Archive for September, 2010

26 sep

How Monkeys, Jam and Fencing Can Help You Make Decisions Quickly and Confidently

RenitaKalhornEquinox Gym has 18 locations in New York City, and I have an all-access pass, which means I can go to any of them. This offers fantastic variety for mixing up my workouts but also means that planning my workouts each week can become a logistical nightmare.

In addition to choosing between my eight or nine regular classes, I have to factor in whether one of my favorite instructors is teaching, travel time to the gym, proximity to a business meeting and whether there are two classes I can take back-to-back — the permutations are mind-boggling. On days that my brain is overloaded, I have been known to waffle over the possibilities until I have no choice but to scramble to the last available class of the day!

This is a pretty typical example, I think, of how our options in the information age have multiplied exponentially. More choice means more decisions: Who and when to marry, when or if to have children, whether to take the overseas job promotion, rent or buy, Mac or PC, sparkling or tap – the sheer volume of decisions we face can be overwhelming, to the point that we can’t decide at all.

Have you heard of the famous jam study? In The Art of Choosing, Columbia University professor Sheena Iyengar tells about the experiment she and her research assistants carried out at a local San Francisco supermarket. Posing as reps for Wilkin & Sons, they set up a table where they presented various jams for sampling. Periodically during the day, they switched between offering 24 flavors and six flavors; everyone who stopped by the table was given a $1 coupon.

Now, this wouldn’t be the ‘famous jam study’ if the results had turned out as expected. And in fact, more of the people who had seen the small assortment — 30% — decided to buy jam. Only 3% of those who saw the larger assortment did. Interesting: even with something as basic as jam, people are more likely to buy when there are fewer choices.

Of course, not making a choice is also a decision. But decision by default rarely produces meaningful satisfaction. So, gym quandaries aside, here’s my cheat sheet for making decisions more quickly and confidently:

Determine what’s important to YOU. Too often, we try to make a decision without first getting clear on what we actually want. You may know very little about camera technology and still find yourself standing in front of the store display comparing megapixels, optical zoom, vibration reduction and countless other features that you didn’t even know existed. That’s backwards. First, determine what criteria are important to you (not the manufacturer, not the salesperson), and stop evaluating the ones that aren’t.

Decide and commit fully. Olympic fencer Jason Rogers says: “Indecision weakens your skills. Better to do the wrong thing with 100 percent of your effort than the right thing with 50 percent.” How often do you play it safe rather than going all out? Strong conviction in your decision can very well compensate for any flaws in your reasoning. While a habit of tentative execution — though it may not get you poked in the eye with a saber — will steadily gnaw away at your confidence. As Byron Katie says: “When we try to be safe, we live our lives being very, very careful; and we wind up having no lives.”

Factor in human nature. The collapse of the financial markets in recent years demonstrated, on a large scale, the human propensity to take greater risk to avoid loss than to achieve gain. Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University, was curious to see if she could trace the roots of our irrational economic behavior and created an experiment in which she taught monkeys to use money and engage in marketplace trading. Turns out, monkeys also demonstrate loss aversion, just like humans. It’s in our genes!

Elsewhere, humans are consistently inaccurate in their assessment of perceived vs. actual risk. As security technologist Bruce Schneier asserts: “People exaggerate spectacular but rare risks and downplay common risks. They worry more about earthquakes than they do about slipping on the bathroom floor, even though the latter kills far more people than the former. Similarly, terrorism causes far more anxiety than common street crime, even though the latter claims many more lives.

The take-home message: Knowing how our evolutionary tendencies can trip us up, we can compensate and consciously make smarter, more rewarding choices.

Make decisions from where you want to be. Consider this: Your best thinking got you where you are now. So if you want to improve an area of your life, you need to make different decisions. To start thinking like the person you want to be, adopt a role model (or two) — someone whose achievements or behavior you admire. When you’re feeling stymied, ask yourself: “What would [my role model] do?”

