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.

It Hurts When I Do This

injured-teddy-bearImagine that you know someone who has injured their arm. You ask them if it hurts, and they say, “Only when I do THIS…” and proceed to lift their arm as high as they can (wincing in pain as they do so).

What would you say to them? Most likely, “Well then DON’T DO THAT!”

It seems like an obvious solution to a rather silly scenario, but this actually happens fairly often. (In fact, I think I’ve even done it myself — stretching a hurt arm or leg to see how far I could push it until the pain returned.)

In a way, this makes sense: you might want to test an old injury to see if you can go beyond your previous limitations — to push past your old comfort zone. The part that doesn’t make sense, however, is repeating the action when you ALREADY KNOW that it makes you hurt — demonstrating it for others or just repeating it for yourself, reinforcing your knowledge…and your pain!

This doesn’t just hold true for physical injuries. How often do we keep doing the same things, thinking the same thoughts, and putting ourselves into the same situations that have repeatedly caused us pain (in any respect)?

Sometimes we might (nonsensically) expect or wish for different results, but more often than not — just like the person demonstrating their injury by lifting their arm — we know exactly what’s going to happen: it’s going to hurt!

When we catch ourselves in this type of situation, we have a few options:

  • We could complain about the pain — grumbling about it to ourselves or anyone who’ll listen.
  • We could make jokes about it (but still focus on it, talk about it, reinforce it, and re-experience it on a regular basis).
  • We could try to ignore it, tough it out, and stoically push through the pain.
  • Or we could take the same advice we might give to the person repeatedly lifting their injured arm: Don’t do that!

While every situation is different, I generally support this last option: Stop doing what hurts you — physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually!

  • Stop lifting your arm in a way that hurts!
  • Stop thinking that thought that depresses you!
  • Stop hanging out with those people who don’t respect you!
  • Stop telling that self-fulfilling story of why you’ll never succeed!
  • Stop thinking, saying, and doing the things that hold you back, keep you down, dampen your spirit, crush your soul, or hurt you in any other way!

While this might sound like a negative approach to healing, it’s actually based on the incredibly positive premise that, at our core, people are naturally healthy and joyful. It’s also based on the fundamental truth that the human body and spirit are incredibly resilient!

In many areas of life, the healing process is natural and spontaneous — and generally requires little or no effort on our part! This means that, more often than not, we can heal simply by NOT repeatedly thinking, saying, and doing the things that hurt us. When we stop picking a scab (literally or figuratively), it will heal on its own. When we stop focusing on the things that make us feel bad, we start to feel better!

No, the results aren’t generally instantaneous. A scab won’t disappear right before your eyes, in a matter of seconds. A broken arm won’t be as good as new after a few minutes of not lifting it. And a cloud of chronic depression, anger, or low self-esteem isn’t likely to lift all at once. But the healing process can begin right away — starting from the moment you stop demonstrating and reinforcing your pain.

And how do you know that the process is working? You start to feel better!

Have you ever kept thinking, saying, or doing things that consistently hurt you? Have you stopped? If so, have you started to feel better? Or, if you’re still doing something that hurts, would you be willing to stop? After all, you’ve got nothing to lose…except the pain!

Dream Small

dream-smallDream Big!

You’ve probably seen or heard this advice many times — from friends, colleagues, social-media posts, and personal-growth blogs: Dream big! Dream bigger!

And yes, oftentimes, this is great advice! After all, you want a dream that’s big enough to inspire you, to get your blood pumping, or at least to get you out of bed in the morning! And if you have a minuscule dream — for instance, to chew a piece of gum — that’s probably not exactly going to fill you with buoyant enthusiasm and zest for life. So, in this case, I would agree with the multitudes urging you to dream bigger!

But what if you’re on the other end of the dream-size spectrum? For instance, what if your dream is to earn $10 billion today?! Or to personally shake the hand of every living person this month? Or to walk on Pluto barefoot?!

In these cases, maybe dreaming bigger isn’t the best advice. For these dreamers, a better piece of advice might be: Dream smaller!

