About Dan Teck

Dan Teck is the author of the blog, Halfway up the Mountain, and the ecourse, The Magic Formula. He is happily married to his best friend and soul mate, Jodi Chapman, author of the inspirational blog, Soul Speak (jodichapman.com) and the upcoming book, Coming Back to Life. They live in Southern Oregon with their four fuzzy kids.

How Do You Solve the South Pole?

penguinsAs ludicrous as it might sound, what if your friend told you that they wanted to “solve” the South Pole? (And no, they weren’t talking about global warming — and no, they’re not a penguin.) Imagine the ridiculous conversation you might have:

Friend: I’ve got a big problem: Every year I go to the South Pole, and I always get really cold — even if I bundle up in the warmest clothes I have.

You: Well, then just don’t go there!

Friend: But that doesn’t solve the problem! That’s just avoidance!

You: Exactly! I think that you should avoid going to the South Pole! Maybe instead, you could go somewhere warmer, like a tropical beach.

Friend: But I always go to the South Pole. That’s my yearly tradition, and I intend to keep going!

You: Then you’re going to be cold.

Friend: But I don’t want to be! I already told you — that’s the problem I want to solve! Don’t you understand?

You: I guess not.

And, fortunately, neither do I.

I don’t understand why so many people try to get to the bottom of issues, unravel dilemmas, and solve problems  when they could simply NOT GO THERE!

(In fact, I don’t understand why so many people see so many situations as “problems” to begin with — as opposed to simply “what is” — but that’s a whole other blog post.)

Yes, some problems can be solved: A toothache can often be fixed with a shot of Novocain and perhaps a filling. A true emergency can often be solved by dialing 911. And a remarkably high percentage of non-emergency problems can be solved by typing a few words into Google.

But then there’s a whole other category of perceived “problems” that aren’t necessarily problems at all — they’re just situations that you don’t particularly like. And while some of them can be changed, many of them can’t (such as the weather).

As the Serenity Prayer suggests, you can learn to accept the things you can’t change, but you also have another option: shift your focus. Go somewhere else (somewhere “warmer”)!

The South-Pole scenario is intentionally ludicrous, but it’s often just as nonsensical (and ineffective) to try to change perceived problems when you could simply not go there. After all, as with literal travel, there are so many other (and more enjoyable) places that you could go.

In many cases, perceived problems can’t be “fixed” (because they’re not really problems to begin with), but even if you could fix them, this would often entail spending years in the “South Pole,” so to speak — in other words, it would mean spending your precious time and energy focusing on something that you don’t like.

And when you do this, Law of Attraction brings you even more situations that you don’t like. So not only do you not “fix” anything, but you have a terrible time while you’re trying — and you miss out on all the great places where you’d much rather be spending your time!

As I said earlier, I’m not saying that problems don’t exist or that you shouldn’t try to improve your situation. (There are toothaches and computer viruses in this world!) But before you go trying to make massive changes, ask yourself a few basic questions:

  • Is this really a problem?
  • If so, can it be changed?
  • If so, how can I focus on the solution rather than the problem?
  • And if the external situation can’t be changed, how can I feel better about it? (For instance, most non-Arctic cold can be “fixed” by putting on a coat.)

But before you try to “fix” anything (including yourself), consider that you may not have to — if you simply choose to direct your attention, your action, and your energy onto something positive. Not only will this be a much more fruitful use of your time, but you’ll attract even more positive experiences.

And in the meantime, you’ll enjoy your life!

Have you been mentally “traveling” to problematic areas? If so, would you consider changing your itinerary and spending your time in more appealing places? Remember, while you don’t always have the power to change externals, you can always choose your own focus — and you’ve got a whole world full of positive options to choose from!

Getting out of the Mental Mud

mental_mud

The biggest change in my life over the past few months is that now, unlike before, when I realize I’ve made a wrong turn, I don’t keep driving down that road!

  • I’m not talking about literal wrong turns (although it’s true for those as well).
  • I’m not talking about figurative wrong turns — actions that lead you someplace where you didn’t want to go. (I’ve already written a post about that — and what to do when it happens.)
  • I’m talking about mental “wrong turns” — thought patterns that take you off your intended path…perhaps even into an inner “ditch.”

It’s not a big deal to have unintended thoughts. In fact, sometimes a train of thought can lead you into very interesting terrain, giving birth to ideas or perspectives you’d never considered — many of which may turn out to be breakthroughs, epiphanies, or just pleasant surprises.

Other times, however, you may find yourself habitually turning down inner roads that leave you stuck in the mud, spinning your wheels, and stranded a long way from your intended destination.

Again, it’s not the end of the world to get temporarily stuck now and then. You take a walk, take a nap, call a friend (or a tow truck), shift your focus, and eventually get unstuck — and moving into more pleasant inner territory. And oftentimes, in retrospect you realize that the “wrong turn” ended up being a valuable learning experience.

