How Cultivating Your Compassion Sprouts Love

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” ~ Rumi

Suffering is hard. It’s hard when we experience it and it’s hard when people we love experience it. But suffering give us all the ability to practice compassion so it’s a wonderful gift just on that merit. We would not be as rich or complex without this opportunity so embrace it when it comes into your life. Practicing compassion always has the side effect of connection and love. It’s an inherent by product you get as a bonus so spread as much compassion around as possible and watch your life bloom.

Here are 5 ways you can cultivate compassion in your life.

  1. Deeply Listen

One radical act of compassion is to deeply listen to the person talking to you. Really hear what they say. Turn off that tendency to run your own mental discourse while they are talking. Stop planning what you’re going to say, stop judging or analyzing every word, just listen.

Be as curios as possible. Act as if what they are saying is golden and you want to hear every word. Ask them to tell you more when they pause. Disengage your ego and show up with your heart.

  1. Hear What’s Not Being Said

OK so compassion can’t happen when everything is rosy. So sometimes you need to hear what’s not being said. Look behind the yelling tone, the harsh words, and the angry look; ask yourself, “What could all this be masking?” Maybe it’s hurt feelings, self-judgment, or embarrassment. Show compassion by bypassing the surface and dive into understanding the feelings.

  1. Put Yourself in Another’s Shoes

Whenever you are irritated or upset by another’s actions, remember you have no idea what is going on for them. So when that clerk is short tempered with you, or your boss ignores you in the hall when you say hello, send them compassion instead of spinning out into anger.

Reader’s Digest once ran this story that illustrates this point beautifully:

A father and his three children got on a bus in central London. The father was lost in his own thoughts, and the kids, being unsupervised, were loud and disruptive to the other passengers.

Finally, a lady in a nearby seat leaned over to the father and said, “You really need to parent your children better. They are so unruly.” The father, shaken from his reverie, says, “I’m so sorry. Their mother, my wife, just died and we are returning from her funeral. I think we are all a little overwhelmed. I apologize.”

Remember you can never know what’s really going on with someone at that particular moment so make compassion your default.

  1. Remember We Are All One

It helps me to remember we are all one. We all have suffering, we all want love and acceptance, and we all drop the ball sometimes. By remembering our shared humanity I can shift from taking things personally into a place of love and compassion for someone who is struggling.

This exercise comes from Ode Magazine and it gives you a framework to mentally rehearse when you are faced with a situation that calls forth your compassion. Focus on the person and tell yourself: 

“Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”

“Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”

“Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.”

“Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.” 

“Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

  1. Give Yourself A Break

Self-compassion is just as important as regular compassion. You will not be able to give what you do not have, so this practice is vital to your success in cultivating compassion. You are just as human as everyone else so when you fall down be gentle with yourself. If there is some aspect of your life you are not happy with, treat it with compassion as you are changing it. Give yourself the same consideration you would a child or a stranger.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” ~ Lao Tzu

September’s joy-full lesson is cultivating compassion grows the love you have in your life. Your love extends to the entire world when you approach life with compassion.

 

Here is a morning ritual practiced by the Dalai Lama to cultivate compassion. Plant this seed in your daily life and watch what wondrous beauty grows from it.

 

“Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

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Want to Win the Game of Life?

“It’s the game of life. Do I win or do I lose? One day they’re gonna shut the game down. I gotta have as much fun and go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave.” ~ Tupac Shakur

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” ~ Sai Baba

Who doesn’t love a good game? There is something that gets sparked in us when we play. We open up to fun, adventure, laughter, and flow when we engage in a game we love.

So why not create a life like that? One that filled with that spark of fun, adventure, laughter and flow? Well for one we take life very seriously and that sternness shuts off our ability to get in that zone. So how can you shift from life being a serious endeavor to life being a fun game? Here are three steps to transition you.

Decide to Play

Your first step is to decide to see life as a game. The reality is life happens every day. We get up, we go through our day, we have good things happen, we face challenges, we deal with the same irritation for the ten thousandth time, we feel a wide range of emotions, we judge whether or not the day was good or bad, and we go to bed so we can do it all over again tomorrow.

Those things are going to happen every day we wake up. But what we can control is how we approach life. It’s easy to get all wrapped up in the seriousness of life. The bills, the pressures, the daily irritations; these things tend to draw our attention to a dark place. Especially when they build up over time. We forget we have a choice about how we see life, but you do and I’m here to remind you to make a different choice today and give yourself a gift.

Decide to approach life as a game. You can still be serious about it, but with a sense of playfulness thrown in. Take for example those Green Bay fans, they take wearing those cheese hats very seriously, yet there is something very playful about their convictions! That’s what deciding to play the game of life will feel like for you.

Design the Game

Every good game first starts as a design in someone’s mind. You are your game master so it’s up to you to design your game. Pick an outcome you want in your life. Is it a better job? Or maybe a better relationship with your kids? Whatever it is decide on a topic.

Take out a really big sheet of paper or get a sheet of poster board. Make it a fun color. Now work backwards. Design it like The Game of Life or Candyland. Put on the end point you want to arrive at and draw a game board that gets you from where you are now to where you want to be. Include along the way the steps you need to get there and the obstacles that might pop up to get you off track. Make up some cards to help you out, maybe your version of a Get Out of Jail Free Card would be Give Myself a Pass for Making a Mistake Today. Get creative and create a small deck of reward cards and help cards.

By designing a game board you are infusing your process with the lightness of play.

Get in the Game

In order to play you must actually get in the game. This sounds obvious but many times my clients think they are playing their game but they are just watching from the sidelines. To get in the game you must take the actions needed to move you along. You must roll the dice, which looks like taking risks and making choices so your game piece can advance. Then you must take action and actually move forward. And then you must play the hand you get dealt. If you get stuck, pull a card. If you need help, phone a friend. If you lose a turn, take that time to rethink your strategy and look for the road that has the most fun and head that way.

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

July’s joy-full lesson is life happens. You will have to deal with the same stuff whether or not you feel burdened or you feel playful. You can’t control what happens out there but you can control how you react inside and that determines how much you enjoy your game of life. So please play. Please design a life filled with that spark of joy that comes from seeing life as an adventure instead of a burden.

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Make Your Best Possible Mistakes

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” ~ Kevyn Aucoin

“I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

First of all I’d like to say thank you for even reading this article. With a title like that I commend you for raising your hand and saying, “I want to know how to make better mistakes”. Kudos to you right from the start. You already have set yourself apart from the masses and I’m proud of you.

Secondly, I want to say mistakes are part of life. They happen. You drop the ball, you break a commitment, you hurt someone, you lose something valuable to you, or you fall flat on your face in front of a crowd. Ouch! We’ve all been there. These things will happen to you so the most important skill is how you handle them when they do.