Yes, these are intentionally silly examples — ridiculously big and far-fetched. But many people have dreams that seem almost as far-fetched — not because they can’t be reached, but because on some level (perhaps not even consciously) the dreamer doesn’t truly believe that they can reach them.

And that really is the key to reaching and living your dreams: BELIEF!

Belief varies greatly from one person to another. The same dream might seem too big for one person to believe, but too small to inspire another.

For instance, one person might not believe that they could earn six figures, while another person might not find that dream big enough to inspire them…unless they add a figure or two! One person might not believe that they could write a book, while another wouldn’t be inspired by this dream…unless they also set a goal to make it a #1 bestseller. One person might not believe that they could reach their ideal weight, while another one sees this health goal as uninspiring…unless they also decide to run a marathon.

None of these dreams are “right” or “wrong.” Dreams don’t come “one size fits all.” It’s about finding a dream that you find both inspiring and believable.

Sweet-Spot Dreams

Some dreams are so big that they seem impossible, some are so small that they hardly seem worth it, and others are “just right” (as Goldilocks might say) — big enough to stretch you to live more fully, but not so big that you don’t actually expect to realize/live it.

So, when setting your dreams and goals, find that “sweet spot” between uninspiringly small and unrealistically big. Sometimes this will mean enlarging your dream — to make it more inspiring, to stretch you out of your comfort zone and closer to your full potential. Oftentimes, however, it may mean scaling back (at least temporarily) so that you can actually believe and achieve your dream.

Let’s revisit our intentionally silly/enormous dreams from above. Maybe these dreams could be revised to make them more realistic, believable, and achievable: Perhaps the $10 billion dream could turn into a goal of increasing their income by 50% (or 100% or 200%) in the next 3-6 months. The hand-shaker could set a dream/goal of meeting at least one new person each day for a month (or beyond). And the Pluto trip might be replaced by a dream of visiting all seven continents (and/or other exotic locations).

Building on Smaller Dreams

One final point to remember about dream sizes is that they don’t have to be permanent! You can always start with a “sweet-spot” dream — one that stretches you yet still seems believable — and then, once you’re living it, make it even bigger!

I once heard Ted Turner bemoaning the fact that his father had set a too-small dream: to become a millionaire. Once his father reached this dream, according to Ted, he lost the zest that big dreams can inspire.

I couldn’t help thinking that, with all due respect to the senior Mr. Turner, he must have lacked imagination. Why, after reaching his initial goal, couldn’t he have built upon it? Why couldn’t he have decided to set a dream to earn $10 million? Or, like his son, why couldn’t he have set dreams about how to use that money in interesting ways? Or why couldn’t he have used the security that the wealth provided to dream new dreams in areas that went well beyond business or finances?

After all, you’re not allowed only one dream per lifetime! And your dream is not set in stone — you can build on it, revise it, scale it back, or enlarge it whenever you’d like!

A small, modest-sized, or even fairly large dream does not mean that you won’t be able to dream bigger and bigger as time goes on. What it does mean is that you won’t discourage yourself by dreaming a dream that seems absurdly unrealistic and unreachable. It means that you’ll get in the habit of reaching your dreams. You’ll expect success. You’ll create a body of evidence that you can and do reach your dreams — which will make it that much more likely that you’ll continue to do so…even as you dream bigger and bigger and bigger!

But you don’t have to start with $10 billion, shaking 7 billion hands, or walking on Pluto. You can start exactly where you are — by considering what you want, what inspires you, what you truly believe, and what vision fills you with passion.

And then you can experience the joy of moving toward this dream…and living it!

Is your dream big enough to inspire you but small enough to believe in it? How could you expand your dream to make it more inspiring (but still believable) or scale it back (at least for now) to make it more believable? Or, if it’s already in that “just-right” zone, how can you keep moving toward it and living this dream?

bring your dreams set

P.S. If you’d like to find and live your “sweet-spot” dreams, check out our brand-new journal set: Bring Your Dreams to Life. To celebrate its launch, the set is HALF OFF all month!