Make decisions quickly. Face it, you will never have complete information before making a decision. Three things that can make it easier to take the plunge: First, it’s easier to change the direction of a boat that’s already moving – the sooner you take action, the sooner you can course-correct. Second, though no-one enjoys making mistakes, that is where the most valuable learning is. The sooner you screw up, the sooner you know what doesn’t work.

Third, in his TED talk on what really makes us happy, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explains how, thanks to our “psychological immune system,” we overestimate the effect that events – positive or negative — will have on us. It stands to reason, the consequences of our decisions won’t affect us as long or as much as we think.

The bottom line? Successful people make more decisions.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Renita Kalhorn on September 26th, 2010 in New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

23 sep

What We CAN Change

MikeRobbins96My friend Rich came over to my office last week and we had a wonderful and authentic conversation about what’s going on in each of our lives right now. I’m so grateful to have people in my life like Rich whom I can talk to and get real.

Authenticity creates freedom and having people around us we can truly be ourselves with is so important.

Rich and I talked vulnerably about our relationships, our challenges, the things we’re most excited about, and some stuff we’d both like to change about ourselves and our lives.

As we were talking, Rich shared a great email with me he’d recently received about change:

What I CAN Change

  • You can’t change your entire life, you can only change your next action
  • You can’t change a relationship with a loved one, you can only change your next interaction
  • You can’t change your entire job, you can only change your next task
  • You can’t change your body composition, you can only change your next meal
  • You can’t change your fitness level, you can only start moving
  • You can’t de-clutter your entire life, you can only choose to get rid of one thing right now
  • You can’t eliminate your entire debt, you can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item
  • You can’t change the past, or control the future, you can only change what you are doing now
  • You can’t change everything, you can only change one, small thing…and that’s all it takes

Wow – what a great reminder of how life and change truly work.

As I reflected on the power, wisdom, and simplicity of this message, I started to realize how often I get impatient and frustrated with myself, especially in certain areas of my life, when I want to change to happen. This email reminded me how important it is to take things step by step, moment by moment.

While I do believe in thinking big, in breakthrough results, and in miraculous change – paradoxically, the way life tends to unfold and real change happens is one-step-at-a-time. And, when we remember this, we allow ourselves to be in the present moment, reclaim our true power, and eliminate a great deal of unnecessary worry, pain, and suffering.

As Lao-tzu taught us, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” Although we all know this and have heard this saying many times, the challenge for many of us is to remember it and live it on a daily basis.

Here are a few things you can do to practice living one-step-at-a-time:

  1. Make a list of some of the things you want to change, alter, or improve in your life right now. First of all, it’s important to remember that none of these changes will, in and of themselves, make you happy (only you can do that for yourself). That being said, positive change can be a wonderfully exciting and empowering thing for us to engage in and experience. Identifying what you want to change specifically is an essential first step.
  1. With each of these important things you want to change, think of some simple, small steps you can take (today or this week) that will move you in the direction you truly want. If you get stuck with any of them, ask for help. And, if you start to get overwhelmed, take a break and remember to keep things simple. These are what my friend Susan calls “micro-movements,” don’t let your ego take over and judge them as too small.
  1. Celebrate each step of the way. As you notice yourself making different choices, having new thoughts, and taking small, positive steps towards the changes you want; celebrate. And, if you find yourself forgetting, falling back into old patterns, or unable to take some of these simple actions, celebrate yourself for your awareness and honor your desire to change. Either way, celebrating and appreciating yourself is essential to the process.

By remembering what we can actually change and how change truly works, we’re able to create true miracles in our lives – one-step-at-a-time!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on September 23rd, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

23 sep

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

MikeRobbins96Do you believe your thoughts? If you’re anything like me, you probably do – especially the ones you think and obsess about most (i.e. the negative, critical ones). However, what if our thoughts aren’t true? In many cases, they’re not – they’re just stories we’ve made up over time and continue to perpetuate with our thinking, speaking, and acting.

This past weekend, my wife Michelle and I went to a day-long workshop with teacher and author Byron Katie. The workshop blew us both away. Katie (as she goes by) created a simple, but profound inquiry process more than twenty years ago called “The Work,” which consists of four questions and a “turnaround.”