Here are 5-steps for making the best possible mistakes.

  1. Be Courageous

Have the courage to make really big mistakes. The bigger the mistake the better the lesson. Small mistakes give you small information so go for it 100%! You are not helping yourself by always pulling on the reins of life because you are afraid something won’t work out. Give it all you have so life can return the favor.

  1. Trust Yourself

Too often we interpret mistakes as “wrong”. You doubt your ability to make the right choice, to hear your inner guidance, to trust you have what it takes when mistakes happen. Stop it! Mistakes are part of the process. The Native Americans had a saying about rain – they say the raindrops look random from our point of view but with enough distance the pattern would be apparent.

Trust yourself, trust your process, and trust the universe. With distance the pattern will become visible. Perhaps that “mistake” was the only way to get you to a point of transformation that eventually delivered the outcome you wanted. There might have been no other way to get there from where you started.

  1. Accept Your Mistakes

Embrace your mistakes. Take responsibility for them. They are yours: not someone else’s, not the result of a bad economy, and not the fault of outside influences. Mistakes are just information. By the way, “successes” are also just information. The only difference is you like one set of information and the other one you don’t.

The funny thing about acceptance is it frees you to move on. As long as you are dodging responsibility you cannot help but be chased by it. Turn around and embrace your mistakes. Thank them for the wisdom they shared with you, take responsibility for your portion, and move on free from the burden of dragging them around.

  1. Clean Up Your Mess

When a mistake hurts someone else or causes any kind of destruction, clean it up. Take responsibility and apologize. Sincerely communicate that you are sorry for the mess, the hurt, or the disappointment caused by your mistake.

Facing your responsibilities and apologizing frees not only you but the other party. Release any shame, hurt, or avoidance that your mistakes have generated. You will feel lighter.

  1. Laugh at Yourself

One of the best ways to not take mistakes so seriously is to laugh at yourself. Mistakes are universal – we all have those oops moments so lighten up and laugh.

Allow others to laugh with you too. If you can take things lightly you will have much more fun along your journey.

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” ~ Buddha

July’s joy-full lesson is to find joy in the process. The outcome will be what it is, but the process is directly under your control. Mistakes happen, successes happen, and both are essential to your overall life path. Embrace and enjoy.

 

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The Joy of Making Lemonade from Life’s Lemons

“If life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade – make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” ~ Ron White

Clichés are a way for us to turn big things into small, manageable bites. They help us make sense of our world even though they offer only a surface view. Such is the case with the cliché, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. That sounds nice but what does it actually mean?

I understand it’s saying make the best of every situation, but how? Just saying that we should do that doesn’t make it any easier. There are times in your life when things fall apart, you get sick, you lose your job, someone close to you dies, or you get a divorce. These things are the lemons life gives you. So how do you add the sweetness to these events to transform them from something bitter into something as sweet and refreshing as lemonade?

Here are three steps to help you find the sweetness when you go through hard times.

  1. Remember You Are Not Alone

Isolation keeps you trapped in tragedy. You are not alone. You are not the only person who has ever felt this way, has ever had to go through this, or has had this particular struggle. The thing about life is its lessons are universal.

So reach out for support. Allow others to help heal your wounds and support you through these hard times. Even if all they can offer is a shoulder to cry on and an attentive ear, you will feel better from reaching out and connecting with someone.

  1. Search For Your Silver Lining

When bad things happen it is human nature to get very caught up in the drama of it all. Bad feelings are very intense and they tend to expand with constant focus. It’s very easy to get mesmerized by them, much like the flute player mesmerizes the cobra.

So you must look away, even if for only a moment. Looking away will break the hold these feelings have on you and allow you to look for what else is available to you in this scenario. Even if a blessing or lesson is not readily apparent the fact that you expect it to show up and are actively looking for it will make it appear.

So open yourself up to the possibility of this event being the turn in the road that will lead to your greater good. Maybe you are sick because you are going to meet a doctor you will eventually fall in love with and marry. Maybe you lost your job because you were supposed to take a year off and help an orphanage in Africa, which is an opportunity you would have never considered because of your “responsibilities”.

I don’t know what lessons or gifts will emerge for you, but I do know you will find them if you look. They are there waiting for you to embrace them.

  1. You Have Power Over Your Story

How often have you retold the story of something bad that has happened to you? Do you fall into the trap of retelling your wrongs: recounting what bad things happened and who did you wrong?

I call this retelling photo talk. You take a moment in time and retell it like it was captured in a photograph. You have frozen it just as it was in the past, and as such you have frozen yourself in the past, unable to extract anything more from that picture than the details of the scene.

I suggest you free yourself from the pain of keeping that moment locked up and Photoshop your story. Ask yourself questions that tell the rest of the story and integrate the answers. Questions like, “What good came of this event?”, or “What did I learn?”, or “What about that lead me to be here right now?” or even, “What part of that am I grateful for?”. When you expend your version of the story you bring in the sweetness that transforms everything.

“In all my work, I try to say – ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?’” ~ Maya Angelou

June’s joy-full lesson is discovering the sweetness that is available in every situation, event, or person. Add it to your story and discover the joy of making lemonade from your life’s lemons.

 

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The Joy of Authenticity

“Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No – the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.” ~ Brene Brown

Authenticity seems to be a double edged sword – on the one hand we strive to be authentic, yet on the other it sometimes comes back to bite us. So what’s a girl to do?

Authenticity is defined as being real, not false, or copied. But what about those times being real is inappropriate? Imagine you are in the grocery store and you have just had the most frustrating phone conversation in a decade. The real thing to do would be to run up and down the aisles, screaming and tearing at your hair. After all, that’s what you really feel, right? But that would be one of those times being authentic in that moment would be a bad thing.

However, stuffing your feelings and just moving on through your day is also a bad thing. So where’s the sweet spot?

I believe that authenticity needs to be nurtured. You may have to be come back to it in a more appropriate moment, but it should be a priority. So in this grocery store example, while it might get you in hot water if you acted authentically right then that doesn’t mean you can’t do some screaming on the way home alone in your car. The important thing is not to get so invested in your polite mask that you forget to take it off and show how you really feel. This only makes things in your life worse because those feeling don’t go away they just seep out of small cracks in your veneer and do much more damage. An adage I’ve always loved is, “What gets buried alive, stays alive”.

Besides you are shortchanging the world by not being more fully you. You have a unique set of experiences, gifts, and ideas and the world needs you to play all out so we all can benefit from you walking the planet.

Marianne Williamson best described the calling we all have to be our most authentic self in her poem, Our Deepest Fear and it goes like this:

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 

So how do you peel back your masks and more authentic in a productive, affirming way? Let’s begin by asking yourself some questions to help uncover your authenticity.