The problem for me became when I found myself taking the same wrong turns again and again and again. And even after I recognized it (“Oh, here I am heading down this muddy backstreet again — in the opposite direction of where I want to go!”), I’d still keep on heading down the same road — thinking the same old thoughts, spinning my mental wheels, and getting covered with mud!

But recently I realized that I have a choice!

More than just realized it — I began making different mental choices. And although it took a little practice to change some deeply ingrained thought patterns, I now find that I can turn on a dime — and so can anyone! It just takes a few key elements:

  1. Desire (part 1) – If you don’t want to change your thought patterns, you won’t. Simple as that.
  2. Recognition – You start to notice recurring, unhealthy thoughts, just as you might recognize a road you’d accidentally turned onto many times. (“Oh yeah, there’s that abandoned warehouse again — I’m definitely headed the wrong way!”) In other words, recognize a familiar thought that you know is not serving you.
  3. Remembering – From your past excursions, you remember where this mental road leads — and you know that it’s not a place where you care to spend more of your time.
  4. Redirection – Just as you can hit the brakes, turn the steering wheel, and make a U-turn in your car, you can also redirect your thoughts. And, as with driving, it’s helpful to know where you do want to go!
  5. Desire (part 2) – Just as this process starts with the desire to change your thoughts, it ends (or continues) by focusing on your desired thoughts and feelings — aligning your thoughts with your intentions, your dreams, and your soul. In short, you focus on your (very healthy!) desire to feel good!

In my case, I had a few habitual thought-patterns that I found myself stuck in so many times that I could no longer pretend that I was lost. In fact, I knew exactly where I was and exactly where these thoughts would lead: straight into the mental mud!

I also knew that these recurring thoughts were unproductive. I wasn’t “solving” any problems — I was just spinning my wheels in the mud (and driving myself nuts!). And after 1000+ excursions into the same “thought-ditch,” I couldn’t kid myself that I was making any progress.

On top of this, the more I learned about the Law of Attraction (especially the fact that creation begins at the level of thought), the more I realized that I didn’t want to keep manifesting experiences that matched these thoughts!

So, for the past few months, any time I recognized these “muddy roads,” I’d simply mentally change the subject. I’d make a mental U-turn and head down a different road — one that I knew would lead somewhere healthier:

  • I’d focus on gratitude.
  • I’d focus on happy memories.
  • I’d focus on my dreams and positive intentions.
  • I’d focus on anything at all that felt better!

And it worked!

Simple as it may sound, I’ve been able to turn my thoughts around — and turn my life around — largely by hitting the brakes the moment I found myself on a mental “road” I didn’t want to revisit. Before too long, the tendencies to turn down those roads dwindled to almost nothing. And instead, turning toward gratitude and positive thoughts became second-nature.

And thanks to Law of Attraction, I’ve noticed these changed thoughts reflected in my improved external reality. And yes, that is a nice perk, but it’s not really why I made the shift. The real reason is much simpler:

It just feels better!

Do you ever find yourself stuck in unwanted, recurring thought patterns? Would you like to stop heading down those mental roads? If so, the next time you recognize one of those thoughts, simply hit the mental brakes and redirect your thoughts to something that feels better.

It might sound simplistic, but it works! Not only will you feel better in the moment, but your external life will start to reflect these positive new patterns.

Still not convinced? Why not give it a try? The only thing you have to lose is a bit of “mental mud”!

photo by Samo Trebizan

What’s Your Word of the Year? (Here’s Mine)

2015

For the past few years I’ve practiced my own personal New Year’s tradition:

On January 1, I pick a word for the year and write it on my bathroom mirror — where it stays for the next 365 days.

I write the word in bold, blue Sharpie and position it so that whenever I look in the mirror, I see it just above my head (or, if I’m standing with particularly good posture, as if it’s written directly on my forehead).

Each time I see the word, it reinforces its meaning, its power, and its role in my life — so I’m careful to choose a word that I want to embody throughout the year ahead.

In 2013 I picked the word FINISH.

That was a time when I had numerous projects in various stages of incompletion. I wanted to reinforce my commitment to (you guessed it) finish them.

And, for the most part, it worked! I finished several Soulful Journals, ecourses, and other projects I’d been in the midst of.

There was one problem, however: As I focused on finishing, I kept finding myself either looking forward (to the time when a project would be finished) or looking backward (often with relief at having finished a project, but still looking back — which is not exactly the Zen-like, be-here-now approach I’d like to live by).

So I made my word for 2014 HERE.

This word (which graced my bathroom mirror until two weeks ago) reminded me that life isn’t happening in the future or the past, but right here and now. The frequent reminder served as an antidote to a tendency I’ve had most of my life: looking into the future, thinking that my “real life” was waiting just around the corner.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with reflecting on your past or looking eagerly into the future, I didn’t want to miss the ever-present now.

