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.

And for my next act…

365 Life ShiftsYesterday, Jodi and I (along with over 250 contributing authors) launched our new book, 365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments That Changed Everything. I am so grateful to everyone who contributed to this collection (the third volume of the 365 Book Series), the hundreds of people who promoted it (which helped it become an instant #1 bestseller on Amazon), and the thousands of people who will read it and open their hearts to these true stories of transformation.

As I reflect on this project, I realize that it came about at a perfect time for me, although it didn’t always feel this way. In fact, for much of the process, it felt like the absolute worst timing imaginable. The bulk of the editing needed to be done in October, November, and December — when my mind was largely preoccupied with the U.S. elections. And the final proofs had to be reviewed in late January and early February, when my mind was largely preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. elections (as it still is).

Frankly, I found it rather hard to focus on the niceties of grammar and punctuation when there were so many pressing issues throughout the country and around the world. In the grand scheme of things, did it really matter whether I used a comma or a semicolon when there were Syrian refugees being turned away from our shores and legal U.S. residents being separated from their families despite valid Green Cards or work visas? When the EPA and National Parks were being threatened, park employees’ voices censored, endangered species threatened, and animal-rights abuses being covered up by the government? When we faced environmental disasters and nuclear threats? When civil rights were being trampled upon and LGBT rights were being ignored? When Muslims were being…well, you’re no doubt aware of the quickly growing list of grievances.

So, what does all this have to do with Life Shifts? A LOT!

Although I’m not sure what exactly…yet. I just know that I’m ready for a life shift. A big one. And reading these 365 true stories has reaffirmed that, yes, big life shifts can and do happen. These stories also offer reminders that positive shifts can emerge from the most unpleasant (or even tragic) circumstances, such as those who made positive shifts as a result of injury, illness, or loss of loved ones. Reading them, I’m reminded that shifts sometimes take many years to manifest, but they can also take place in a single moment — often with the decision to make a change.

And that’s where I am right now — deciding to make a change, even though I don’t know what it will be. I’m not at the end but at the turning point in my own story. I feel a shift brewing, but I don’t yet know the specifics of my “next act.” Perhaps I’ll end up offering my time, money, and/or services to groups that promote the freedoms I cherish, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of choice. Perhaps I’ll make a more concerted effort to express myself and live in a way that better reflects the values I wish to promote in the world around me — to “be the change I wish to see.” Perhaps my life will take a more overtly political focus, or maybe I’ll just be more passionate about creating works of art that I feel are worthwhile, thoughtful, and (hopefully) uplifting and beautiful.

Yes, the uncertainty of this “TBD next act” does feel a bit unsettling, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with allowing myself to sit in the unknown, allowing the gestation process to take place in its own time. And I’m OK not knowing what exactly is going to be “born” from all this — partly because of the reassurance I’ve received from so many others who have found themselves at crossroads, oftentimes facing bleak situations, only to emerge stronger and healthier and happier than ever. Which is exactly what I want for my own story-in-progress…and for yours!

In any case, in light of the big changes I feel brewing within me and already taking place all around me (as well as all the significant changes that so many others have gone through — including the ones described in this book), yes, those punctuation issues do seem rather trivial. But, on the other hand, they’re still important to me. It is important for me to embody, to the best of my ability, the traits that I wish to see more of in the world, including intelligence, attention to detail, and heart-based professionalism.

And if my only way of expressing that, for now, is to use a properly placed semicolon, then so be it.

***

What about you? Have you gone through any major (or minor) shifts in your life? Are you going through one right now? Do you have a good idea of what it’s leading to, or are you still in the thick of it? I’d love to hear YOUR story, too! 🙂

(By the way, in case you were wondering — and I sincerely hope you weren’t — the big comma-vs.-semicolon issue was: Which punctuation mark should we use before a coordinating conjunction when at least one of the independent clauses they join contains an internal comma [especially if the comma is in the sentence’s first clause]? After much back and forth — and consulting numerous, and oftentimes conflicting, style guides — we decided [largely guided by Garner’s Modern English Usage] to use commas except in rare instances in which they could lead to miscues, ambiguities, or other reading difficulties. And you thought I didn’t lead an exciting life — ha!) 🙂

P.S. This is the second day of our month-long blog tour related to this book. If you’d like to read posts by other co-authors, here are the posts that went up yesterday and today, as well as those going up tomorrow:

Feb 21

Feb 22

Feb 23

P.P.S. I also hope you’ll check out the book itself — as well as the 70 bonus gifts you’ll get for FREE if you buy your copy now. You can learn all about the book and the gifts at www.365lifeshifts.com.

365 Life Shifts - Available Now!

The Upside of Anger

the-upside-of-anger-angry-birdI used to think that anger was always bad. Growing up, I got the message that it was an unacceptable emotion. And as a young adult, I thought that it was somehow “unspiritual.” More recently, however, my perspective has changed.

I still don’t think that anger is a fun emotion to feel or a fun “place” to hang out (and I’m extremely wary of those who make it their home), but I’ve come to see that there is an upside of anger.