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[Photo by lindrik / 123RF Stock Photo]

Life Lesson from Steven Wright

steven-wright-headshotThere’s an old joke by Steven Wright: “Somebody stole everything in my apartment and replaced it with an exact replica.”

I always loved the surreal humor of this one-liner (and dozens of others from Wright’s seemingly endless supply, made all the better by his deadpan delivery). Recently, though, I got to thinking that this bizarre hypothetical scenario might contain an important life lesson.

As strange as it may seem, many things in our lives are repeatedly replaced with “replicas” — relationships, possessions, and situations in all areas of life:

  • You get out of one relationship only to have it replaced by another with the same dynamic.
  • You work your way out of debt, only to find yourself struggling financially once again six months later.
  • You leave a job to escape an unpleasant boss, only to find that your next boss treats you the same way!
  • You find yourself having the same conversations, thinking the same thoughts, and feeling the same way…day after day after day.

No, the specific details aren’t always the same, but your experience often is!

Why does this keep happening? Why do you so often find that the (supposedly) “new” stuff in your life is practically a replica of the old?

To answer this question, let’s look again at Wright’s joke — this time, putting ourselves in the role of the thief (or perhaps “prankster” would be a kinder and more accurate word). This isn’t a way to put ourselves down — it’s a way to empower ourselves by seeing the truth of this situation: WE are the ones who replace the things in our own lives. And, more often than not, we replace them with near-identical replicas.

The reason why this happens is simple: We create our own reality — through our words and actions and, most of all, through our thoughts. So if we keep saying the same things, doing the same things, and thinking the same things, we’re going to keep getting the same results. We’re going to keep replacing everything in our lives with replicas.

If you’re happy with the way things are, by all means, keep up whatever you’re doing (and saying and thinking)! But if you’d prefer something else, then here’s some good news: It’s just as easy to get something different!

(Well, almost as easy — it does take a bit of conscious effort to form a new habit, but you can certainly do it!)

After all, that “prankster” breaks into your house/life every single night and replaces every single thing in your life! And once you realize that this prankster is YOU (or your mind), you can decide to replace things with upgrades!

If you don’t want to replace your old, negative relationship patterns with replicas, think different thoughts about the relationship (and the other person). Say different words — to them and to yourself. And expect different outcomes.

(The same goes for health, finances, work, or any other area of your life — it ALL gets replaced by that prankster!)

All of these changes start with a decision that you’d like some new “stuff” in your life.

If this prankster is going to regularly replace everything anyway (and it is!), you may as well ask it for things that you prefer. Tell it that if it’s going to steal and replace your couch anyway, you’d like a replacement that’s a bit more comfortable than what you’ve currently got. And, while it’s replacing things, how about more harmonious relationships, a greater flow of abundance, and more joy in all areas of your life.

If Steven Wright is getting “robbed” anyway, he may as well get some nice, new furniture out of the deal! And if you are going to create (and re-create) your life experience every single day, you may as well get your heart’s desires!

(PS: Wright’s joke also has a great topper: when he tells his roommate what happens, his roommate asks him, “Do I know you?”)

PPS (unrelated to the Wright joke, but fairly time sensitive): Have you signed up to contribute to our upcoming book, 365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul? Over 300 spots are already filled, so if you’re interested in being part of this collaborative project, sign up while space is still available!

The book is going to have one tip per day of the year, each submitted by soulful contributors — including bestselling authors Arielle Ford, Peggy McColl, and Christy Whitman. I know that the reach is going to be amazing when we spread the word about it when it comes out this November. Plus, there’s an affiliate program, so you can make some money by helping us spread the word!

I hope you’ll join us in this wonderful collaboration — a great way to share your message, expand your audience, and inspire thousands…as a published author! Click here to learn all about it and sign up!

Seeing Yourself Through the Eyes of Love

dove-real-beauty-sketches

The Lie of Self-Criticism…and the Truth of Self-Love

Have you ever seen the Dove Soap commercials where a police artist sketches women based on verbal descriptions?