To utilize “The Work” you identify a specific negative thought (a complaint, a judgment of another person or situation, or something you criticize about yourself) and then ask these four questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

After you have investigated your statement with the four questions, you’re ready to turn around the concept you’re questioning. Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement and see what you and the person, situation, or characteristic you’ve judged, actually have in common.

A statement can be turned around to the opposite, to the other and/or to the self. You then find a minimum of three genuine, specific examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

For example, let’s say you have an issue with your friend Joe. Your statement might be, “My friend Joe is too critical of me.” If you turn this around, it could be: “My friend Joe is accepting of me,” or “I am too critical of Joe,” or “I am too critical in general.” Then you’d look for multiple examples of where each of these “turnarounds” are true in your life.

The idea with this process isn’t to make yourself wrong or to live in fantasy land, it is to consciously question “reality.” Most of what we deem to be “real” (especially when it causes us to suffer) is made up of negative ideas, beliefs, judgments, and thoughts that we’ve come up with as a defense or justification. By questioning our “truths,” we expand our thinking and begin to see new possibilities. In other words, by not believing everything we think, we take back the power we often give away to our mind.

As I sat in the workshop and listened to Katie work with people one-on-one about some very intense circumstances and situations (grief, abuse, mistrust, guilt, conflict, and more), I was amazed by the freedom they were able to experience by simply inquiring into their negative thoughts and questioning them with an open mind.

It made me realize how many of my own judgments, complaints, and self criticisms go unchallenged and how I let my mind simply take over and run the show in certain areas of my life (especially the most “stressful” ones).

Not everything we think is true, thank goodness! The more willing we are to challenge our own thoughts and beliefs, the more peace and freedom we can create and experience in our work, our relationships, and our lives.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on September 23rd, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

12 sep

Today Is All We Have

JayForteA very close friend of a good friend of mine died this morning after a difficult battle with cancer. Everyone is really sad today. Sad because we miss this great person. Sad because whatever time we had with her was not enough. Sad because we won’t be able to make new memories together. But there is wisdom in this aspect of being human.

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen says in her book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, “…the view from the edge of life is so much clearer.” When we are faced with illness and our mortality, we realign the pieces of our life and focus on what is most important – who we touch in life and who touches us. We become wiser. And this wisdom is shared at the time of illness – ideally so we all learn and live that way each day, not just in a period of change and challenge.

Though we know this, few live with a great appreciation for the moment, the day and the people in our lives. Few of us learn this lesson until something catastrophic affects our lives.

Today is all we have. We don’t know about tomorrow. We don’t know about next week. This is not fatalistic – it is realistic. To me, this realization encourages the need for us to own each moment of our lives – to be really present. This reminds me on a daily basis that life is not a series of days to use up. Rather, life is the gift of days to use to add value, connect with others and transform the world. And everyday that our feet get to land on the floor, we get one more opportunity to be part of our world, and to bring it our best.

I find myself constantly distracted in running my own business. Because there is so much to handle, at the end of the day, I frequently don’t remember much of the day. Though I know better, I still lose sight that each moment of each day is never to be wasted or taken for granted. To that end, I am always trying to build in better “be in the moment” habits. Here are some that I find work for me:

1. Set the alarm 10 minutes earlier each day. Use the 10 minutes to think about 5 things you are grateful for. Soon you’ll find you won’t hit the snooze – you’ll look forward to your “grateful time,” and ten minutes won’t be enough. Be present.

2. Touch some part of nature. Hold onto a tree; smell flowers, grass or leaves. It connects you to this moment and the relationship that you and the planet have. You’ll also develop a greater responsibility to respect it and treat it well when it is an emotional part of your day. Be present.

3. Give someone a hug. It sounds cliché but as anyone who is on the edge of life will tell you, they crave the human touch – the moment of people and spirits connecting. Physical contact brings you into someone else’s space at this moment – and the two of you are in the moment together. You are very aware of time, of being present and feeling important to another person. Be present.