And again, for the most part, the blue-Sharpied word drove home that point — again and again and again — throughout the year.

And that leads me to (once again) here and now.

I find myself in a place where I’d like to integrate the concepts from the last two years — to find a way of looking ahead and moving forward, without rushing past the present.

I want to allow my future to flow into my present — joyously and naturally. I want to appreciate the present without stagnating. I want to make progress and enjoy the process.

So my word of the year for 2015 is…

… (drumroll) …

FLOW!

In addition to everything I mentioned above, this word has significance for me on many levels:

  • It embodies a core metaphor of the Abraham-Hicks teachings: downstream — going with the flow of life rather than fighting against the current.
  • It offers a feeling of progress without strivingallowing rather than forcing; experiencing effortless, natural, and joyous forward motion.
  • It embodies my ideal mode of work/action — getting into the flow of whatever I’m doing and enjoying the state of being “in the zone,” regardless of the action.
  • And it provides a feeling of relief — the sense of “aaahhh.” :)

I’m already enjoying looking at my word every day, knowing that each successive viewing further imprints the meaning, the energy, and the feeling that it embodies. And I look forward to following the flow of this process — allowing it to flow into my conscious, my subconscious, and every aspect of my life.

And I hope (and expect) that a year from now I’ll be able to report that it’s done just that!

What’s YOUR word of the year?

Do you have a one-word theme or motto that you’d like to embody throughout 2015? I would definitely encourage you to pick a word that fits the life you’d like to create, and to reinforce it in any way that feels right to you.

Get creative, have fun, and let the word work its magic on you. You’ll be amazed at how much one little word can change your entire year…and your life!

I’d love to hear your word, how you incorporate it into your life, or any other thoughts you’d like to share about this process. Let the comments flow! :)

 

New Year’s Manifestations (NOT Resolutions!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that you had a wonderful end to 2014 and a happy New Year’s celebration — and that 2015 is already starting off great for you!

So, it’s that time of year again: time to turn over a new calendar page, turn over a new leaf, and make your New Year’s resolutions.

(Or not.)

When you think of New Year’s resolutions, do you think, “Yay!” — or do you think, “Ugh!”. Or do you start off thinking, “Yay!” (in January) and end up thinking “Ugh!” (by February, if not sooner).

If you’ve ever gotten excited about a New Year’s resolution — a plan to join a gym, work out regularly, eat better, or start (and stick to) any other new habit — only to lose steam within a month or so, don’t worry — you’re not alone! This seems to be a near-universal phenomenon.

But why is this? Why do so many noble and worthwhile goals start off from a place of enthusiastic inspiration and end up as onerous (and often neglected) chores?

Because so many resolutions are “upstream”!

That is, they fight the current of your natural tendencies and proclivities. They fight the current of universal laws. Or they’re too much of a stretch, too specific, or simply not fun!

So does this mean that we should just abandon our hopes, dreams, and goals?

Not at all! But I would just recommend an alternative to the typically upstream approach of New Year’s resolutions: NEW YEAR’S MANIFESTATIONS!

What are New Year’s Manifestations — and how are they different from resolutions?

Well, for starters, here’s what New Year’s manifestations are NOT about:

  • They’re NOT about making a long list of resolutions…trying to FORCE yourself to do things you don’t enjoy.
  • They’re NOT about willpower…trying to DENY yourself the things you truly want.
  • They’re NOT about struggle…trying to reach your goals through sheer determination, extreme EFFORT, or superhuman strength.
  • They’re NOT about the no pain, no gain approach to life…struggling toward (alleged) joy with gritted teeth, straining muscles, and bulging veins!
  • And they’re NOT about being miserable in the moment…trying to bring about some FUTURE reward that makes all your present suffering worthwhile.

They ARE about GOING WITH THE FLOW!

They are about feeling good now, feeling good when you reach your goals, and feeling good every step of the way!

But how do you do this? What’s the manifestation process?

You may have already learned about (or used) various approaches to manifestation, but I’d like to offer three of my favorites from the Abraham-Hicks teachings…which you can use for the new year or whenever you’d like! One of them uses three steps, another uses two steps, and the last uses just one!

Three-Step Manifestation

This is an easy one to remember because all three steps start with A: Ask, Answer, Allow. It’s also an easy one to follow, because two out of the three steps happen naturally!

Asking is what you do every time you feel a desire, develop a preference, or literally ask (others or the Universe) for something you want. Most of the time you don’t even have to consciously think about this step!

Answering is the job of the Universe and Law of Attraction. Again, you don’t even have to think about this part. Which means that the only thing you really have to do in this process is…

Allowing…which is actually more of a “not-do” because you pretty much just have to release resistance to not-receiving…perhaps by focusing on that which you desire rather than the undesirable circumstance that you’re trying to change.