The artist (who doesn’t see the women) makes two sets of drawings: the first set is based on each woman describing herself; the second set is based on other women’s descriptions of them. The differences are staggering: The drawings based on others’ descriptions show beautiful women, while the drawings based on self-descriptions are ugly—almost deformed—with every so-called flaw grotesquely magnified.

This experiment illustrates (quite literally!) the extent to which many people suffer from poor self-image—an issue that can affect their confidence, their choice of career and mates, their happiness and emotional well-being (or lack thereof), and nearly every aspect of their lives.

More Than Skin Deep

These pictures merely touch upon the surface of this issue (again, quite literally). The aspects of self-perception that can’t be drawn run much deeper. How many people are walking around thinking that they’re ugly on the inside—that they’re stupid or hopelessly untalented or just plain bad?

It’s detrimental enough to think that you’re not good looking, but what if you think you’re not a good person—can you imagine the implications of that? Can you imagine thinking that there’s not merely something wrong with your eyes or your nose, but something wrong with you—with who you are as a human being?

The implications become even more disheartening when you consider that self-perception is generally a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that you’re ugly (on the inside or outside), stupid, bad, or worthless—that you’re somehow “less than”—your experiences will reflect these beliefs. You’ll settle for less, because it’s what you think you’re worth. You’ll tolerate treatment that’s a far cry from the love you deserve. You’ll deprive the world—and yourself—of the beautiful gifts you might have shared…if only you’d had the self-esteem to believe in your inherent value, goodness, and beauty.

Poor self-image definitely doesn’t serve you or the world at large. It doesn’t allow you to reach your full potential, to let your radiant self shine, and to feel good. But that’s only half the problem with it. The more immediately striking part about poor self-image—the part that’s so clearly shown by the Dove commercial’s pictures—is this:

It’s simply not accurate!

The women’s self-critical perception is enormously skewed. It’s not the truth of who they are.  It’s not even close.

It’s a lie!

The picture of yourself as ugly (in any sense) isn’t an accurate reflection of who you truly are. It simply doesn’t stand up to the light of a reality check. The truth of who you are is NOT the image presented when you see yourself through a lens of self-criticism. The truth of who you are is the person seen through the eyes of Love.

Seen through the eyes of Love, you are beautiful—inside and out!

This isn’t just esteem-boosting positive thinking—this is accurate! It’s not seeing yourself through rose-colored glasses; it’s seeing yourself as you truly are.

This is reality. This is the truth. You ARE beautiful—inside and out!

Think back to the police sketch artist: His job isn’t to create works of art, to show the women (or “suspects”) in the most flattering light, or to boost people’s self-esteem. No, he’s merely trying to create an accurate depiction of someone based on verbal descriptions. And descriptions that focus on perceived flaws don’t lead to accurate sketches—they lead to distorted pictures that bear little or no resemblance to the actual people.

Because these self-critical perceptions simply aren’t true.

So, on top of all the benefits of a loving self-perception, perhaps the biggest reason to see yourself through the eyes of Love is because they see you for who you truly are: beautiful, good, and infinitely worthy of love.

P.S. If you’d like to practice seeing yourself through the eyes of Love, check out my new ecourse, Celebrating You! It’s a self-paced course, and if you’re in Soulful Life Sanctuary (where it’s FREE to all members!) you can discuss it with me and other members.

The course includes 4 weekly workbooks, 8 videos, 2 audio meditations, 3 bonus articles, and dozens of uplifting games—all designed to help you see yourself as the beautiful, worthy, and loving person you truly are!

Click here to learn more about Celebrating You.

Click here to learn more about the Soulful Life Sanctuary — where you’ll have access to Celebrating You, all my other courses, and lots more!

Hope to see you at your party! :)

Smoke ’em if ya got ’em!

smoke em if ya got em

When my dad was in basic training for the army, every time they’d take a break, someone would yell out: Smoke ’em if ya got ’em!

(This was in the early 1950s, when it was assumed that the only reason someone wouldn’t smoke during a short break was because they’d run out of cigarettes!)

At the end of the 15 minutes (or however long the break lasted), it was back to basic training. The window of opportunity for cigarettes was officially closed, whether or not you’d smoked.

