Posts tagged with ‘holidays’

13 jan

New Year, Be You

MikeRobbinsNewWith the New Year still in its first few weeks, the annual “new year, new you” phenomenon is all around us – in the worlds of advertising, media, self-help and more. And while this time of year can be a great catalyst for positive change in our lives, what if we made a commitment to live our lives in 2011 focused on who we are, and not so much on what we do, what we accomplish, what we look like, what we’re striving for, and more? One of best things we can do in this New Year is to focus on who we really are, instead of who we think we’re supposed to be.

Who would we be without our accomplishments (or failures), our degrees (or lack thereof), our bank accounts, our experiences, our title, our home, our status, and more? As simple of a concept as this is for us to think about and discuss, at least on the surface, it’s actually quite difficult for many of us, myself included, to genuinely separate who we are from what we do (or have done or not done). These past two years have taught many of us, in some cases quite painfully, how quickly the external circumstances of our lives can change dramatically and things can be taken away.

The deeper question for us to ponder here is really one of the big philosophical questions of life, “What makes me a valuable person?” While this is something we have all thought about to some degree, most of us don’t really engage in this inquiry on a regular basis. And, when we do, we often think that if we just got more done, lost some weight, made more money, took a vacation, accomplished a goal, had more meaningful work, made it to retirement, or whatever, then we’d be “happier” or feel more “valuable.” Sadly, as we’ve all experienced, this is not usually the case and is also one of the main reasons why most of our New Year’s “resolutions” don’t really last.

What if, in addition to having important goals, we could also expand our capacity for appreciating ourselves and being who we really are this year – having nothing to do with our external circumstances? What if just being ourselves, the way we are right now, is good enough?

Being ourselves fully, takes courage, commitment, and faith. It’s a process of letting go of many false beliefs we’ve picked up from the collective consciousness – that we have to look good, be smart, know the right people, say the right things, have the proper experience, make a certain amount of money, and more, in order to be happy and successful in life. Being ourselves can be scary and counter intuitive, difficult and even off-putting, and, at times, lonely.

However, being our authentic self is liberating, exciting, and fulfilling. When we have the courage to just be who we are, without apology or pretence, so much of our suffering, stress, and worry in life simply goes away.

Here are a few things to consider and practice as you deepen your awareness of and capacity for being who you truly are in this New Year:

1) Tell the truth to yourself. Think about and own how much of your self-worth is based on what you do, how you look, who you know, what you’ve accomplished, etc. (i.e. the external stuff). The more we let go of being defined by the external, the more freedom, peace, and power we can experience. And, as we really get honest with ourselves, we may realize that outside of these external things, we don’t really know who we are. As scary as this may seem on the surface, it’s actually great news and can give us access to a deeper and more meaningful experience of who we are.

2) Appreciate who you really are. What do you appreciate about yourself that has nothing to do with anything external? In other words, what personal qualities (of being, not doing) do you value about yourself? The more we’re able to tap into what we appreciate about who we are (not what we do), the more capacity we have for real confidence, peace, and self love.

3) Practice just being you. As silly as it may sound, we all need to “practice” being ourselves. We have a great deal of experience being phony or being how we think we’re supposed to be. It actually takes conscious practice for us to be able to just show up and be who we are. We can practice alone, with people we know, and with total strangers. This is all about awareness – paying attention to how we feel, what we’re thinking, what we say, and how we show up. It’s not about getting it right or doing anything specific, it’s about letting go of our erroneous notions of how we think we’re supposed to be, and just allowing ourselves to be who and how we are in the moment.

Have fun with this, talk to others about it, and have a lot of compassion with yourself as you practice – this is big stuff for most of us. This year, instead of trying to be a “new” you, just be yourself and see what happens.

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 January 13th, 2011 in New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

09 jan

Create What You Truly Want in 2011

MikeRobbinsNewAs we embark on another new year of life, I find myself experiencing a mixture of emotions about 2011. I’m excited about the possibilities of this New Year and inspired by the energy of creation that exists at this special time. Similar to last week, there is a magical quality to this first week of the New Year – lots of hope and positive anticipation.