In a word: receive!

(Now isn’t that easier than gritting your teeth and sticking to a torturous resolution for the next 365 days? But, as easy as this three-step process might sound — and be – there’s actually an approach that’s even easier!)

Two-Step Manifestation

If three steps sounds like more than you’d like to keep track of (especially when two steps happen automatically/unconsciously), you might prefer this two-step approach:

  1. Feel good.
  2. Notice the good things and experiences that flow into your life.

Yes, it can be as easy as that — no need to worry about the how, when, where, or any other specifics, which can get a bit stressful when you don’t know all the answers. And after all, the specifics are usually just a means to an end: the goal of feeling good!

But believe it or not, there’s another approach to manifestation that’s even simpler…

One-Step Manifestation

This process is so straightforward that it can be summarized in a single word:

Align.

Yes, that’s all there is to it. Align with your Inner Being, your desires, your good feelings, and everything/everyone that augments those good feelings.

You can think of this as becoming a “vibrational match” to your desires, choosing better-feeling thoughts, or simply focusing the majority of your attention on what you want (rather than what you don’t want).

Or, as with the two-step process above, you can simply think of it in terms of feeling good — which, after all, is the goal of any desire, resolution, or manifestation. And while external manifestations can take a while, better feelings are available immediately.

Without waiting 365 days!

Happy Manifesting!

No matter what process you use, I hope that the approach of New Year’s manifestations helps to make 2015 your most joyous, abundant, flowing, and wonderful year yet!

Soulful Life SanctuaryP.S. If you’d like a little support with your resolu… er, manifestations over the coming months, this might be a great time for you to check out the Soulful Life Sanctuary — because we’re just starting our group session of The Magic Formula, a course designed to help you manifest anything you want!

If you’re not already a sanctuary member, you can click here to learn more and try it for free — which gives you full access to The Magic Formula and all other ecourses by me and my wife, Jodi Chapman, as well as Soul Guides (experts in Wellness, Self-Care, Abundance, and other areas), discussion groups, live and archived classes, a book club, and much more.

* * * Click here to learn more and check it out for FREE! * * *
(Absolutely no charge and no obligation!)

I hope to see you there!  :)

Be Like a Kid on Christmas Morning

christmas-kid

Here’s something you can probably imagine, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas or have kids…

Think of a kid on Christmas morning — before they open presents…or even see them.

How do you think they feel? Bored? Excited? Or do they not feel much of anything at all until they actually open their presents?

Most likely, they’re bouncing off the walls with excitement from the minute they wake up! (That is, if they managed to sleep at all!)

They don’t wait until they actually see their presents until they feel excited. They don’t wait until they open them. They don’t wait until they use the presents (play with the toys, listen to the music, put together the puzzle, or enjoy whatever the present happens to be).

They don’t withhold their excitement or joy until Christmas is in full swing or until it’s done or even until it’s started — they feel excited every step of the way!

What a great way to approach Christmas or any other day…or your entire life!

What a great model: Instead of waiting for the full fruition of (literal or figurative) gifts until you feel excitement, satisfaction, or joy, you can enjoy every step of the way — with full faith that the gifts will show up at exactly the right time!

Most kids wouldn’t wake up on Christmas morning feeling skeptical, thinking, “I’ll believe it when I see it” or “I’m not going to feel happy until I’ve got the unwrapped present in my hand” or “There’s no point in getting my hopes up until I actually see the presents; I’ll just be setting myself up for disappointment if Santa didn’t come.”

Sounds silly (and pretty cynical), right? Yet how often do some people (and I’ve fallen into this trap myself on numerous occasions) wait until their hopes or dreams become visible and tangible until they allow themselves to feel the joy of it?

This approach (postponing joy until a gift materializes) has two main drawbacks:

  1. You rob yourself of most of the fun! After all, the external manifestation or completion of a hope, dream, or gift is usually just a momentary blip compared to all the time leading up to it.
  2. You make it less likely that the gift will show up at all! The excitement and enthusiasm you feel before a dream materializes actually helps it materialize!

Whether you attribute this to the Law of Attraction or simply to the additional energy, faith, and positivity that comes from enthusiastic expectation, enjoying each step leading up to a manifestation makes it much more likely to manifest — and much more enjoyable when it does!

And this principle also holds true when GIVING gifts!

Think of a time when you’ve thought of the perfect present for someone (for Christmas, birthdays, or any other occasion). Didn’t you feel excited the moment you got the idea? Couldn’t you just imagine — or feel — how happy and excited the recipient (and YOU) would be when they opened this gift? Didn’t you just feel fantastic — even before they opened (and used) the gift? And couldn’t you feel yourself getting more and more excited as the moment of unveiling approached?

Remember this approach all year round — with all your gifts, creations, and manifestations.