4. Smile. Even if there weren’t studies about the health effects of a positive attitude and behavior, a friendly and encouraging signal to another person impacts their world at that moment. This connection builds community. This connection creates a moment of memory in the day. Think how many people have changed your outlook just by a kind gesture, act or word. Be present.

5. Stare into a night sky and just imagine. Connect to the greatness of a moment by appreciating the size of our space – that you get to be in it, and what it feels like at this one particular moment. And when you watch the sky, you’ll notice it never remains the same – it constantly changes. Each moment is different. You become aware of each moment. You are part of each moment. Be present.

So, today is all we have. Find ways to be part of it. Be part of the lives with whom you share space at each moment. Choose to be happy. Greet each day with an attitude of gratefulness and love. Live each day as if it were your last.

Life is as great or as small as you intent it to be. And it isn’t the things that make it great. It is your connection to the people, events and moments that make it great. May you always know what the people who are at the edge of life know – that each day is important; each day is a gift. Treasure it and make it great.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. His new book, The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World, will be available in October 2010. He teaches people to connect to their talents and passions to be fired up! in life and at work. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com and www.TheGreatnessZone.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on September 12th, 2010 in Family, General, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

12 sep

Let Go of Control

MikeRobbins96I had a simple, but profound experience in the swimming pool last week – I floated on my back for the first time in my life. I do know how to swim and enjoy being in the water, but for some reason I never was able to figure out how to float on my back when I learned to swim as a kid and as an adult it hasn’t really been something that has come up as an issue in my life (although it has always been something that I wanted to learn, felt a bit embarrassed about not being able to do, and also didn’t quite understand).

Thanks to the help of my friend Steve last week, I was able to let go and allow the water to support me. It felt scary at first, but once I figured it out, it was an incredibly liberating and relaxing experience. As I was floating there in the pool I had many thoughts, feelings, and insights – the biggest of which had to do with my own obsession with controlling things, and my deep desire and fear about letting go.

How controlling are you? Would you consider yourself very controlling, moderately controlling, or not controlling at all? While each of us falls somewhere along the continuum of control and for some of us this is a bigger issue than others, for most of the people I know and work with, control is an issue that gets in our way – especially in the most important (and stressful) areas of life.

What causes us to be controlling?

There are many reasons, beliefs, and emotions that lead us to hold on tight and feel the need to control others, situations, circumstances, money, communications, food, workflow, details, our environment, and various other “important’ aspects of our lives. However, here are three things that are usually underneath our controlling tendency:

  • Fear – We worry that things won’t turn out, we will get hurt, bad things will happen, etc.
  • Unworthiness – We don’t feel as though we deserve support, help, or for things to go our way.
  • Lack of Trust – We’re scared to let go, count on others, and to believe that things will be okay without us managing every aspect of the situation, relationship, conversation, etc.

What does being controlling cost us?

There is a huge cost associated with being controlling. This negative impact is not only on us and our well-being, but also on those we love, the people we work with, and everyone around us. Here are some of the biggest costs:

  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Freedom
  • Energy
  • Creativity
  • Support
  • Ease
  • Connection
  • Love

How can we expand our capacity to let go of control?

There are many things we can do to let go of control. With compassion for ourselves, it’s important to remember that this is a process and something (especially for some of us) that may not come all that easy. Many of us have been literally “trained” (directly or indirectly) to be controlling and in certain environments and situations (at work and at home), being controlling has been encouraged or seemed necessary for our own survival and the survival of those around us.

That being said, here are some things you can do and think about to expand your own capacity to let go of control in a positive and liberating way:

1) Be honest with yourself – Make an authentic assessment about your own controlling nature. It probably varies a bit for you (as it does for most of us), but at the same time we all have certain tendencies, especially in the most important and stressful areas of our lives. With empathy and honesty, take a look at where, how, and why you hold on tight to control in whatever way you do. And, be real with yourself about what this costs and how it impacts you and those around you.