At the same time, especially given the nature of 2010 and all the twists and turns last year took for me personally, so many people around me, and in the world, I find myself feeling a sense of trepidation about setting new goals and jumping right back into the mix of life and work.

As it relates to New Year’s “resolutions,” most people I know and have worked with over the years, including myself, have a somewhat funny or disempowered relationship to goal-setting for the New Year. Whether you spend lots of time and energy creating your New Year’s intentions or you decided years ago that you wouldn’t bother (since in years past by mid-January most of them have gone off the rails or out of your mind anyway); I don’t know too many people who are genuinely inspired, motivated, or empowered by their New Year’s resolutions in a sustainable and real way. How about you?

Here are some of the main reasons I think we aren’t authentically inspired by our goals or truly empowered to manifest them:

- Our “goals” are often about fixing what we think is wrong with us

- Once we set them, we feel a sense of pressure to make them happen

- We worry that we won’t accomplish or achieve what we want, and then we’ll feel like failures

- We don’t get the kind of support we really want and need

- We forget that our intentions are designed to support us, not stress us out

- We get too focused on the outcome and forget about the experience

- We allow competition and scarcity take over

- We get all excited about them at the beginning of the year, and then forget about them

For these and other reasons many us either don’t set powerful intentions for the New Year or we do so out of fear in a way that creates more stress in our lives. One of the best things we can do to shift our perspective about this and create an empowering relationship to our process of setting goals for 2011 is to understand some key distinctions – intentions, goals, and actions.

Intentions – Our intentions are states of being and authentic desires. In other words, we may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy, wealthy, or more. Our intentions are our high ideals and are usually at the root of our motivation for any of our specific goals (i.e. “why” we want to do, accomplish, or experience something). Most of us don’t really want goals like a new relationship, more money, or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves – we want them (or others) because of what we believe we will experience by having them in our life. By starting with our intentions, we get right to the source of what we truly want. Intentions are the core and the magic of all of our goals and desires.

Goals – Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable. We want to be able to track our progress and know for sure if we are reaching our goals or not. This doesn’t have to be a competition (with others or ourselves) and doesn’t have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame, or guilt (which is sadly how we often relate to our results). Having our goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest. And, the paradox we have to always remember when setting and working on our goals is that we can’t be attached to the outcome – which will make us crazy and can take us off course with our real intentions. Our goals simply take our intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.

Actions – Creating action-oriented practices that support us in manifesting our goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly, and monthly process of our success and fulfillment. Coming up with action plans that inspire us, connect to the goals we’re working on, and fulfill our intentions is vital to all of this. This is where the rubber meets the road, and is often the place where things break down for us. The breakdown with actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows us to let circumstances take over and causes us to lose focus) than it does with any “failure” or “weakness” on our part. Having practices that support us and help us take the baby steps needed to manifest our goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.

Here is an example of how this could look in a specific area of life. Let’s say you have a desire to make more money (which is a very common one that many of us have, especially these days). Start with your intention. For example, “My intention is to experience a real sense of abundance, peace, and freedom with money and to easily manifest income.” Then create a specific measurable result-oriented goal. “I will generate $100,000 by 12/31/2011.” The next step is to come up with a few related actions/practices. “I will read three or more books this year on manifesting money. I will set up two or more meetings per month to talk to people about new money-making ideas. I will make a plan each month for specific things I can do to increase my income.”

The final piece of the process is creating some kind of regular accountability and support structure for this. You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group, create a success/ accountability partnership with a friend, and more. Having someone or a group of people you make commitments to and whom you empower to hold you accountable will make all the difference in the world.

Have fun with this. Don’t take it or yourself too seriously…it’s just life, you’re allowed to make mistakes, screw things up, and fall down (which we all do and always will). Be kind to yourself in this process and in this New Year. And, when we remember that our intentions (those states of being and authentic desires) are what we are truly after (not the specific outcomes or actions), it can allow us to take the pressure off of ourselves, have more fun, and trust that things will manifest as they are meant to – especially if we open up and let them show up!