Who is the most authentic person you know?

Write down the name of someone you consider to be very authentic. You may know them personally or not.

What qualities do they have that ring true to you?

What aspects or qualities do they display that, for you, make their essence ring true?

When are you your most authentic self?

In what situations or with what people are you your truest self?

What qualities do you display when you are being your most authentic self?

When you are in the above situations or with the above people, who are you? What qualities or aspects of you shine?

Where are you not your most authentic self?

When are the times you hide those above qualities? What situations cause you to be most guarded?

What is it about the times you are most guarded that cause you to hide?

What is it about these situations or people that cause you to hide your authenticity? Is it something you fear? Is it something about the environment that holds you back?

Can you bring yourself to be more authentic in more of your life?

Everything is a continuum. You are at your most authentic at your best and most guarded when you feel not safe. So what qualities do you posses at your best times that can be brought into other aspects of your life? This does not have to be a total overhaul but perhaps are there are ways you could be 10% more authentic, or maybe 50% more authentic? Sometimes seeing how you are leaving yourself out of situations is enough for you to commit to the call Marianne Williamson has for all of us to step into the light and shine.

“I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll

May’s joy-full lesson is to find the joy of being fully you in as many aspects of your life as possible. You are a gift and we are all diminished when you don’t give us the pleasure of your greatness.

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Your Attitude = Your Altitude

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.“ ~ Viktor E. Frankl

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” ~ John Lubbock

Imagine an emotions chart. On the bottom would be anger, resentment, depression, frustration, doubt, worry, and hopelessness. At the top would be joy, enthusiasm, passion, and optimism. So what moves you up and down the chart? Is it outside events? The things that happened to you? I say no – it’s your attitude about the things that happened to you.

Don’t think that’s true? Well let me make a case for this argument. I chose the two quotes at the top of this article for a reason. The first one is from Viktor Frankl, who was a concentration camp survivor. So if the outside events were the ones that powered your life what hope could he have of thriving? Instead, he demonstrated that even in the cruelest of instances, his attitude framed the event. His attitude had more power than the outside force, thus his life was defined from a point of power rather than a point of helplessness. In the most literal sense, your attitude defines your altitude on the emotions chart.

What are the reasons you are telling yourself for your attitude? Are you blaming your circumstances for how you feel? Or are you intentionally choosing to shift your perspective every time life throws you a curve ball?

The more responsibility you can take for your attitude the more joy you allow into your life.

The second quote shows us how attitude creates our world. This concept is best described by a West African folktale that goes like this:

There was once an elderly and wise gentleman who lived in a village. He would often spend his days sitting in the shade of a big tree in the center of the village, reading books and talking to passersby. One day, a traveler came upon his village and stopped and said, “Old man, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?”

The elderly gentleman looked up at him and replied, “Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found on your travels.”

The traveler scowled and said, “Old man, I have met people who cheat, steal, and aren’t kind to strangers, and people who don’t look out for one another.”

The elderly gentleman looked up and, with a faint look of sadness in his eyes, said, “Oh my friend, those are the people you will find in my village.” The traveler kicked the dirt under his feet, scoffed, and marched off towards the village.

By and by, as the elderly gentleman continued to enjoy his day, another traveler came walking through the village. Once again, the traveler stopped and asked, “Please kind sir, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?”

The elderly gentleman said, “Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found in your travels.”

The traveler replied, “I have found people who are kind and welcoming of strangers, people who care for one another, and people who love. These are the people I have met in my travels.”

The elderly gentleman looked up and, with the faintest smile in his eyes, said, “My friend, those are the people you will find in my village.”

So what world is your attitude creating? Look around. Are you looking for things that annoy you? Are you looking for problems and worries? Or like the second traveler are you looking for good things in your life? Are you actively seeking the silver lining around every event? Remember, everything that has ever happened to you has gotten you here. So without these experiences, you would not know what you know nor could you have the good things you have now.

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” ~ Khalil Gibran

April’s joy-full lesson is to take a big picture view to hold onto a positive attitude. That way you will actively create the joy you want in your life.

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Makeover Your Money Mindset

“Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.” ~ John Ruskin

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” ~ Ayn Rand

“Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.” ~ Erich Fromm

How would you feel if every time you walked up to someone they cringed? Or tensed up? Or maybe you overheard them saying bad things about you to others, like you are dirty, stingy, and smell bad. And they think your friends are stupid and they look down on them.

Do you think you’d go out of your way to hang out with people who felt that way about you? No! You’d run the other way as fast as you could. Of course you say “I’d never treat anyone that way”, yet if your name is Money then you get that treatment all the time. So while you might not treat another person that way openly, why do you do it to money?

Everything is energy – and we attract or repel by the energetic vibration we emanate. Imagine you are surrounded by a cloud of energetic vibration, like Pigpen’s dust cloud in the Peanuts cartoon strip. You have the power to switch that cloud from a positive, attracting vibration to a negative, repelling vibration at will. What makes it change is the thoughts you think and the words you speak. It can only reflect, it cannot operate individually.

Now remember everything is surrounded by a very same cloud. Everything has its own unique vibration, and is able to draw closer to you or repel away from you. And money is no different.

So to attract more money into your life you must make friends with it. You must align your vibration to an attracting resonance that money responds to. And to do so there are three steps to repair your friendship with money.

Acknowledge Money’s Purpose

“Money cannot buy peace of mind. It cannot heal ruptured relationships, or build meaning into a life that has none.” ~ Richard M. DeVos

You first must repair your idea of what money’s purpose is. Most think money is there to be gotten. That it is a necessary evil to be fought for and hoarded. Many people have a real love hate relationship to money because they misunderstand it. They believe they love the things it can do for them but hate feeling dependent on it so they simultaneously crave it and despise it.

Basically, not the foundation for a beautiful friendship! Let me help clear things up for you. Money’s purpose is to show appreciation. That’s so important I’m going to repeat it so please pay attention. Money’s purpose is to show appreciation. Sit with that for a minute and let it sink in. For most of you this is a radically new concept.

Ok so now you’re thinking I’m crazy, but allow me to explain. We constructed money to stand in for appreciation. If there were no money and you went into a store and saw a beautiful shirt that you wanted, what would be the exchange? You would pick up the shirt, go to the shopkeeper, and express appreciation for the gift. You’d say, “This is lovely, the workmanship is really beautiful, thank you so much!” This is because things we get when money doesn’t change hands we call gifts and we treat them in this manner.

But somehow money gunks up this process and we get off track. We take our eye off the gift aspect and focus on all the false layers we’ve put on money itself.

Acknowledge Money’s Gifts

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.” ~ Mother Teresa

We have overlaid many false expectations on money and they all take us away from its true purpose. We expect money to bring us happiness, to offer us security, and to up our self-esteem. The funny part is it can do all those things, but as a side benefit of its purpose, not as its purpose itself.