2) Ask yourself, “Am I willing to let go of control?” – This is an important question to ponder and to answer honestly. In some cases and in certain situations, the answer to this question may be “no.” It’s important to honor that if that’s the case for you. And, at the same time, the more willing you are to ask and answer this question, the more likely you are to start letting go of control consciously (assuming it is something you’re truly interested in doing). You may not know how to do it or what it would look like, but authentic willingness is always the first step in positive change.

3) Consider who could support you – Getting support is one of the most important (and often most vulnerable) aspects of letting go of control. Even though we sometimes feel like we’re all alone, that no one “gets it,” and/or that we couldn’t possibly make ourselves vulnerable enough to ask for help (especially in certain areas of life), it’s difficult to let go of control without the support of other people. The irony of asking for help is that many of us don’t feel comfortable doing so and fear it makes us seem weak or needy, and on the flip side most of us love to be asked for help and really enjoy helping others. We can’t do it alone! And, the good news is that most of us have lots of people in our life that would jump at the chance to support us – if we were willing to ask for help more freely.

4) Surrender – This is the bottom line of letting go. Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up or not caring, it means trusting and allowing things to be taken care of by others, by the process, and by the Universal Intelligence governing life – some call this God, some call this Spirit, some don’t call it anything, but most of us have an experience of It at some level. Surrendering is about consciously choosing to trust and have faith. It is something that can liberate us in a profound way and is all about us choosing to let go.

When we look back on our lives in hindsight, we usually see that “things happen for a reason.” What if we lived in the present moment with this same hindsight awareness? As one of my mentors said to me years ago, “Mike, you’re living your life as though you’re trying to survive it. You have to remember, no one ever has.”

Letting go of control is about loosening our grip, allowing ourselves to be supported, and trusting that things will turn out as they are meant to. Is this easy? Not always, although it can be. However, as we practice this and expand our capacity to let go, we’ll be able to release and transform a good amount of unnecessary stress, worry, and anxiety from our lives, our work, and our relationships.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on September 12th, 2010 in Global/Social Change, Health, Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

07 sep

Bringing Back Meaning into Our Lives

evolutionWe live in interesting times. We are all busy. We are all trying to be happier, more organized, healthier, wealthier and wiser! Yet there is a deeper longing that stirs beneath the surface of our lives—the desire that our lives matter, that our work matters, that there is true meaning in who we are and what we want to do. This isn’t about another goal, another challenge to set our sights on or something that will make us feel good. It’s about the fundamentals of how we view our life, our time, the people around us and the choices we make. When our lives are full of meaning, we are full of energy and joy. We can do anything. Meaning is what we want. So how do we get it?

1) Follow our heart’s longing and inspiration. Do what we want not what we should.
Ever since we were young, we’ve been told what we should do, what we should eat, what time we should go to bed, what work we should eventually grow up to do. It’s no surprise that so many of us find it hard even to get in touch with what we want, what our hearts want to do. It’s often hidden behind years of stories about why we can’t. We have excuses and even people’s opinions that stand in our way.

We all know what it feels like when something “feels” right. Our bodies let us know. There’s no tension, no contraction, no stress. Start small. What do you “want” to wear? What do you want to do on the weekend? What do you want to read? Then you can move onto the next questions. Where do you want to live? What type of work do you want to be doing with your life? What type of relationship/friendships do you want to have? Set your intention to establish a life plan that only brings you meaning into your life and that anything else fall away in its natural course.

2) Stop any disapproval/perfection/comparison programs.
These programs run our lives, the software of our everyday choices. We find dozens of ways to disapprove of ourselves. We try to be perfect or we compare our lives to others. Our inner critic at least has a full-time job!

If you want to add meaning to your life, start becoming aware of when one of these three programs is running or being activated. Shine a light on it. Realize that’s what’s happening. When the voice of disapproval goes quiet, that’s when you start accessing joy and meaning. It’s there all the time. It’s just not reachable without seeing what’s in the way. When you focus on it, you start seeing it. You literally have an escrow account of joy and meaning that is already within you, waiting to be experienced once these programs start losing their a grip on your life. Be gentle on yourself and light on life. Accept your humanness and also others’.