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 January 9th, 2011 in New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

14 dec

Stay Grounded During the Holidays

MikeRobbinsNewThe holiday season is now in full swing. If you’re anything like me you probably have mixed feelings about the holidays. I love the excitement, parties, decorations, rituals, music, gifts, connections, and more. However, even these fun things can wear on me. And, the stress, drama, consumption, obligation, expense, and more that often come along with this time of year are not on my list of “favorite things.”

In addition, I often feel like I’m not doing enough, not on top of my “list,” and I sometimes worry that I won’t get everything done in time to make the people in my life happy the way I want to. Can you relate?

This year, especially with all that’s going on around us in the economy and the world, what if we each made a commitment to appreciate the holiday season and enjoy the whole experience – regardless of our circumstances or any external pressure we may feel? Appreciating the holiday season, as with anything in life, will make it much more enjoyable and much less stressful.

Instead of rushing around in a high state of anxiety and worry about crossing every item off of our never-ending to-do list, we could choose another way – one which will make this holiday season enjoyable, fun, and peaceful for us and those around us.

Here are a few things we can remember this holiday season to make things more fulfilling and less overwhelming:

1) Take Responsibility for Your Experience. It’s important to remember that the stress we experience during the holiday season does not come from the holidays themselves, but from us. We’re always the creators of our own experience and the more we can remember this and live our lives from this perspective, the more empowered we are. When we stop thinking, speaking, and acting as if we’re mere victims of holiday madness (or anything else in our lives for that matter), we can dramatically enhance our enjoyment and lower our stress.

2) Remember That You Are at Choice. We always have a choice about how we engage with anything. This holiday season we can choose to be annoyed by family members, obligations, forced work gatherings, crowds, prices, or anything else. Or, we can choose to enjoy the magic and fun of this time of year. We may not always get to choose the people and circumstances around us, but we always have a choice about how we relate to them. Our experience of the holidays (and of life) is up to us, as it always is.

3) Focus on What You Appreciate About the Holidays. Consciously choose to focus on the things that you appreciate about the holiday season the most. Tell the truth about this to yourself and to those around you. If at all possible, don’t participate in work or family gatherings out of obligation. But, regardless of where you are, what you do, or whom you are with – make a commitment to appreciate what’s happening, the people around you, and the many blessings of this season and in your life right now.

Even and especially when things are challenging, we always have so much to be grateful for. At this time of the year, we can take a step back, breathe deeply, and experience the gratitude we have for our lives, the people in it, and for ourselves. If not now, then when?

While there are always things for us to do, gifts to buy, gatherings to attend, and much more going on at this time of year; we can choose to have this holiday season be one that is filled with authentic peace, gratitude, and joy – if we’re willing to look for, find, and focus on what we appreciate.

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 December 14th, 2010 in General | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

14 nov

The Greatest Holiday Gift

JayForteAh, the holiday season. And we are already bombarded with a Sunday paper that tips the scales with gift ads. TV and radio ads remind us of the best gifts to give, who not to forget and how to make the holidays special. Buy, buy, buy.

I don’t know about you but this can do a great job of interfering with the kind of holiday I want to have if I let it. I don’t want a holiday of stuff – I want a holiday of experiences and stories. I want a holiday of emotions and connection. I want the memories.

As kids, it wasn’t just the gifts that made us feel so terrific about the holidays, it was the memories of feeling important, cared for, loved and special. I remember very few of the gifts I received over so many past holidays. What I do remember instead is singing carols, having neighbors over, decorating the house and eating treats that only showed up at the holidays. When I think of these, I am immediately brought back to sitting by the Christmas tree. I can smell the evergreen. I can see the lights and tinsel. I can smell the cakes baking and can hear the laughing from the other rooms as neighbors come by. I am immediately transported to happy times. It was the event. It was the feeling. It wasn’t the stuff.

So here are some of my ideas of holiday gifts that move away from the stuff and go for the memories:

Hosting a party with friends where we celebrate our time together.