Money allows you to get back into the flow of appreciation. Its only purpose is to expand your reach. Without money you would only be able to impact a small circle of people, but now with a global economy you can touch people all over the world.

When you strip everything else way and just use money as appreciation and appreciate its ability for you to do so, then everything else you desire will flow to you.

Acknowledge Money’s Greater Good in Your Life

“Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.” ~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

So how do you get back to basics with money and repair your friendship? You must begin by shifting your thoughts and words. This will feel clunky at first so be patient with yourself. You must monitor your first thoughts when money comes up. For example, when you look at a price tag, you get a bill, or someone asks you for a donation, do you tense up? Do you get a flash of irritation around spending money because then you’ll have less? Basically, do you become that person at the beginning of this article? That’s when you need to pivot and shift your energy vibration.

When the opportunity for money to flow out of your hands arises, relax and show appreciation. In our world, money has to flow out of your hands. You can’t get through the day without that happening. And you can do it any way you want, however one way will help money flow back in while the other will clog up that flow. So how you feel when money goes out impacts how it comes back to you.

So when you are given an opportunity, show appreciation. When you get your credit card bill go through it line by line and show appreciation for the thing you were able to purchase, or the experience you had. When the water bill comes due, pause and actively think of how much you appreciate having fresh, clean water at your fingertips. How delightful that shower is every morning, and how wonderful those city workers are who make that possible for you to experience.

In like manner, when money comes to you, pause and feel the appreciation it is showing you. It is in your hands because someone values what you do, what you contribute, or who you are. Take in that acknowledgment of value and thank the money for standing in as the proxy of appreciation.

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

March’s joy-full lesson is money is a vehicle for appreciation. When you use money in this way you will allow all the benefits you wanted money itself to bring you into your life. By interacting with money as a proxy you get into a vibrational alignment with it and free it up to open the floodgates of happiness you desire. It is my hope that you live a joyous, wealthy life.

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February is for Fun Lovers

“Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.” ~ Nina Dobrev

“’Have fun’ is my message. Be silly. You’re allowed to be silly. There’s nothing wrong with it.” ~ Jimmy Fallon

This is month 2 in our year of joy-full living. Last month we discussed the magic of tidying up your physical space. This month we will discover falling back in love with fun.

So what’s the last really fun thing you did? Was it so long ago you can’t even remember?

There’s an old sales adage that says people buy emotionally but they justify their purchase with logic. That’s the opposite of how we view fun in our life. We don’t buy into having fun because of other’s emotional needs and override our urge with logic. Logic says we’re too busy, it’s not important, or everyone else’s needs are more important. We get frazzled and flustered and just forget about fun.

Well, here are some interesting tidbits of information that will help you put logic in the back seat and let fun drive for a while.

Did you know that according to research done by Penn State University professor Dr. Careen Yarnal a life without fun is actually unhealthy. Dr. Yarnal says,

“Our research has shown that when women get out there and play, the benefits are amazing. They cope better with stress, which sets up protective mechanisms that contribute to health and well-being. And if they play with others, it creates bonding and they get the benefit of social support, as well. Just as we know play is healthy for children, helping them blow off steam, learn, experiment, and make friends, we’re finding the same to be true for adult women. When it comes to stress prevention, play is like wearing a suit of armor.”

Furthermore, the latest Japanese research revealed that spending as little as 2 hours a month laughing or listening to your favorite music has as big an effect on blood pressure as eliminating salty foods or even shedding 10 pounds!

Have I got your attention yet? So here are some tips on putting the joy of fun back into your life.

Find Fun in Your Flow

What causes you to lose time and get in the flow? Is it riding a bike, reading a novel, knitting, baking, gardening, or hiking? Get back in the flow of those activities. If it’s been so long you can’t remember, try some new ones and see which ones light up your life.

First Fun Then Work

Prioritize fun. There are many things that take up our time that are not necessary. Where can you turn the tables and put fun in front of chores, errands, or other extras in your life? Studies have shown that housework is not an effective cortisol reducer, so it doesn’t lower your stress level whereas play is a sure fire fix. So wouldn’t it feel better to play first and then get to that other stuff from a more renewed place? I bet you get more done with less time.

Fashion Fun with Your Fingers

Do something creative. Let your inner child come out to play. Paint, finger paint, draw, quilt, garden, write, cook, take up a craft. Discover something you can do with your hands that takes you back to your childhood feelings of fun and excitement.

Funky Fun and Fancy Footwork

Add music to your every day life. Have a playlist that brings up your mood and makes you want to move your feet. It’s ok to dance in the kitchen when cooking dinner or doing the dishes. It’s ok to rock out in the morning as you’re getting ready. Play tunes that evoke fun memories or jazz you up for the day ahead. Either way, get out of your head and into your body and have fun.

Fun with Fitness

Here is where you can really be a kid again. You could go to the gym and walk on the treadmill but that’s what all the adults are doing. Why not burn calories hula hooping, jumping rope, or skipping? Find fun in active play and make your logical mind and your inner child happy. You will feel good and feel good about it at the same time!

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” ~ Dr. Seuss

February’s joy-full lesson is to feed your life with jolts of fun. You don’t have to take time off work for a vacation or learn a new skill; just find little ways to insert more fun into your daily life. This month allow yourself to fall in love with fun again.

 

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2016: Creating a Year Filled with Joy

“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll

Dear friends as we approach this new year I want us to travel through this year on a quest for joy. Every month we will discover a new portal for obtaining more joy in our life. I want to kick off this new year with my personal starting point of joy, a wonderful experience I had that shifted so much in my life.

Last year I had a radical transformation. I came across a new way of thinking that changed everything. And it all started with piling all my shirts on my bed and sorting them. Actually, it was a little more involved than that, but not much. I discovered Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and indeed it changed my life.

“From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change. That’s why the task of putting your house in order should be done quickly. It allows you to confront the issues that are really important. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.” ~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

So here we all are at January, our clean slate month: the start of 2016. Everything has the possibility of being brand new. So this year let’s take a personal journey together and co-create a joy-full year.

“Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”
~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This month I will discuss the life-changing magic tidying up has had on my life and encourage you to discover it for yourself. For the next 11 more months of 2016 we will examine a different topic and assess how it can be used to bring joy into your life. 2016 will be a tidy package of joy-full moments for you so please join me on this enchanted journey.

My Personal Tidying Up Story

“[T]he best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”
~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Someone I respected told me about Marie Kondo’s book; she gushed about the difference in her life just from a few simple steps of organizing and interacting with her piles of physical stuff. It was one of those When Harry Met Sally moments and I thought, “I’ll have what she’s having, please”. So I took her advice and got the book. And more importantly, I actually read it and put the practices into action!