  • Allow yourself to feel excited the moment you think of something you’d like to give, receive, or create — even if you don’t know exactly what the finished product will look like.
  • Enjoy each step of the manifestation process, from inception to growth to completion — rather than waiting until it’s 100% done before you feel joy.
  • Have faith that the externals will show up at the perfect time — and feel confident that the process is already underway, even before you can see any external evidence.

There’s a seemingly magical force behind this approach. And whether you call it faith, positivity, or Santa, the result is the same: you experience the joy of giving, receiving, creating, and manifesting. And you enjoy every step of the process — not just when an unwrapped present is in your hand!

Wishing you a happy holiday season and a new year full of magic and joy!
~ Dan

photo: wckiw

You WILL Find What You’re Looking For

Binoculars(In several posts I’ve been tempted to simply write a sentence or two — or even just leave it blank except for the title. This is probably the closest I’ve come to actually doing this, but I decided that, rather than explain or elaborate, I’d simply offer some examples to reinforce the title’s point…)

  • If you’re looking for reasons to feel good, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons to feel bad, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons why your life is great, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons why your life is terrible, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for friends, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for enemies, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for evidence that proves you right, you’ll find it.
  • If you’re looking for what’s wrong with the world, you’ll find it.
  • If you’re looking for what’s right with the world, you’ll find it.
  • If you’re looking for lies, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for truth, you’ll find it.
  • If you’re looking for beauty, you’ll find it.
  • If you’re looking for joy, you’ll find it.
  • If you’re looking for love, you’ll find it.

You WILL find what you’re looking for!

So, the big question is: What are you looking for?

(Or, perhaps more to the point: What are you looking at?)

SLS-free-trial2P.S. The Soulful Life Sanctuary is now offering a 14-day trial membership absolutely FREE!

My wife (Jodi Chapman) and I created the sanctuary as a place for people to get in touch with their soul and connect with like-minded people. It’s a loving, supportive community, a virtual classroom/retreat center, and a set of tools/resources to help you live your most radiant, authentic, soulful life!

Your free trial membership gives you full access to the entire Soulful Life Sanctuary—including over 35 sacred spaces (led by experts in Spirituality, Wellness, Abundance, Self-Care, Relationships, and other areas), as well as live and archived courses, community forums, a private Facebook group, membership pages, blogs, a shop of soulful products/services, a book club, and so much more.

Please click here to learn more and find out how you can begin your Soulful Life Sanctuary membership for free today!

I hope to see you there!

 

But That’s What Really Happened!

Rewrite Your StoryWhen I started looking into creative-writing programs, I got a book called The Creative Writing MFA Handbook.

It’s a guide for people applying to MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programs, covering everything from choosing the best-fitting school and submitting your application, to making the most of the experience once you get there — especially during the workshops, which are at the heart of most writing programs.

The author’s #1 piece of advice for being workshopped (i.e., having your piece critiqued by fellow students) is: Don’t get defensive!

Aside from not criticizing readers’ feedback (which harbors ill will and stifles honest discussion), he also discourages authors from explaining their work. (As an author, you aren’t generally sitting next to your reader, telling them what you really meant — it’s got to come across in the writing itself!) And most of all, he discourages workshopped authors from defending their work with one of student-authors’ most common (and least relevant) lines of defense:

“BUT THAT’S WHAT REALLY HAPPENED!”

Once I got into workshops, I actually heard this rebuttal fairly often. And more than once, I had to stop myself from voicing this thought regarding my own work — because I realized (thanks largely to the MFA Handbook) that it doesn’t matter one bit! Just because a story is 100% factual doesn’t make it a good story!

This is true for fictionalized accounts of real-life experiences, as well as creative nonfiction. And perhaps most of all (and this is the whole point of writing about this in a personal-growth blog), this is true for the stories we tell in everyday life!

You might repeat an anecdote about an unpleasant encounter you had while shopping. You might spend hours griping about your mean boss. You might spend years rehashing tales of unfair treatment you experienced as a child. And all of these stories might be 100% true, yet none of them are good stories!

(By which I mean they’re not good for YOU.)

In creative writing, a “good” story is one that engages the reader, reveals interesting aspects of life, and embodies artistic beauty/truth. But in everyday life, a good story is one that serves you! Or, to put it another way, it’s a story that not only is true, but that you WANT to be true!

With this in mind, my advice for all of us is:

DON’T REPEAT STORIES THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO BE TRUE!

There is no surer way to reinforce and relive a negative experience than by telling and retelling stories about it — in conversations, online, and even (and perhaps most importantly of all) in your own thoughts.

It’s like every time you tell the story, you increase the volume (or font size) — making it a bigger part of your life…and more likely that you’ll have similar experiences in the future. And if the experience really was that unpleasant the first time, why would you want to relive it — in stories or in your life?