Having brunch with my kids where we can talk about life, their dreams of starting families and loving the moments we spend together.

Sending and receiving cards that say, though we haven’t spoken in a while, you are still in my thoughts.

Playing music that is festive and celebratory, inspiring a feeling of peace and calm.

Walking with friends, or as a family, through towns and streets decorated with things that are bright, happy and festive.

Telling stories around the table with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, about what life was like, how each celebrated the holidays, and what made life great.

Stopping for a hot chocolate on a cold night, because we haven’t done it in a while and nothing beats the smell of hot chocolate – with whipped cream or marshmallow.

Taking an extra day off from work to be at home (not out shopping) and playing games, working on family projects or inventing a new recipe together.

Making a video where each person in the family, or each friend, records a memory of the holidays, then shares the message with the rest of the world on YouTube.

Committing the time to learn how to discuss and communicate about the things that are important to each member of the family – to help them discover their talents, strengths and passions and build a life they love.

Buying recycling bins and having everyone in the household learn how to recycle everything that can be recycled – a gift to the planet.

Being invited to, and sharing in, another person’s holiday traditions with an open mind and an appreciation for its importance to that person.

Selecting something that the receiver adores, and the giver does not add to his debt.

Holidays are terrific. They make us stop the routine and come together to celebrate. And giving seems very much a part of the holiday. But we don’t have to give until we’re broke. We also know that things never truly bring happiness, memories do.

A good friend of mine has a small artificial Christmas tree that he leaves up and lit all year. Each month, he, his wife and his son, exchange small gifts. As he told me, it is not about the gifts. It is about a small Christmas tree that stays lit all year in their house to remind them that every day is to be celebrated. Brilliant.

So as the holiday approaches, may you find new ways to celebrate. May the gifts you give and receive be personal, focused on feelings and create memories. Wishing you amazing holidays that you fondly remember forever.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, life and workplace coach. He is the author of the books, The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World, and Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to help them live fired up! More information at www.TheGreatnessZone.com and www.LiveFiredUp.com.

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Posted by Jay Forte on November 14th, 2010 in Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

23 feb

Never Miss An Opportunity To…

JayForteWith Valentine’s Day just behind us, I was reminded of our tradition to take a day and celebrate special events. We celebrate mothers, fathers, pilgrims, veterans, workers, religions traditions, famous people and presidents. Overall, a good idea.

What struck me more is the concept of a holi “day.” If these are really important events, why do we limit the celebration to just a day? Shouldn’t we identify the reason for the celebration and build them into all aspects of life each day?

Here’s my thought. Holi “days” aren’t cutting it. The daily celebrations are too infrequent and don’t encourage enough of the right behaviors to last all year. In a world that is increasingly unkind, selfish and confrontational, couldn’t we make an improvement if we were to extend the meaning of the celebrations? Couldn’t we stay more focused on being kind, considerate, passionate, loving and respectful?

In my house, we wake up each morning and say either “happy anniversary,” or “happy Valentine’s Day.” Every day we celebrate our relationship as the cornerstone of our lives – a good and happy place. The message of both an anniversary and Valentine’s Day is a daily celebration.

Imagine if each day were a “thanksgiving” celebration. What if each day you made time around the dinner table to celebrate one great thing that happened. Imagine how it could change the victim and cynical perspective that our troubled world inspires. Make the home the safe place, the grateful place, the loving place that supports, inspires and protects. This prepares each member of the house to boldly go into a challenging world and be more upbeat, optimistic and caring – something the world could use more of. And we have a chance of making it happen if the thanksgiving celebration was a daily event.

I find that holidays have become either commercial events or traditions. Neither supports the true intent of the holiday. Gift giving is a great thing; it should never be obligatory. A celebration of faith and belief should not put you into debt. A celebration of freedom and of those who fought for it should be a daily event, lest we forget the degree of their sacrifice and the requirement of our continued sacrifice. Again, daily lessons, daily celebrations.