But I want to be real. It was not easy. The first step is to pile all your shirts on your bed and sort them. Then you move on to pants, shorts, seasonal, dress clothes, etc. The point is to take all of one thing at a time and examine each piece in order to decided to keep it or discard it. But you sort by only one criterion: “Does this item bring me joy?” Simple but not easy.

“Many people carry this type of negative self-image for years, but it is swept away the instant they experience their own perfectly clean space. This drastic change in self-perception, the belief that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, transforms behavior and lifestyles. This is precisely why my students never experience rebound. Once you have experienced the powerful impact of a perfectly ordered space, you, too, will never return to clutter.”
~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

I wish I could tell you I breezed right through it, but that’s not true. There where moments I broke down crying, as I was totally overwhelmed. There were moments I wanted to stop because I was ashamed at the sheer number of items I had. There were also moments I was embarrassed because I had clothes I could no longer fit into and I got into a struggle with my self-esteem because of that fact.

One of the wonderful aspects of this process is it is not easy to run away from it. For example, since I had to collect all my shirts and pile them on the bed I had a mound of clothes. When I mentally slipped into negativity I could not just turn on the TV, or decide to do it later. If I had organized things in small batches like a drawer at a time, or a small section of my closet, then I would have a back door to slip out of when discomfort arose. But then I would have missed out on the most important lessons that tidying had to teach me.

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The lesson is each of those times I had slipped out of the magic of the process I had slid into old negative beliefs. The magic is the power of being in the moment with your things and either experience appreciation for the joy they bring you or acknowledge your gratitude for the role they played in your life as you set them free. So it is a seesaw of appreciation and acknowledgment. These are the hinges that swing open the door of joy and magic in your life.

Doing this dance is the purpose. The tidying is the cherry on top. Learning that it’s ok for you to fall out of joy is the first step. By accepting this dance as a natural part of life, you can distance yourself from self-judgment. It just is, it’s not wrong and you didn’t fail. It’s just an essential part of the process. Noticing you have slid into old negativity is another good skill. The more you practice this the shorter your time in the ditch will be. And thirdly, learning how to get back on track is invaluable. Having the confidence that you can turn around your thoughts and actions will give you the power to do so.

I wanted to start with physical items to practice on this month because they are easier. By beginning with items you can hold and interact with you can practice being in this magic, careening off the road into self doubt, shame, overwhelm, and then getting back on track, shifting back into the moment, and picking up where you left off.

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” ~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

I invite you to pick up Marie Kondo’s book and kick off your New Year with a magical encounter with the physical stuff that supports and loves you. Revel in the notion that your things all yearn to please you and when they have fulfilled that purpose, they yearn to move on so they can please another. Bathe in the gratitude that everything in your home desires to support you, to make you look good, to allow you to create, to sooth your senses, and to nurture your life.

“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure. To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” ~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

January’s joy-full lesson is to discover the joy that is all around you. And by paring down to only the things that currently serve your highest good, you amplify that in your life. Find great joy in freeing yourself.

 

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The Secret to Creating Joy This December

“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

December is a cusp month. It’s the ending of this year and the lead into next year. That alone is anxiety provoking; it’s the last opportunity to meet your yearly goals, it’s a time to reflect and measure your success, and it’s reminder that time is passing quickly, whether or not you’ve met your goals or caught the brass ring of success. On top of all that, we pile on some major holidays that ramp up the anxiety with expectations of fun and togetherness, which leads us to overspend, overextend, and over indulge.

Ugh! No wonder many of us dread December. But it doesn’t have to be that way this year. This year you can create a December that is full of joy. How? By meaning to, I mean really getting clear about your intention and using it to guide your actions. Joy doesn’t happen accidentally; you must actively allow it to show up in your life.

So here’s your secret three-step process to creating joy this December.

  1. Create Intentional Outcomes

“It’s very easy to confuse confident motion with being productive – and they’re not the same thing. Productive to me means measurable outcomes that apply to my most important to-dos that positively affect my life. That’s it.” ~ Timothy Ferriss

Clarity is essential to creation. You must have some concrete idea of what life looks like when joy is present, otherwise you’ll never know if you have it or not. So here’s an easy way to craft what joy looks like in your life.

Get a large index card or a piece of paper. Write these three headings: The World, My Loved Ones, and Myself. Under these three headings write 3-5 bullet points of what joy would look like if it were present.

For example, under The World heading you would list things that feel joyful as it pertains to your activities in your world. So one bullet point could read, I will express appreciation to all the people who wait on me, check me out at the store, or otherwise help me navigate my day. I will do this with a smile, a sincere thank you, and a compliment. Another could be, I will look for at least one opportunity to help someone less fortunate this month, such as visiting someone at a nursing home or helping underprivileged kids. Your third bullet point might be, I will make a donation to Heifer International so some third world family will be able to rise from poverty and change their life.

This heading helps you focus on the positive impact you have in the world. It’s really hard to feel overwhelmed and stressed out when you are sincerely helping someone else. This shift allows joy to be part of your December celebration.

The first heading focuses on action, but the next two headings should focus on feelings. Write down at least three ways you want to feel when you are with your loved ones. Under the Myself heading write down at least three ways you want to feel this month, or about your year, or about some aspect of yourself you are usually critical about.

Once you have your list you are ready for step two.

  1. Take Intentional Actions

“The right actions undertaken for the right reasons generally lead to good outcomes over time.” ~ John Mackey

This is where people often go off the rails. We all have good intentions for how we want to be, what we want to do, and how we want to show up in the world. Yet, we then often go out and do the exact opposite of what we want and wonder what went wrong! Please dear reader, this seems simple but it’s not easy. This step is designed to keep you on track.

Here’s how this works. If you wrote under your My Loved Ones heading that you wanted to feel more connected, then script out how that might happen. Does that mean you will call them more often? And when you call does that mean you will ask questions about their life and listen without giving your two cents worth? And can you say something encouraging on the call so they feel connected to you?

Maybe under your Myself heading you said you wanted to feel more energized. So does that mean making a commitment to turning off the TV and computer 30 minutes before a reasonable bedtime so you wind down and get a good night’s sleep? Does that mean taking a 10-minute walk at lunch?

When you take the time to intentionally craft actions that support the results you want then you are 100% more likely to reach them. These purposeful actions allow joy to come into your life.

Now that you have crafted the actions needed to reach your intended goals, you are ready to move to step three.

  1. Intentionally Re-Engage

“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” ~ Vince Lombardi

OK now you have a list of what you want and you’ve brainstormed some actions that will get you to those goals. However, life happens. You got up from the table and went out and did the exact opposite of what you just said you wanted; and you know that because you are experiencing the exact opposite feeling from the one you wanted to create.