3) Slow down and stop your crazy deadlines.

We are all rushing, somewhere, to do something. Why is that? What are we trying to do? We need to find meaning in something. Ironically, when we slow down, we see meaning in everything. We aren’t trying to fill our emptiness. We notice things, a gesture, an animal, a sunset, a sweet exchange. We see what’s beautiful, magical. One of the things that most controls our lives is time—the clock. It lets us know if we are late, if we have achieved enough by whatever age we are, or if we are finally allowed to slow down and start enjoying our lives.

So stop looking at your watch for direction. There’s another part of you, your intuition, your inner listener who is constantly trying to get your attention. It knows what matters. It’s connected to your truth. It is a source of peace, tranquility and wisdom. Many of us fail at any of our goals only because we have imposed a crazy deadline on ourselves. We simply don’t give ourselves enough time. The runway is too short for anything to take off. People who are good at change, get their goals, find deeper meaning in their lives and have a very different relationship with time. Give yourself twice as long, or simply don’t determine your life on a few numbers.

4) Take items off your plate.
We are all focused on adding things to our lives, a bit more health, a bit more money, a few more hobbies. Start asking yourself what should not be on your plate anymore? What should you NOT do with your life? What’s your biggest distraction? What would you like not to do anymore? What brings you no meaning or joy? The door is always open to end anything. Really it is. It’s your mind that sees it as shut. The illusion of fear is what becomes real then. What do you want to have on your plate? What are your non-negotiables, things that no one, no job, nothing should touch? Those are what you want to be focusing on. Remember, your mind is a creative instrument so whatever you put your attention to expands.

5) Be self-nurturing.
We are all good at doing things for others, working hard, being there for our friends and family. And most of us are terrible at being there for ourselves. Our ability to do any self nurturing is low. And we aren’t talking about a manicure, a pedicure or a trip to the gym here. I am talking about what you feel you need: more sleep, healthier food, time to meditate and be silent, time in nature, the ability to read a book and so on. Schedule your time like you would any other important meeting. When your cup is full, when you’ve taken care of your needs, then the world can have some. You can’t give what you don’t have.

6) Know why you do what you do and you will have a sense of purpose and direction.

When was the last time you asked yourself a deeper question? Why are you here? What’s this all about? What matters? What’s a good use of my time? Am I not more than just a woman, married to this person, doing this job? We fear some of these questions thinking our life will fall apart if we get too deep and philosophical. But what is more important than to get fascinated with the journey of a lifetime? How does life work? How does the mind work? People who feel their lives are full of meaning are growing, they are learning, questioning everything, unlearning things they thought to be true. As with anything, when you feel you are growing, things feel good. When you are trying to keep everything the same, protect what you have, meaning is far away. Pick up a different type of book, maybe one about higher truth, wisdom, spiritual principles of the ages. Let your heart and mind ponder something new.

7) Start looking for ways to serve and contribute to your fellow human beings.
There is nothing that will bring you a sense of meaning more than this. Power moves through those who serve. All fulfillment comes from feeling connected to others and giving from the heart, once you’ve taken care of yourself! ☺

Really listen to others. Give them a safe space to share, to express themselves. Then, accept them as they are. That’s what we are all craving. Afterward your days will be filled with meaning when your energy starts going out towards others, rather than in the “me, me me” direction all the time. Meaning does not come from satisfying little me. It comes from knowing your life matters and from others who are touched and moved emotionally by your presence.

8) Surround yourself with people who are motivated and meaningful to you.
The biggest influence on your day-to-day life are the five people you spend the most amount of time with! Who are your five? Start being conscious of who surrounds you. Are they optimists or complainers? Are they excited about life? Are they givers? Do they believe in you and want you to change or do they prefer you staying the same, just to make them feel comfortable? Have a plan of action. Write down what you want to focus on, share it with others so that they can encourage you and hold you to your new standard. This isn’t about accountability but about lovingly reminding you of what’s most important to you.