So my suggestion is to replace holi”days” with a “never miss an opportunity to…” approach – a new daily focus on celebrating what matters most in life. Here is the start of my “never miss an opportunity to…” list. What would you add?

“Never miss an opportunity to…”:

  • Tell (and show) the people you love how much you love them and what they mean to you.
  • Share a story about your life’s success and failures to teach someone else.
  • Make someone else feel important, even if you did most of the work.
  • Show your patriotism and respect for your country.
  • Show your tolerance for and acceptance of someone who does not look like you or believe in what you do.
  • Stop and appreciate a flower, a tree, the wind, a star, rock formation or any other part of nature.
  • Know yourself, your talents and passions, so you can build a life that makes you happy, successful and engaged.
  • Say thank you, hold a door open, let another person or car pass ahead of you, or to be kind to someone you don’t know.
  • Give away some of your “extras” to someone who has no “extras.”
  • Learn something new to expand what you know and your contribution to the world.
  • Make the first call even when it is the other person’s turn.
  • Share a call, thought, card or gift with someone you love or who needs to hear from you – just because.
  • Say you are sorry when you hurt someone – even if you didn’t mean to.
  • Allow another to have an opinion different than yours, and still respect them.
  • Spend more time with your pet; be kind and respect all life.
  • Develop your personal faith; have it encourage your acceptance of yourself and others; allow it to accept, not reject others.
  • Keep your planet safe for those who will need it after you.
  • Talk about differences instead of fight about them; find commonalities and reasons to get along instead of disagree.
  • Respond to natural and social tragedies with care, urgency and self-sacrifice.
  • Sing, dance, laugh, tell a joke, cry or be more human, even when others you don’t know are watching. Invite them to join it.
  • Smile at someone you don’t know.
  • Bound out of bed, excited you have another day.
  • Remember you must share the planet with others who have the same right to be here, be respected, earn a living, find love, develop their talents, create a life, share a history and make and impact.

How will you never miss an opportunity to connect the very special people in your world? And how can you make the core of our holiday messages become part of your daily approach to life?

Never miss your opportunity to celebrate and to make a difference. Your life, your choice.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual and the on-line resource Stand Out and Get Hired. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to work strong and live stronger. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.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 February 23rd, 2010 in Family, General, Health, New Directions, Relationships, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , ,

22 dec

What Would Love Do?

mike_robbinsI had the honor of interviewing my friends Matthew and Terces Engelhart, the founders of Café Gratitude, on my radio show last week. In the course of our wonderfully inspiring conversation they brought up the idea of asking the question, “What would love do?” when making decisions or facing challenges in life. I love this question and it reminded me of one of my favorite songs with this same title, “What Would Love Do?” by Karen Drucker.

After the interview I got to thinking about my own life and some of the places where I find myself struggling, stressed out, worried, or stuck right now. I can see that instead of asking what love would do, I’m often asking other, less inspiring questions to myself like, “What should I do?” “What’s the right thing to do?” “What’s wrong with them?” or various other versions of these types of questions. Can you relate?

What if we did actually ask ourselves, “What would love do?” in all of the important areas of our lives, especially the most challenging ones? I bet that would dramatically alter not only how we relate to those people and circumstances, but also would alter what we did and said, and ultimately how we felt.

As we move through the holiday season and into the New Year, which often brings up lots of emotions (both light and dark) and gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on ourselves, our lives, and where we are – letting love lead the way, especially this year, is something that will benefit most of us and can allow us to listen to a deeper aspect of who we really are.

Everything I write about, speak about, and teach is really all about love. I sometimes find myself a little shy, embarrassed, or self-conscious to come right out and say it – somehow fearing that love seems too soft, too personal, too intimate, too mysterious, or whatever. However, being authentic and being appreciative, and just about anything else we aspire to in life, are all about love – of ourselves, of others, and of life itself. Love, I believe, is the most powerful force in the universe – yet so many of us, myself included, almost apologize for talking about it, thinking about it, and wanting to have it play a lead role in our lives.