Although I’ve never been a smoker and definitely don’t encourage the habit, this line does make a great metaphor for other areas of life. I see it as a reminder to use the talents, skills, and opportunities available to you while you have the chance.

(By the way, if you’re put off by a military/smoking metaphor, you can think of this in terms of a business that allots its departments a “use-it-or-lose-it” budget — money that has to be spent before the end of the year, otherwise it won’t be accessible at all.)

Whatever metaphor you choose to think about, this principle can apply to many situations in life.

For instance, a world-class athlete (or potentially world-class athlete) might have only 10-20 years during which their body is capable of performing at an elite level. (The window is much smaller for some athletes, such as Olympic-caliber gymnasts, who seem to peak in their mid to late teens — and are generally “washed up” by their early to mid 20s.)

But you don’t need to have Olympic aspirations to experience this phenomenon. In everyday life, opportunities often present themselves for a limited time only. For instance:

  • A job offer might be made…but then rescinded (or offered to someone else) if not accepted within a specified time frame.
  • Romantic possibilities might present themselves…only to slip away if not pursued.
  • You might have a flash of inspiration (such as an idea for a book, movie, business, invention, or other creative project)…but never follow through on it.

To summarize the lesson here in a five-word cliché: Strike while the iron’s hot! (Or, as Steve Winwood sang, “While you see a chance, take it.”) Because if you don’t, oftentimes that chance will disappear, the parade will pass you by, the window will close, the iron will cool off.

(How’s that for a parade of depressing clichés?!)

You might experience this as the waning of enthusiasm. Perhaps an idea that you were once passionate about no longer excites you — or at least not enough to actually follow through on it. You might find that you’ve moved on, you’re in a different place in your life, or you’ve lost the thread of a long-neglected idea.

Sometimes the proverbial window closes permanently, but sometimes it doesn’t! Sometimes you still could follow through on an opportunity or inspiration, but for one reason or another (or for no good reason at all), you just don’t. And that, I feel, is the even bigger tragedy.

This is where exciting possibilities enter the realm of the “would-bes”:

  • Would-be books that never make it past the notes-and-ideas stage.
  • Would-be services and contributions that never make it out into the world.
  • Would-be creative expressions that never get expressed.
  • Would-be realities that never get realized.

The good news, however, is that many cooled-off sparks can be reignited. Sometimes, giving an old idea or project your renewed attention can rekindle your enthusiasm for it. You might even find that the time away has given you a valuable perspective, new inspiration, or increased determination not to let the possibility languish any longer.

Other times, however, you might find that certain windows shut permanently:

  • Someone else gets the same idea…and actually follows through on it.
  • Changes in technology (or fashions or the general zeitgeist) render your once-cutting-edge idea passé.
  • That wonderful person you had a first date with (but, for no good reason, never contacted again) has the audacity to go off and marry someone else.

But even these seemingly wasted chances can help you in the long run. If nothing else, they serve as reminders to pursue inspiring opportunities that present themselves in the future. And rest assured, they will present themselves! You will get new ideas, offers, and opportunities.

And this time around, you’ll be ready for them! You’ll pursue your passions. You’ll follow up on those leads. You’ll act on those flashes of inspiration.

You’ll remember that while some opportunities are always available, others aren’t — which makes it that much more important that you pursue them while you still can.

Or, as they used to say during my dad’s army breaks, Smoke ’em if ya got ’em!

Have you ever had the window shut on an opportunity that you didn’t follow through on…but wish you had? Is there any chance of rekindling that spark now? If not, what new opportunities ARE present in your life right now — and how will you act upon them?

 

Your Biggest Addiction

smokingUnless I know you fairly well, I don’t know what addictions you do or don’t have. I don’t know if you smoke, drink to excess, gamble compulsively, binge eat junk food, or bite your nails.

I also don’t know if you have any positive addictions (or, if that feels too much like an oxymoron, we can just call them good habits). You might meditate every day, exercise, drink green smoothies, or do anything else on a regular basis that helps you feel better — and that, if you were to stop suddenly, would make you go through withdrawal (or at least feel kind of off).