But then what are we supposed to do — lie?

No, you don’t have to fabricate happy endings; nor do you need to ignore (or remain secretive about) the lower points of your daily ups and downs. But you can choose HOW you tell (and think about) the stories of your life.

And here’s where the creative writer’s bag of tricks can serve you well! Just like an author writing a piece of creative nonfiction, you get to choose which details to focus on, how you frame them, and what points you make with them.

For instance, if you’re telling a story about your day at work, you could focus on the many pleasant interactions you had, or you could go on and on about the one person who was rude to you. Yes, that’s what really happened. Yes, the story is true. But it’s not a good story!

But even if you did decide to tell the story about the rude person, you (as the “author”) get to set the tone. You could yell about it, cry about it, or laugh about it. You might even use one of my favorite techniques, “clarity through contrast,” and use that one unpleasant interaction to reinforce your intention to treat others well, your expectation that your positivity will be returned to you, and your confidence that you’re able to keep feeling good no matter how you’re treated!

You might even frame an unpleasant incident as the “before” picture in an uplifting story — by having it inspire you to effect positive changes in your life and to live a more enjoyable story!

The key is this: Each time you tell (or even think of) a story — which can be anything from a lengthy anecdote to a one-line “truism” (or “falsism,” such as “nobody really cares about me” or “everyone’s struggling these days”) — ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I WANT this story to be true?
  • Do I want this story to be true in the way that I’m telling it?
  • And if the answer to either of the two previous questions is “no,” ask: How can I retell this story so that I DO want it to be true?

Or you might decide that the best option is to not tell this story at all!

After all, there are infinite stories that you can tell and live. Why not choose the ones that you actually like?

P.S. If you’d like to start telling new and better-for-you stories, click here to check out my Rewrite Your Story ecourse. It’s available to everyone — and FREE to Soulful Life Sanctuary members!

(If you’re not yet a member, click here to learn more about the sanctuary, which includes Rewrite Your Story and over a dozen other courses and classes, plus a vibrant, supportive community that lets you connect with like-minded souls — and reconnect with yourself! Also, now for the first time ever, month-to-month membership is available for just $19.95/month! Click here for details.)

You can take this course any time you’d like, but we’re going through it as a group in the sanctuary right now (November and December) — including group forums, discussion questions, and an optional live video meeting — allowing us to discuss the course, interact with other students (and with me), and create new, more empowering stories! I hope to see you there! :)

Click here for more information and to sign up.

Photo by Yuri Bizgajmer

Step Right Up! (…or don’t)

carnival

Have you ever been to a carnival where the carnies call out to you from their rides or games: “Step right up! Right this way! Two throws for a dollar!”?

Maybe they’re trying to lure you over to the ring toss or some other game (that probably looks easy but is next to impossible to win). Or maybe they’re trying to coax you into taking a ride on a roller coaster or a Ferris Wheel or the Tunnel of Love or the Haunted House.

Many of the games or rides might appeal to you. You might be very happy that the carnies got your attention and enticed you into riding the Bumper Boats or playing a game of Skeeball (even if you don’t win the giant teddy bear).

Other games or rides might not appeal to you at all — or perhaps they actively repel you. For instance, if you know you that you have motion sickness, there’s no carnie in the world who could convince you to get onto the Tilt-A-Whirl.

But you don’t have to worry, because as you’re walking through the carnival, the only one who gets to decide whether or not to go on a ride or play a game is YOU! No matter how loudly or persuasively the carnies might call out to you, they can’t force you onto a ride you don’t want to go on.

This is the same as the rest of your life: No one can force you into a “game” (or a “ride”) without your consent.

People might catch your attention with their various offers (or suggestions or threats). They might yell or beg or cajole or pressure or plead, but only YOU get to decide what you want to do.

They can hold up all the hoops they want, but they can’t force you to jump through them. They can yell, “Step right up!” — but that doesn’t mean you have to!

This also holds true for your own thoughts!

Most people acknowledge that they don’t have to play along with other people’s games (or “dances” — hence the expression, “It takes two to tango”). And this is good to remember — especially when you’re feeling pressured into something that doesn’t feel right to you.

But it’s even more important — and empowering — to remember that you don’t have to follow your own thoughts!

After all, we each have over 50,000 thoughts per day — roughly one every second or two! Most of them merely flit through our minds momentarily, without us following the train of thought for very long (or at all) — like clouds that float briefly into and then back out of our peripheral vision, without us turning to follow them.

Thank goodness we DON’T follow every thought!

Can you imagine being pulled in a new direction every second or two? It would be like jumping onto every single ride at the carnival, just because a carnie called out to you about it!

Of course, just like the rides, there are many thoughts that we DO want to follow — flashes of inspiration, pleasing memories, or any subject that makes us feel good to think about. So we can choose to pay attention to these thoughts, explore them further, and enjoy the mental-emotional ride they take us on!