As we interact with (or avoid) our families, in-laws, friends, and even strangers on the street or in stores or restaurants over these next few days and weeks – What would love do? As we sit back and reflect on this past year, and begin to plan, dream, and prepare for the year ahead, what would love do? As we relate to ourselves in the midst of all of this, what would love do?

As Karen Drucker says in her beautiful song, “Love has all the answers. Love makes no demands. Love will lead me to the truth and help me to understand…that life is all about love.”

Here are a few things to think about, as this relates to some of the areas and aspects of life where you may be challenged at the moment:

1) Pick a challenging or difficult aspect of your life right now. What’s going on and how do you feel about this situation or relationship? More specifically, what kinds of questions are you asking yourself about this? The quality of the answers we receive in life is directly related to the quality of the questions we ask.

2) Ask yourself “what would love do?” This may be an easy or difficult question for you to ask yourself about this specific situation or relationship. Allow yourself to hang out in this powerful inquiry and see what shows up. You may have lots of ideas or insights, or not. However, asking yourself this empowering question, will almost surely give you deeper awareness and insight for what you could do if you allowed love to lead the way.

3) Take bold and loving action, based on your answer to this question. Allow yourself to ponder and consider this question long enough that you really feel it in your bones. The paradox here is that it’s not so much about what you do – it’s more about where it comes from. If it truly comes from a deep place of love within you, you’ll know it, feel it, and it will be the “right” thing to do. Trust yourself and your heart – and then be willing to take the risk and put yourself out there.

This time of year, especially this year with all we have gone through, we are ripe with opportunities to practice asking ourselves this question. If we’re courageous enough to ask, to truly listen to the answers we receive, and to act on them from a place of real love, compassion, and truth – not only will this be a holiday season and a New Year filled with authentic appreciation and joy, we will have the opportunity to transform our lives and relationships in a real and profound way. Let’s do it…with love!

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

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 22nd, 2009 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

21 dec

Giving from the Heart

It’s holiday time and for many of us, holidays that should be filled with opportunities for true happiness—a sense of togetherness, a chance to give, and a chance to be grateful—are turned into occasions for fights, disappointments, overspending and fatigue. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Holidays don’t have to be expensive, meaningless or filled with stress. Rather, they can be occasions to connect to those you care about and to express your skills and talents.

Last year, as part of my quest for a more authentic Christmas giving experience, my loved ones and I decided to give one another only presents of time, energy or creativity. I taught Angie how to cook risotto; Dave took Don skiing for the first time; Andy did a bodywork session with Ana; Don helped Andy build a closet. It was wonderful. We each gave from our knowledge and talents, and we received skills and experiences in return. To me, it epitomized the best kind of generosity—giving of the self.

Another kind of meaningful holiday giving is making donations to charities in the name of the person you’d normally buy something for. Especially as we age, most of us have so much stuff that we’d prefer not to get more objects.

I’m not suggesting you quit doing what you enjoy about holiday gift-giving. Rather, that you consciously choose to give in a way that truly comes from your heart and notice what effect it has on you. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only gift is a portion of thyself…The poet brings his poem; the shepherd his lamb, the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing.” Wishing you a meaningful holiday season!

About MJ Ryan

A member of Professional Thinking Partners who is recognized as a leading expert in change, M.J. Ryan specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, individuals, and leadership teams around the world to maximize performance and fulfillment. Her clients include Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Hewitt Associates, and Frito Lay. Her work is based on a combination of positive psychology, strengths-based coaching, the wisdom traditions, and cutting edge brain research. Her new book, titled “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For” was recently released published by Random House’s Broadway Books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.

www.MJ-Ryan.com

Posted by MJ Ryan on December 21st, 2009 in Family | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

08 dec

The Best Gift of All

mike_robbinsDuring one of her shows a few years back, Oprah Winfrey made a profound and beautiful statement that I appreciated very much. She said, “We do shows about lots of ‘stuff’ and my ‘favorite things,’ but what people want more than anything else is to know that they’re appreciated…that’s the best gift of all.”