Because I’m not psychic and I don’t have a hidden camera in your house, I simply don’t know your addictions…except for one:

YOUR THOUGHTS!

I know that you have addictive thought patterns!

I may not have access to the specific ones that come up again and again (compulsively and unbidden) for you, but I have a feeling that some of them revolve around feeling mad, sad, or scared.

  • Maybe your mind habitually gripes (about the government, your boss, your job, your relationship, your lack of a relationship, or whoever/whatever happens to be around).
  • Maybe your mind habitually turns to depressing situations (or melancholy memories, tragedies beyond your control, or anything else that brings you down or exacerbates your pre-existing sadness).
  • Maybe your mind habitually worries (about money, your family, or hypothetical worst-case scenarios).

Whether your habitual thoughts are anything like those mentioned above or completely different, they’ve probably become so common for you that you barely notice them. You might not think of these mental habits as addictions, but they are!

Recurring thought patterns are every bit as addictive as smoking or other addictive actions. And, like many addictions, you might engage in these thoughts compulsively, hardly realizing that you’re doing it. And, also like many other addictions, you might keep on doing it even if it brings you no joy, satisfaction, or fulfillment — because that’s just what you do (or think).

The Good News and the Bad News

I’ll start with the bad news (which, don’t worry, isn’t really bad news — it just sounds like it): You will always have thought-addictions.

That’s just part of being human and having a brain. You have thoughts every waking moment (except perhaps during moments of deep meditation), and most of them are habitual.

But here’s the good news: The fact that the human mind seems to be addictive, by its very nature, can work to your advantage! Just like you can get addicted to healthy behaviors, you can get addicted to healthy thoughts! Here’s how:

4 Steps to Healthy Thought-Addictions

  1. Awareness. If you don’t notice your chronic thoughts, there’s little hope of changing them.
  2. Ask: Is this thought serving me? (In other words: Does this thought make me feel better or worse?) Maybe you have uplifting thought-addictions that you don’t want to stop — in which case, don’t! But if a habitual thought makes you feel worse, you’ll probably want to move to step 3…
  3. Don’t Eliminate…REDIRECT! Trying to stop an addictive thought is about as easy as stopping a speeding truck without brakes from rolling down a hill! You can’t often stop your mind in its tracks, but you can redirect it to a different “road” — much like a brakeless truck might be steered into the “runaway truck” lane.
  4. Be selfish enough to feel good! Place a high value on feeling good — and remember that feeling good (or bad, sad, mad, glad, or anything else) begins with your thoughts. Know that you are worth having a happy, healthy head!

Like any addiction, your addictive thoughts serve a purpose — most likely, providing some sort of comfort for you (if nothing else, through their familiarity). And as with many other addictions, you may even get a rush from replaying your mental scripts — much like you might get a sugar high from binge-eating junk food.

But just like all that junk food, negative thoughts aren’t nourishing you — and they’re keeping you from more nourishing fare. (To take this metaphor into somewhat disgusting territory: you can literally make yourself sick by binging on negative thoughts, regurgitating the same things over and over.)

Also, please don’t judge yourself! Having negative addictive thoughts doesn’t make you a bad person — any more than having the flu (or a drinking problem) does. It just means that you don’t feel as good as you’d like to. And, like any form of recovery, the process takes time, so be easy on yourself, congratulate yourself for the positive steps you are taking, and know that your goal is a worthy one!

Ultimately, this process is between you and you.

When a sickness or an addiction is external, it’s easy to spot — and to point out the benefits of recovery. Addictive thoughts, on the other hand, are less visible (although others can see the results of them), so it’s really up to you to decide whether or not you want to keep or change the thoughts that keep swirling around your head on a daily basis. And that decision really comes down to this one simple question:

Do you want to feel better?

What are some of your thought-addictions? Do you find yourself replaying the same old worries, gripes, or dead-end inner dialogues? If you could replace some of your habitual thoughts with others, what self-nourishing thoughts would you prefer?

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!  :)