So you assess your actions. Keep your list handy, carry it with you so you can pull it out and review it. When you get off track immediately check your list, get back in the mindset of joy, and do something that matches your desired end result. Do something right away; even something small, and you will feel back in the zone. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t dwell on your mistake, just make it right with your next right action. You learn how to ride a bike by getting back on after you fall off; otherwise no learning occurs.

The process works if you work it. Here it is again:

  1. Create Intentional Outcomes
  2. Take Intentional Actions
  3. Intentionally Re-Engage when you get off track

Let this three-step process joyfully guide you through December. I hope your holidays are filled with love, peace, and happiness. Give thanks for 2015 and all she brought with her and I will see you next year!

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November Gratitude Contest

“The month of November makes me feel that life is passing more quickly. In an effort to slow it down, I try to fill the hours more meaningfully.” ~ Henry Rollins

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~ A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~ John Milton

November is our national month of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is such a lovely name, it sounds so warm and encouraging. Unfortunately for most of us when the turkey has been reheated for the final time and the last guest has left that’s not the feeling that comes to mind. Have you found this to be true for you?

As wonderful as the holiday sounds it’s full of stress, expectations, and unpleasant family dynamics. You cook for days and the meal last for an hour. Everyone rushes in to be together only to slip into old patterns and fights occur. Every year you resolve to do better, take it easy, put on a happy face only to see your resolve crumble after the hundredth snarky comment from your mother-in-law.

Hey I’ve been there. I know what you’re dealing with! So this year I thought I’d give you a treat; a new approach for Thanksgiving that focuses on gratitude and appreciation. This approach is designed to fill up your bucket, bolster your reserves, and change your focus so when the big day comes you go into it from a new place.

This year please join me in the November Gratitude Contest. This game starts now – as soon as you read this then it’s time for you to begin. The game is simple – it’s like a scavenger hunt only instead of clues you are searching for ways to spread gratitude and appreciation.

Here are five guidelines to help you succeed.

  1. Give Someone an Unexpected Complement

I started with the easiest first because this little appreciation can be extended to anyone. Try it at the checkout counter. Say thanks to your mail carrier or your barista. But be as specific as possible; hearing “Good job” is less rewarding as, “Every time I come in here your smile makes my day”.

If you feel a bit awkward, I promise after the first or second time you will be looking for people to complement. There is a wonderful energy exchange when you put this into play. Try it for yourself and see what I mean. You will be the one filled up with appreciation.

  1. Make a Genuine Offer of Help

Another way to show appreciation is to help someone out. By reaching out you are connection appreciation and action. Everyone needs help but we are not trained to ask for it or receive it well. So the important part of this piece of the game is to ask in a specific way. “Can I help?” or “Let me know if there is anything I can do” does not count. The other person is programed to say, “No thanks, I’ve got it”. After all, that’s what you’d say, right?

So find a specific request you can make. Something like, “Can I carry those bags for you?” or “ I know you are working on that volunteer project, can I help stuff food bags this Saturday?” is specific and much more likely to get a “Thanks, I’d appreciate your help”.

  1. Express Your Admiration

Congratulate someone on their success. If you’ve read a book you really like, tell the author. If you read in the paper that someone got an award or started a company, send a note saying you admire their accomplishment.

Make this a way to surprise someone with 100% appreciation, nothing more. And give yourself a bonus if you can include how whatever it is has affected your life. Again, the more specific you can be the stronger the reward.

  1. Apologize to Someone You Hurt

Say what? Hey what just happened here? You had me until now. Is that what you’re thinking? Well hold on and let me explain. Regret is a universal blocker of gratitude and appreciation. Doesn’t matter what the regret is about or if it has anything to do with what’s going on in your life right now. So clean it up. Today would be good.

Just approach the person you let down and say you are sorry. Don’t justify or try to make them understand why you did what you did. Don’t let them know that by the way you think they are at fault too. Those things make lousy apologies.

Just say you are sorry, say why you are sorry, and take 100% of the responsibility.

Do you have a teenager? Here’s an apology that will shift regret; “I’m sorry I yelled at you for [fill in the blank], my intention is to treat you with respect and I totally blew it. Please forgive me”. Try this at home and see if it doesn’t also boost your work atmosphere. Everything is connected so get going and find someone you can say you are sorry to right away.

  1. Acknowledge Someone Who Believed in You

Seek out someone from your past and say thank you. Thank them for the impact they had on you. Did they see something in you that you didn’t see? Did they give you encouragement or a safe place to vent? Did they boost your self-esteem or help you through a rough patch? Then let them know! A good place to look is old teachers, coaches, bosses, and friends: basically anyone is fair game. Just reach out and express your gratitude. Send a note or make a call. If your old teacher has passed away, then if possible let their kids know what an impact their parent had on you. Believe me it matters. Your life will overflow with love, gratitude, and appreciation the more you give it away.

What’s a game without a prize? I’m glad you asked. I want to say thank you to you for reading my articles and give you a little incentive to get going on our game so I created a contest. Each section has a point value and it’s as follows:

Unexpected Compliments = 15 points

Offering Help = 25 points

Expressing Admiration = 20 points

Sincerely Apologizing = 30 points

Acknowledging Someone = 30 points

When you reach 100 points you can be entered into a drawing for a free session with me. Here’s how you enter; keep a scorecard and when you reach at least 100 points email me at donna@donnaburick.com with November Gratitude Contest in the subject line. Include your name, phone number, and your scorecard details. If you’d like to include your experience with this game I’d love to hear it too. On December 1st, 2015 I will randomly draw from all the entries and notify the winner.

This prize is a bonus incentive. Just by playing the game you are a winner. Your November will be more amazing than you can imagine. Go ahead – give it a go and really experience Thanksgiving.

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How to Make Friends with Your Intuition

“The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become.” ~ Gisele Bundchen

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” ~ Alan Alda

One of the topics I’m most passionate about is how to live more intuitively. I teach my clients how to really get in touch with their own inner guidance so their lives can unfold more easily. But there is a threshold that you must crossover to reap this benefit. Until that point, relying on your intuition is a frustrating, uneasy process. So I wanted to give you some ways to create a friendship with your intuition so the two of you can have a much more fun, exciting relationship.

Here are five steps to strengthening the bonds between you and your inner voice.

Stop Crowding

Your intuition needs space. She’s like a shy doe that needs a quiet clearing before she will come out of the protection of the woods. Too often though you expect it to rush into an arena filled with shouting and chaos. I’m here to tell you, that’s not going to happen.

If you haven’t yet seen the animated Pixar movie, Inside Out then please watch it. It’s a really cute representation of how our emotions control out thoughts and actions. So imagine that in your head fear is running around, waving her hands in the air, screaming. And anger is stomping up and down, while panic is ricocheting off the walls. During all this cacophony, your intuition is the wallflower, pressed up against the wall with her eyes shut and her hands over her ears. Needless to say, this is not when you will get the most out of her.