At this time of year it’s easy for us to get caught up in the stress of getting everything on our “list” crossed off, preparing for parties and events, and rushing around to buy gifts. And, with money tight for many of us this year, there’s added stress as we think about what gifts to get for our family members, friends, co-workers, and others.

Instead of just giving “stuff” for the holidays this year, what if we gave the people in our life the most meaningful gift of all; our appreciation? Let the people around you know what you appreciate about them and why.

What do you value most about your best friend? What is it about your kids that you really appreciate? What do you love best about your spouse? How does your co-worker or your boss make your job easier and more fun?

Expressing our heartfelt and genuine appreciation for the important people in our life is magical and it’s essential to our ability to create happiness, fulfillment, loving relationships, healthy families, successful teams, and productive communities. Appreciation is also an important element of effectively dealing with the stress of challenges and uncertainty that so many of us are facing these days.

This year, our holiday gifts can be expressions of true appreciation which will have real impact on our relationships and make our holiday season one to remember. And, with things the way they are financially for many people these days, taking time to appreciate others and life is so important this year.

Here are three simple suggestions to make your holiday gifts and your holiday season special and meaningful:

1) In addition to (or instead of) giving gifts, take time to write heartfelt thank you cards. Write cards of gratitude – letting the people around you know what you appreciate about them and how they have impacted your life in a positive way. Express your appreciation genuinely, specifically, and personally – in a heartfelt way.

2) Ask people what they really want. Giving something specific that someone really wants will have them feel appreciated and valued. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it’s personal to them. And, if you ask them directly you may find out that what they really want is something simple that can’t be bought or doesn’t cost money.

3) Give the gift of your time or service. Make a list of a few important people in your life and instead of buying them something, call and ask each them if there is some project they’ve been putting off or procrastinating that you might be able to help them with. Schedule time to come over to their house or support them specifically in getting that task or project accomplished.

Remember what most people want, more than almost anything else, is to know that they are loved, valued, and appreciated. Appreciation truly is the best gift we can give to the people in our lives (for the holidays and at any time of the year).

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

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 8th, 2009 in Family, Finances, Global/Social Change, Relationships | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

01 dec

How to Stay Grounded During the Holidays

mike_robbinsThe holiday season is now in full swing. If you’re anything like me you probably have mixed feelings about the holidays. I love the excitement, parties, decorations, rituals, music, gifts, connections, and more. However, even these fun things can wear on me. And, the stress, drama, consumption, obligation, expense, and more that often come along with this time of year are not on my list of “favorite things.”

In addition, I often feel like I’m not doing enough, not on top of my “list,” and I sometimes worry that I won’t get everything done in time to make the people in my life happy the way I want to. Can you relate?

This year, especially with all that’s going on around us in the economy and the world, what if we each made a commitment to appreciate the holiday season and enjoy the whole experience – regardless of our circumstances or any external pressure we may feel? Appreciating the holiday season, as with anything in life, will make it much more enjoyable and much less stressful.

Instead of rushing around in a high state of anxiety and worry about crossing every item off of our never-ending to-do list, we could choose another way – one which will make this holiday season enjoyable, fun, and peaceful for us and those around us.

Here are a few things we can remember this holiday season to make things more fulfilling and less overwhelming:

1) Take Responsibility for Your Experience. It’s important to remember that the stress we experience during the holiday season does not come from the holidays themselves, but from us. We’re always the creators of our own experience and the more we can remember this and live our lives from this perspective, the more empowered we are. When we stop thinking, speaking, and acting as if we’re mere victims of holiday madness (or anything else in our lives for that matter), we can dramatically enhance our enjoyment and lower our stress.

2) Remember That You Are at Choice. We always have a choice about how we engage with anything. This holiday season we can choose to be annoyed by family members, obligations, forced work gatherings, crowds, prices, or anything else. Or, we can choose to enjoy the magic and fun of this time of year. We may not always get to choose the people and circumstances around us, but we always have a choice about how we relate to them. Our experience of the holidays (and of life) is up to us, as it always is.

