these negative experiences and back into the transcendent experience you desire?

top stress events

Stress Levels

A few months ago, I wrote a post about handling life’s top stressors which included a link to determine one’s personal stress level. To date, this unscientific survey has uncovered that almost 20% of respondents are experiencing high levels of stressful events. The remaining respondents are fairly split between medium and low amounts of stressors. Changes in living situation, health, and working or financial conditions are some of the most widely experienced stressors, as are vacations and major holidays.

For you lucky ones who have a low amount of stress due to life events, congratulations!  You are free to stop reading and go back to enjoying your life.

top stress events
Top Stress Events

For those experiencing medium to high stress based on life event stressors, it is time to look at your stress coping tools to ensure you have them, are using them, and that they are helping you through this time. We may not be able to control the stressful events that come into our lives, but we can control how we handle these stressors. The key is to recognize your stress triggers, how you personally respond to stress, and then use your tools to minimize the effects of stress.

When we are in the midst of stressful situations, we may feel like we do not have bandwidth to learn how to react any differently. But that is not true.  Three simple tools to take back your life from stress no matter what you are experiencing are outlined in this free online course. Even in the most challenging situations, these tools can help you center, clear your mind, and stop being a victim to the stressful event. You have the power to reduce the effects of stress and it does not take much time or effort to get started.

Many of the respondents to the survey noted that changes in work conditions, work hours, and work responsibilities are current stressors in their lives. We often spend more time at work than home, so learning how to reduce and manage stress in the workplace is very important. Improving our stress levels at work improves our health and well-being while also improving productivity for our businesses. Plus, when colleagues all understand how to identify and manage stress they can become coaches for each other to help prevent and minimize the effects of stress in the workplace creating a more peaceful collaborative atmosphere. Because of the immense need and the amazing benefits, I now help bring some stress relief to small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and association members through customized virtual workshops, online self-study courses, and check-in group meetings.

If you have not taken the stress inventory survey yet, check it out to grow the awareness of how current life events are affecting the amount of stress you are experiencing. Become aware of how you react to stress. Without awareness you can not make any changes. At one time or another, we are all affected by stressful situations. They are unavoidable. What is avoidable is adding unnecessary stress to our experience because we are not prepared to handle the event. Whether personally or through your business, is it time to take learn how to better manage your stress?

biscuits

Better than Biscuits

Are you going through some things you don’t like? Are you having some challenges? Are things not going the way you planned?

I received this story from my mother-in-law the other day:

A visiting priest was attending a men’s breakfast in farm country. He asked one of the impressive older farmers in attendance to say grace that morning. After all were seated, the older farmer began, “Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The priest opened one eye and wondered to himself where this was going. Then the farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.”

Now the priest was very worried. However, without missing a beat, the farmer prayed on, “And Lord, you know I don’t care much for raw white flour.”

Just as the priest was ready to stand up and stop everything, the farmer continued, “But Lord, when you mix’ em all together and bake ‘em up, I do love fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we just don’t understand what you are sayin’ to us, we just need to relax and wait ‘til you are don’ mixin’, and probably it will be somethin’ even better than biscuits. Amen.”

biscuits
Photo and Recipe from http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/our-favorite-buttermilk-biscuit

What is being mixed together for you right now? What are the less than desirable individual parts?  Can you hold the faith that when everything settles down and comes together, that it will be better than you imagine?

During trying times, one of the thoughts that keeps us down is that whatever happening is the new forever reality, that we are fated to experience this bad occurrence for eternity. When we can get a moment of clarity, we know this is not true. All things – bad and good – do not last forever. If we can just hold on we will see that this too shall pass. Focus on making it through this moment and then the next, until things change for the better. As Kimmie Schmidt says, “A person can handle anything for about ten seconds.” So, when times are rough, take them ten seconds at a time until things resolve.

Another tool to help you through difficult times is to start putting together biscuits. Look back at some of your previous trying times. When were you dealt a difficult hand? When did it seem you were having one issue after another? Then look one week, one month, one year into the future. What did those struggles actually gift you with? What would you not have now if you did not go through that challenge?

One biscuit I can put together is leaving Los Angeles. After being kicked out of graduate school, I worked for an awesome company that went from profitable to bankrupt in two years, and for good measure, throw in being held up at gunpoint and losing a dear friend. That was a lot of lard, flour and buttermilk. But if those things did not happen, I would not have returned to Chicago and reconnected with the man who would become my husband and partner.

Look back at your life and realize your own biscuit stories. Then when life throws some lard at you, take it ten seconds at a time until you see your biscuit coming together.