Stop Nagging

The second mistake I see my clients do is to create a nice quiet spot for their intuition to step into and then they immediately start barraging her with questions. They pounce on her with what if’s, and incessant questions about outcomes and assurances. So it’s nice you’ve coaxed her out, but unfortunately she’s on the floor in the fetal position with her eyes closed and her hands over her ears. Probably not the outcome you were hoping for.

Start Listening

I know the first two steps are hard. It feels like controlling a kindergarten class hyped up on Mountain Dew. But you must corral everyone else into their seats and calmly open the floor to your intuition. It’s only then can you begin to hear her voice. And you must really listen because at first you won’t really recognize her unique voice. Have you ever watched a TV show and the bad guy uses that machine that disguises his voice? That’s what happens when you hear your intuition through your filters. To make sure you hear the clear, true voice of your intuition you must remove your filters of judgment and expectation you have about a situation. Without doing this the distorted voice you listen to will lead you in the wrong direction and you’ll believe your intuition is not on your side.

Stop Dismissing

Ok – you’ve quieted all the voices of panic and fear, you’ve drawn your intuition out and she’s spoken to you. What do you do next? You dismiss her of course. I’ve seen it happen time and again. You ask for a sign. You get a hunch and then you poo-poo it with logic and rationality. You’re told to go to a certain place and immediately decide that you don’t have time, or it’s further away so you’ll go somewhere closer, or any other logical thing that pops up. And since your logic makes perfect sense you follow it. However, the point you’re missing is you asked for magic. You asked for synchronicity. You asked for the unseen universe to conspire upon your behalf. Your intuition tried to deliver it to you, except you allowed logic to laugh it out of the room.

Start Trusting

Trust is an action verb. It demands you act on your hunches. It wants you to get going when you get a green light. Start small if it frightens you. Ask for hunches on little things and then follow them. Start building a track record. All good friendships are built on reciprocity. When your intuition gives you something give back by honoring her gift and following through. This way when something big comes around the two of you are old friends and know you can count on one another to see yourselves through this issue.

These steps are simple but not easy. I’m here for your questions and if you need any additional help to strengthen your intuition. If your hunch is telling you to reach out, then please do it. Call me at 336-540-0088, email me at donna@donnaburick.com, or leave a comment below.

 

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Want to Always Make the Right Decision?

Its-not-hard-to-make-decisions-when-you-know-what-your-values-are“The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert 

“When faced with two equally tough choices, most people choose the third choice: to not choose.” ~ Jarod Kintz,

“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” ~ Michelle Obama

 

Have you ever been paralyzed by an upcoming decision? Not able to make any choice? Or do decisions plague you causing angst and turmoil for days, leaving you exhausted by the time you choose?

You are not alone! Many of us have trouble with decisions. So today I wanted to give you a 5-step process to allow you to always make the right decision.

  1. Acknowledge Your Inherent Grief

“The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you never know where it might have led.” ~ Lisa Wingate

Making a choice means also choosing not to take other options. This part of decision making is hard when you don’t make it part of the process.

By bringing in the idea that you will feel grief over what you passed up you are freer to make better decisions. This is one of the reasons you agonize over decisions, so acknowledge to yourself there will be things you will be letting go of and feel your feelings about that.

This is not a sign that your decision is incorrect. This is just a normal part of the process.

The word decide has “cide” in it, much like homicide and suicide. Decide means death of choice because you are collapsing your option into one committed, definitive choice.

Please relax into this side of choosing, knowing that all options have equally good opportunity for giving you experience and wisdom.

  1. Acknowledge Your Overthinking

“Truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

When faced with a decision do you constantly overthink it? Churning the options around in your head until you are totally confused and unsure?

The best way to handle this aspect of the process is to acknowledge your thoughts. You can do this by stopping and really listening to them. Take out a piece of paper and write them down. By paying attention to them they can stop knocking at your consciousness. Once they feel heard and so they can make space for your heart to speak.

Next take out another sheet of paper and sit quietly. Write the question you have on the top of your paper and just sit in a relaxed position. You are allowing time and space for your heart to give you its feedback but you must slow down and open up to receive this information.

Write whatever comes to you without censoring it. Just write until there is no more. If you need help with beginning start by writing a sentence like, “The information I need to hear about this decision is…” Sometimes beginning to move your hand primes the pump and the information flows.

  1. Acknowledge Your Values

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” ~ Roy Disney

Decision-making is easier when put into a holistic context. First get clear on your values and then put your choices in that context.

If your #1 value is family then passing on that promotion that includes lots of travel and overtime is much easier because there is no confusion about what outcome you want to achieve with your decision. All you need to do in this situation is ask yourself some value based questions like, “How will this impact my family” and/or “What will making this choice change?”

  1. Acknowledge Yourself

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Have great confidence in yourself as a decision maker. Often you don’t give yourself enough credit for knowing what’s right for you. Trust your inner guidance.

Here is another easy way to access your inner guidance in order to make a decision – flip a coin. If you get the answer and then have an immediate negative reaction to it then that’s a sign of what you really want.

By making it a game the mind gets out of the way a bit and allows your inner knowing to guide you in the form of an initial reaction.

  1. Acknowledge Your Actions

“Action expresses priorities.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Action means you are moving forward. Action is the only way to express your self in the world.

The only wrong decision is no decision because you are withdrawing from the process instead of actively participating in your life.

Any decision you choose is the right one for you at this time. Every decision will provide you with a unique set of experiences and knowledge so there cannot be a wrong choice.

By following these 5 steps and by believing that any choice you make is right for you right now is how you can always be assured of making the right choice!

Have fun with this and please let me know if you have questions or comments. I’m available by phone, email, or post a comment below. I love hearing from you!

 

 

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Lessons in Trust Learned in a Float Tank

trustyourself“Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s.” ~ Billy Wilder

“Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware.” ~ David Armistead

I decided to take my own advice and do something totally differently and just see how it turns out. So I headed to Asheville for a weekend of R&R and against my nature I did not plan my activities.

I did not have dinner reservations already made for each night. I did not have a schedule of things to do. I did not have any idea what would unfold. What I did do is make room for something amazing and waited expectantly for it to show up. And it did!

I was in this wonderful teahouse there, Dobra Tea, having a nice cup of green tea, sitting on the floor cushion, just hanging out. The two young men next to me were discussing an appointment one of them was headed to in a few minutes to experience a float tank.

A float tank is a sensory deprivation tank that has a few inches of salt water in it. You are placed in the tank, the door is closed shutting off all light and sound, and you float on your back in the buoyant salt water for an hour.