3) Focus on What You Appreciate About the Holidays. Consciously choose to focus on the things that you appreciate about the holiday season the most. Tell the truth about this to yourself and to those around you. If at all possible, don’t participate in work or family gatherings out of obligation. But, regardless of where you are, what you do, or whom you are with – make a commitment to appreciate what’s happening, the people around you, and the many blessings of this season and in your life right now.

Even and especially when things are challenging, we always have so much to be grateful for. At this time of the year, we can take a step back, breathe deeply, and experience the gratitude we have for our lives, the people in it, and for ourselves. If not now, then when?

While there are always things for us to do, gifts to buy, gatherings to attend, and much more going on at this time of year; we can choose to have this holiday season be one that is filled with authentic peace, gratitude, and joy – if we’re willing to look for, find, and focus on what we appreciate.

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

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 1st, 2009 in Family, Global/Social Change, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

24 nov

The Power of Gratitude

mike_robbinsI’ve been speaking and writing about gratitude for almost ten years now – and I’m still amazed at how challenging it can be for me to focus on what I’m grateful for at times (especially when I’m feeling sorry for myself or complaining). I’m also blown away by how powerful and transformative gratitude is when we choose to pay attention to it, experience it, and express it.

I met a man recently who had been in prison for almost thirty years. When he was asked what he appreciated most about being out of jail he said, “Seeing the stars, listening to children laugh, and hearing dogs bark.” Wow – think of all of the simple things we take for granted that we could choose to be grateful for each day.
What are you grateful for? How often do you ask yourself and others this powerful question? Sadly, many of us don’t take the time to ask or answer this question on a regular basis – especially in the midst of these difficult times.

Hopefully, you and your family will spend some time acknowledging what you’re grateful for this week on Thanksgiving and over the next few weeks during the holiday season. However, focusing on gratitude is something that we can do all the time, not just on special occasions or during the holidays.

There are many reasons (i.e. excuses) we have for not focusing on what we’re grateful for:
• We’re too busy and stressed out
• We’re waiting for things to work out “perfectly” (which they almost never do)
• We don’t want to brag (especially these days with lots of people going through tough times)
• We focus on what needs improvement, the many things we still have to get done, and all of the “bad stuff” in our lives, about others, and in the world
• We feel funny about it or get embarrassed expressing our appreciation

While all of these “reasons” make sense and are understandable, they simply and sadly get in our way of tapping into one of the most powerful emotions and states of beings we have access to the power of gratitude.

I saw Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles and co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, on Larry King Live a few years ago. He said that gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life.
Gratitude not only makes us feel good, it’s also one of the greatest attractors of abundance, love, peace, success, health, connection, and more. The more we focus on what we already have, the wonderful aspects of our lives, and what we appreciate; the more we end up having to be grateful for.

Stop for a moment right now and think about some of the things that you’re grateful for in your own life. Make a list – either in your head or on paper. We each have so much. When we take the time to acknowledge our many blessings, we utilize the power of gratitude in a way that benefits us and those around us in a profound way.

Create gratitude practices

We can expand our capacity for gratitude in our lives by creating simple and genuine practices. It doesn’t really matter what we do or how we do it, just that we come up with easy and meaningful ways to focus on what we’re grateful for all the time. Below is a short list of some different possible gratitude practices. Pick one, use many, or choose something else:

• Write cards or emails expressing your gratitude for others – and do this for no specific reason or occasion
• Meditate/pray and focus on what you’re grateful for
• Have everyone at the dinner table share something they’re grateful before you eat (or go around in the car or other times you’re together with your family and play this “grateful game”)
• Ask people what they’re grateful for (and/or ask this question as part of your outgoing voice mail message)
• Use a “gratitude journal” and write in it regularly

While so many of us understand and know about the power of gratitude, it’s the practice and expression of it that really has impact. When we take the time to think about, feel, and express our gratitude and appreciation for life, others, and ourselves – we can literally transform our lives and relationships in a beautiful way.

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

Posted by Mike Robbins on November 24th, 2009 in Family, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,