But there are many other thoughts that we DON’T want to follow up on — because, just like unpleasant carnival rides, we know how they make us feel.

If you’ve been on the Tilt-A-Whirl many times before — and every time you feel sick to your stomach (while you’re on it and perhaps for a long time afterwards) — you might want to consider not getting on that ride again. You’ve been there, and you know it’s just not worth going back.

But just because a carnie beckons (or pressures you or offers you a free ride) doesn’t mean you have to get on the ride!

A carnie’s call or a passing thought can’t hurt you…unless you follow it!

You don’t have to fear a carnie’s call from a ride you dislike. You don’t have to run over to them and yell, “Cancel! Cancel!” — or explain why you don’t like the ride or try to get the carnival management to shut down the ride altogether. (After all, it might be someone else’s favorite!)

You just have to NOT get on the ride!

Likewise, you don’t have to worry about a fleeting negative thought. Sure, if you follow it, you might end up feeling like you’ve taken a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl: spinning round and round, going nowhere, and ending up feeling sick to your stomach — and maybe even kicking yourself afterwards for falling into the same old predictable thought-pattern.

But you have another choice: You can learn from your past experience what thoughts do and don’t feel good to “ride.” And when you notice one that doesn’t feel good, you can simply walk on by — just like you’d walk past a carnie calling out about a ride you don’t like.

And eventually you’ll find a ride or a game or a thought that you DO want to pursue. And then you can consciously choose to follow that call — and ride the Ferris Wheel or the Tunnel of Love or any other ride/thought that appeals to you.

Remember: You choose what to follow!

Just like the carnival, you can’t choose what rides or games are there. You can’t choose which carnies you hear calling out to you. You can’t choose every thought that drifts through your mind. But you CAN choose which ones to follow — to “get on board” with and give your sustained attention to.

And that is your greatest source of strength, power, and freedom — the freedom to choose what you focus on, what activities you pursue, and which thoughts you follow (or don’t). That’s what makes your life your own. That’s what makes you YOU!

And that’s what can make your life as joyful as a day at the carnival.

If your thoughts were carnies calling out to you, which ones would you want to follow? Which thoughts would you want to “ride” — and which ones would you rather walk on past…and move on to something more appealing?

Don’t Listen to Me

not_listening

I love the personal-growth community.

I love the millions of people who share their hearts and their wisdom in books, blogs, courses, workshops, and all sorts of ways — online, in print, and in person.

I’ve gained life-changing inspiration and insight from a wide variety of teachers, writers, mentors, coaches, and friends. I’ve been moved, touched, and motivated. And I’ve gotten lots of really good advice.

So now I’d like to share my own heartfelt advice regarding all of the wonderful personal-growth/spirituality teachers out there:

DON’T LISTEN TO ANY OF THEM!

(Not even me.)

Does this mean that I don’t think they have wisdom? Not at all! I’m continually impressed by the wise and brilliant thinkers who eloquently share their gifts with the world.

Does this mean that I don’t think they’re sincere? Not at all! While there may be an occasional scam artist thrown into the mix, I believe that the VAST majority of personal-growth writers and teachers (and all people, for that matter) are coming from a place of goodness, authenticity, and a sincere desire to serve others.

Does this mean that I don’t think they’re actually helpful? Again, no. I’ve been personally helped by many people in this field, and I’ve heard about (and/or witnessed first-hand) numerous others who have benefited tremendously through self-help books and programs.

So why don’t I think you should listen to personal-growth writers (including myself)? Or, more to the point, what do I recommend that you do instead? What or whom should you listen to? (Even if you’ve heard this countless times already, it bears repeating):

Listen to your own inner voice.

You have SO much wisdom inside of you — such tremendous potential for insight, problem solving, creative thinking, and personal growth. You’re a veritable fountain of inspiration. You’re an absolute genius!

So, because you’re already so wise, am I recommending that you never read another self-help book (or blog), ignore all personal-growth teachers, and shut yourself off from external influence?

Quite the opposite! In fact, I highly recommend that you expose yourself to a wide variety of thinkers, approaches, techniques, and paths. Soak up the wisdom of the world! Get all the good advice you can. And ignore all of it…except what resonates with you!

Because that is the best of both worlds:

  • You benefit from the great thinkers of the world, but you don’t let them do your thinking for you!
  • You trust your inner voice/guidance without shutting out potentially helpful ideas from the outside world.
  • You open yourself to new ideas and alternative perspectives while still taking responsibility for your own choices and your own life.

So when you hear a piece of personal-growth advice, the most important question to ask yourself is: Does it resonate? (In fact, you probably won’t even have to ask yourself — you’ll just KNOW.)