This sounded so amazing I just had to apologize for eavesdropping and find out more information. As it turns out an Asheville spa, Stillpoint Wellness, has an amazing float tank. Right then and there I called Stillpoint and they had an opening the next day, so of course I grabbed it!

This experience was really wonderful and illuminating. Spending an hour in total isolation taught me a few things about trust and I’d like to share some of them with you today.

My Breath is Enough

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

“Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret of life.” ~ Gregory Maguire

When I was totally cut off from all other sensory inputs what I had was my breath. I could feel it like never before. I could hear it in my head as I inhaled and exhaled. I knew that as long as I focused on my breath then that was enough.

Your breath is an anchor. It has the power to calm and restore you. However since it’s so automatic and other things are brighter and louder, the breath gets overlooked. Breath can reset your nervous system and expand your energy. Notice right now how deeply (or not) you are breathing. Track not only your inhale but how fully you exhale. Trust your breath – when you get overwhelmed or freaked out lean into your breath and let it support you by bringing it fully in and letting it fully out.

Trust Creates a Dance

“The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become.” ~ Gisele Bundchen

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I was only in about 12 inches of water but I felt totally supported and buoyant. As I floated around this large, dark tank I was able to really let go and unwind the stress from my body and mind. As my muscles deeply let go my body literally began to bend and dance in the water. My arms swayed back and forth, my torso bent in half causing my arms and legs to meet each other in a flowing dance.

By trusting the water to hold me I was free to move in ways I’m not able to do when on land. I could feel my tension slip away and my total consciousness, both physically and mentally, get lighter and lighter.

How You Handle the Wall is Key

“Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It’s part of our life. “ ~ Aimee Mullins

“Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it.” ~ Stephen Harper

When being instructed on the tank I was told to gently push off the walls when I bumped them. If I pushed off too hard then I would be propelled into the reciprocal wall. So as I floated about I would bump up against the wall and I would gently push off, just enough so I’d glide to the center where it was most expansive and I had the most room.

It struck me how this applies to life also. When we are in the creative dance of life we will bump up against walls. If we trust the flow to take us to the most expansive place then we treat the wall gently. However, if we think we need to “make it happen” then we tend to push off with great force, thinking erroneously that’s better, only to find ourselves hitting another wall very soon.

Without the more global insight we don’t see the correlation between how we treat the wall and our outcomes. They seem independent of one another. But I tell you it is amazing what you can “see” when you are in total darkness.

So trust the flow, the next wall you come up against push away as gently as you can. Give the smallest amount of effort or reaction and see if the result isn’t more open and freeing.

By being open for wonderful things to happen I allowed myself an experience I wouldn’t of had. I did not know about this floatation tank so it would have not been on my to do list. I would not have had the time to fit it in if I had already pre-scheduled myself.

I just went with the expectation of having a magical time and was alert for possibility. And lucky for me it showed up in the most unexpected place and led me to a most unexpected but wonderful experience.

Engage that level of trust in your life. This week announce that you are open to something wonderful just dropping into your life and then be watchful for it. And when you see it grab it – I did and it was magical!

Have fun with this and please let me know if you have questions or comments. I’m available by phone, email, or post a comment below.  I love hearing from you!

 

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Spice Up Your Summer

summer-sayings“The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it.” ~ Daniel Gilbert

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.” ~ Diane Ackerman

Here we are in the middle of summer and it’s hot! The kind of sticky hot that drains your energy and the only antidote is a cool shady spot with a tall glass of iced tea and mint. Somehow everything else seems like too much work.

I originally wanted to title this article How to Heat Up Your Summer but I thought you’d pass, saying, “No thanks, don’t need any more of that!”

However spice was a better word because I’m talking about inner heat not outer heat. Heat is a transformational element. It changes things from one state to another. The process isn’t always good feeling but the results are spectacular!

So are you willing to spice up your summer? Are you ready to add some heat into your life to get a different outcome?

Your World

Add some spice to your life this summer to heat things up. I know it’s hot, but use that as a touchstone. Every time you realize you’re hot, pause a minute and ask yourself, “What about this situation/my life can I look at differently right now?

Use the external heat to trigger your conscious mind to remember to have a new perspective, see someone else’s side, or just react differently to see what new outcomes you can produce.

For example, if you have a child that you are in a power struggle with and they say something that triggers annoyance or anger in you, pause a moment and instead reply, “That’s interesting. Tell me more about that.”

Your Senses

Tap into the power of your senses to spice up your summer.

Eat something new. Try a dish a bit hotter than normal. Eat with your nose pinched shut so your taste buds need to inform you of the flavors you are experiencing. Did you know that according to a University of Nebraska study about 75% of what you perceive as taste is really smell? See if shutting off your smell sharpens your taste.

Change your location. Typically dinner tables end up with “assigned” seats, so switch it around. Sit in a different seat and see if that opens up a different view, both literally and figuratively. You not only see what the other person sees you have a chance to see things from their eyes too.

Your Choices

They don’t call it the summer doldrums for no reason. Make choices this summer that are fun and stimulating. Don’t forget the power of heat to transform.

Watch sensory stimulating movies. Here are two of my all time favorite delicious movies. Both of these are a feast of food & love!

Chocolat is a story of a woman and her daughter who come to a very rigid French town and shake things up with their chocolate creations. Vianne, played by Juliet Binoche, creates magical transformations in the lives of the townspeople with her combination of flavors, spices and chocolates. And of course Johnny Depp’s character gets a nod for portraying the transformational power of love.

The Mistress of Spices tells the story of an Indian woman who is trained in the art of spices. She serves her clients by providing them with the correct blend of spices to accomplish what they desire. She is sent to San Francisco to open a spice shop and fulfill her calling. This movie is a visual delight.

If you haven’t seen either of these check them out. If you have other movies that satisfy the senses, please let me know so I can see them.

This month do things that are visually stimulating, sensory stimulating, and get your juices flowing.

There are some fantastic art galleries and museums in this town and within a short drive. Get inspired, get creative, and get enthused by a piece of art.

Get moving and get motivated. Go listen to the roar of the ocean and let its vastness open up something in your life. Hike the cool forest paths that abound in our state and connect with the power and promise of nature. Bike the greenway, grow vegetables, or show up at the Saturday Farmer’s Market. Get out there and grab the amazing things that are waiting for you.

Get in your car, crank up the a/c and go discover an exciting adventure.

Grab a cold glass of iced tea and connect with the natural beauty surrounding you.

But most of all please do something different, something stimulating, and something inspiring. Allow the heat of summer act as an agent of change in your life.

And please don’t forget to let me know how it goes. You can email me at donna@donnaburick.com, call me at 336-540-0088, or leave a comment below.

Happy Summer!

 

 

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