When we start moving away from the mundane and the conventional pull to acquire things toward life directions that you’ll love to take and are consciously choosing, meaning comes flooding in. Yes it means some decisions, some fear, some explaining to others perhaps. The time before a decision is much harder than the decision itself. So commit to a small goal, take something off your plate that isn’t working for you anymore, get excited about something else now, who you are becoming today not who you used to be. It’s amazing the progress you can observe day by day. When you are inspired by something, a job, a goal, a person, a way of living in the world, your spiritual beliefs, every area of your life benefits so it’s never selfish to start with you!

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Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on September 7th, 2010 in General, New Directions | 2 comments

06 sep

It’s Okay for Things to Be Easy

MikeRobbins96A friend of mine called me out on something important last week. He said, “Mike, this ’story’ you have about things being ‘hard’ for you isn’t really true. It seems to me that things come pretty easy, you just make them hard by saying they are. What if you started saying and owning that certain things come easy to you?”

As I heard him say this, I had a mixture of emotions and reactions. First of all, I felt grateful (I love having people in my life who are willing to call me out, even if my ego gets a little bent out of shape in the process). Second of all, I felt defensive and noticed that I wanted to justify myself against his challenge. Third of all, I felt a sense of fear and resistance to the idea of things coming “easy” to me.

As I’ve thought about it more over this past week, I realize that this resistance to having things be easy runs deep within me (as it does for so many people I know and work with). Here are some of the main “reasons” I’ve used and beliefs I’ve held for many years to resist the notion of things being easy for me:

- Easy means lazy

- If things come easy to me, other people will get jealous, won’t like me, and/or won’t respect me

- It doesn’t really “count” or mean much if it comes easy

- It’s not fair for things to come easy to me – especially with so many people having such a hard time these days

- I actually get off on struggling and suffering – I’m quite familiar with it and I’ve used it as motivation to change and “succeed” for much of my life

- My ability to work hard, overcome adversity, and rise above challenges are all things my ego uses to feel superior to others

- If I admit that something is easy for me, it will seem arrogant and then people will root for me to fail

Can you relate to any of these?

Getting in touch with some of these reasons and beliefs has been both painful and liberating at the same time. As I think, talk, and write about them – I realize how ridiculous some of them are and how much of my life’s energy I’ve been giving to them in the process.

It’s almost like I’m walking around worried that someone’s going to say me, “Mike, you have it so easy,” and I’m preparing my defensive responses, “Oh yeah, well let me tell you how hard I work, how challenging things are for me, and how much stuff I’ve had to overcome along the way.” What’s up with this? It’s like I’m preparing for a fight that doesn’t even exist. Do you ever do that?

While working hard, overcoming challenges and adversity, and being passionately committed to important and complex things in our lives aren’t inherently bad – resisting ease and being attached to struggle causes me and so many of us a great deal of stress, worry, and pain. And, in many cases this difficulty is totally self-induced and unnecessary.

What if we allowed things to be easier? What if we started to speak about and own the aspects of our lives that are actually easy to us and stated to expect things to get even easier? Easy doesn’t mean lazy, that we aren’t willing to work in a passionate way, or that we expect a “free ride” – it means that we’re willing to have things work out, trust that all is well, and allow life to flow in a positive and elegant way for us.

Our desire and ability to embrace ease in our life isn’t selfish, arrogant, or unrealistic – it’s profoundly optimistic (in an authentic way) and can actually enhance our ability to impact others. The more energy and attention we place on surviving, getting by, or even “striving” for success – the less available we are to give, serve, and make a difference for other people. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to us, having things be easy is one of the best ways we can show up for those around us – both by our example and with our freed up positive energy.

As Richard Bach famously stated, “Argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” What if we stopped arguing on behalf of how “hard” things are, and started to allow our life to be filled with peace and ease? While the idea of things being easy may not be, ironically, the easiest thing for you to embrace – I challenge you (as I challenge myself) to take this on in your life and become more comfortable with it…maybe it could actually be easier than you think!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on September 6th, 2010 in General, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,