When a piece of advice (or any idea, perspective, approach, or attitude) DOES resonate with you — when it glows, has the ring of truth, feels like a vibrational match, or awakens an inner truth (something you feel like you already knew on some level, even if you couldn’t quite put it into words) — take it to heart. Welcome it into your life. Listen to its message for you. Sit with it. Ponder it. Feel it. Follow it. Allow it to ignite a spark of insight, passion, and inspiration.

And if it doesn’t resonate, just let it go.

~

When was the last time you heard an idea, perspective, or piece of advice that really resonated with you? How did you know that it was true or important to you? Did you trust that inner knowing? How did it change you?

You’re Getting Warmer

boy_playing_hide_and_seek

If I’d meant this title literally, I probably should have written it in spring or early summer, rather than waiting until the week before Labor Day. But I was thinking of it figuratively — as a personal-growth metaphor based on the common variation of hide-and-seek. Here’s what gave me this idea…

I recently listened to a recorded talk in which the speaker (Esther Hicks, presenting the Abraham teachings) described our Emotional Guidance System by using this example: You know the game where you’re looking for something, and as you get closer someone says, “You’re getting warmer” (or, “You’re getting colder,” if you get farther away)? Well, in a sense, this is the “game” that we’re ALL playing ALL the time!

As we move closer to (or further from) what we’re seeking (our best life and truest/highest self), we’re constantly getting feedback. No, we don’t generally have someone next to us saying, “You’re getting warmer; you’re getting colder,” but we do have that “voice” within us: in the form of emotions, intuition, or gut instincts.

Simply put, when you do or think something, and you feel better, that’s the voice saying, “You’re getting warmer!” And when a thought or action (or a thought about taking an action) makes you feel worse, the voice is saying, “Getting colder!”

And here’s the beautiful part: Both forms of feedback help you!

If you were searching for a hidden treasure, and someone (who knew where it was) told you, “You’re getting colder,” you wouldn’t get mad at them, would you? You’d probably be grateful for the useful information…and then (and here’s the important part) you’d move in a different direction!

Getting emotional feedback that we’re heading in the “wrong” direction (meaning one that feels bad to us) isn’t a problem. The only problem is when we ignore that feedback.

Or when we listen to it, take it to heart, and agree with it…but then keep going in the same direction anyway (and wonder why we feel “colder and colder”).

Or when we give higher priority to the outer voices telling us, “Warmer! Colder!” — and go against what we know feels better for us.

Following our Emotional Guidance System has a number of wonderful advantages:

  • ALL inner guidance is helpful. In addition to the reasons given above, “colder” feelings also make it easier to notice the contrast when you do get a “warmer” feeling — giving you even more confidence when you’re heading in a direction that feels good.
  • You don’t have to know the location of your ultimate goal (or “hidden treasure”). You don’t even need directions on how to get there. All you need to do is to take one step (or think one thought) and see if you feel “warmer” or “colder” — and then adjust accordingly.
  • You get to enjoy the game…every step of the way! When you play the actual “warmer/colder” game, finding the hidden object isn’t the sole point of the game. (If it were, then the person who knew its location would simply give it to you!) Half the point is to have fun — to enjoy the process, the search, the “climb” (to use the ongoing “Halfway up the Mountain” metaphor), and the rising excitement you experience from feeling “warmer”!

The warmer/colder process doesn’t mean that you’ll never work hard, make an effort, or exert yourself in any way. And this is fine; it’s often part of the treasure-seeking/finding process. And even if it didn’t lead to your ultimate goal, exertion can be very pleasurable in and of itself (especially when you’re able to find joy in your abilities and talents — your funktionslust).

It does mean, however, that you move away from struggle.

(This is the difference between, for example, the effort of hammering a nail as you create a beautiful piece of furniture, as opposed to hammering — or trying to hammer — a square peg into a round hole!)

You can think of this warmer/colder process as trusting your vibes, tapping into your intuition, listening to your emotions, or following your bliss. But, regardless of how you think of this process, it’s happening — all the time!

As you go about your day (and your life), you’re constantly receiving inner guidance. It happens automatically — requiring absolutely no effort (much less struggle) on your part. All you have to do is listen — and move away from “colder” feelings and toward the “warmer” ones!

Even though this process is perfectly natural, you can still become more conscious of it, nurture it, and have fun with it in lots of ways. For instance, you could interview (or “inner-view”) your Emotional Guidance System, simply by asking how a thought, action, or even a possibility makes you feel.

  • Does this make me feel better or worse?
  • Does this make me feel expanded or constricted?
  • Does this make me feel more or less energy, freedom, and joy?

Chances are, however, you won’t even have to ask — you’ll probably just know! (Or, more accurately, you’ll feel!)

When have you received clear (or subtle) “warmer” or “colder” guidance? Are you getting one of these messages right now about anything in your life? How would it feel if you moved even one little step in a direction that feels “warmer”?

photo by Oleg Mikhaylov