As I now see it, here are three of anger’s biggest benefits:

1. It allows you to practice self-acceptance and self-awareness. You don’t have to judge yourself for feeling angry, any more than you would judge yourself for feeling hungry or thirsty, hot or cold, or happy or sad. The feeling is simply an indication of where you are in that moment. No, you wouldn’t want to spend most of your time feeling angry (any more than you’d want to spend most of your time feeling hungry, thirsty, or tired). But the anger does provide valuable feedback — much like a car’s low-gas warning or your hand’s pain if you touch a hot stove — which can help you shift to a more positive place. (For instance, acknowledging a negative sensation, such as thirst, can inspire you to take positive action, such as drinking more water — thus helping you feel better in the short term and, in the long term, improving your health and avoiding dehydration.)

2. It might be a step in the right direction! As I’ve learned from Abraham’s “Emotional Scale,” anger is sometimes a step toward love, freedom, and joy! For instance, if you’re feeling depressed, afraid, or powerless, anger can motivate you to get up and do something to empower yourself. Again, you don’t want to spend your whole life in this place, but if you’re “just passing through” from depression to a more hopeful place, anger may be an important way station on your journey!

3. It launches “rockets of desire” toward a better-feeling place. Perhaps the greatest benefit of anger (and another great Abraham-Hicks lesson) is that knowing what you don’t want (whatever’s making you angry) helps you clarify what you do want (something that’s the opposite of, or at least very different from, whatever’s making you angry). And the strong emotional charge that generally accompanies anger can help you manifest a more desirable state…IF (and here’s the key caveat) you shift your focus away from the undesirable cause of the anger and toward something that feels better to focus on!

Let’s consider an extreme example:

Although we all have different triggers that make us angry, let’s look at one near-universal source of anger: Imagine that you’ve just read a history book or watched a film about Hitler and the Nazis. There’s a good chance that you’d be pretty angry! And, in my mind, there’s nothing bad or unspiritual about this anger. (To me, it’s just the opposite — evidence that you have a heart, a brain, and a pulse!)

Perhaps you’re angry at a man whose xenophobic conspiracy theories and racially motivated ideology (based on a twisted notion of national “purity”) resulted in  the attempt to eliminate members of one of the world’s largest religions from his nation, the persecution of homosexuals, and the bullying of his opponents. Perhaps you’re angry at those who put this man into power through a free election — giving him control of the nation and its military (thus allowing him to become a ruthless tyrant rather than remaining a schoolyard bully or a street-corner crackpot). Or perhaps you’re angry at the millions of people with misgivings who, nonetheless, appeased him or normalized his bizarre behavior and blatant lies, docilely allowing them to spread and grow into the deadliest conflict in human history.

Your anger here would be perfectly understandable, natural, and perhaps even healthy.

But, again, this anger is not a place where you want to spend a significant amount of time. Life is too precious to spend most of it feeling angry (or any other negative emotion).

So what do you DO with that anger?

Let’s run this example through the three “upsides of anger” mentioned above. (While I don’t want to dwell on something negative, it might be helpful to see these principles in action — and, hey, if we can do it for something this extreme, we can do it for anything!)

First of all, acknowledge and accept your anger. Don’t judge it as bad, wrong, or unspiritual. Just notice it and take in the message it’s giving you (in this case, that Nazis, xenophobes, homophobes, and anti-Semites don’t make you feel good).

Secondly, if you’d previously been feeling depressed or powerless, realize that your anger may be a sign that you’re heading in a positive direction. Or, if you had been feeling better, noticing the dip into anger can help you avoid slipping into even more negative states (such as despair — which could easily happen when contemplating something as extreme as our current example). The anger might be the trigger that makes you say, “Enough! NEVER AGAIN!”…and then do something about that thought!

And thirdly, you can follow the “rockets of desire” launched by the anger — in other words, shift your focus toward desirable states or conditions in the opposite direction from the anger. In this example, thinking of a violent, xenophobic bully might make you think how nice it would be if the world were filled with (or at least led by) those who embraced other nationalities, races, and religions with open-minded intelligence, peace, and love…and then take inspired action to move toward manifesting this highly preferable reality!

Above all, be gentle with yourself.

If you’re feeling angry (today or any other day, for any reason) don’t beat yourself up for feeling what you’re feeling (any more than you’d beat yourself up for feeling thirsty or tired). And don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to shift instantly from anger to peace, love, and joy! It might take some time for the anger to run its course; and even when it does begin to ease up, you might initially only have access to slightly-less-negative emotions, such as worry or frustration.

But know that you won’t stay in a negative place forever. And know that allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling can have tremendous benefits in the long run. You can use your emotions as “rocket fuel” — leading you to take inspired action. And when you’re ready, you can ride those rockets toward a life where peace, joy, and love are the norm, and a world where goodness abounds.

Hold the Light

For most people, this is one of the most festive times of the year. And, for most of my life, the same has been true for me.

I generally love the holiday season, and last year I had one of the best Christmases of my life, as Jodi and I made our first trip to the beach in our new hometown.

But this year, if I’m being honest, I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit. Between the election, recent world events, and the general tone of public discourse, I’ve often found my recent moods swinging between blah and yuck.

Fortunately, though, I know that I can always turn to nature for wisdom, guidance, and inspiration. And that’s exactly what I’m doing right now on the solstice, the darkest day of the year.

From nature, I draw hope. I find a reason to believe that brighter days are ahead.

If I didn’t know how nature worked, this could be a very depressing time. The days have been getting shorter and shorter. The nights have been getting longer and longer. The world has been getting colder and colder.

It feels like ages since I’ve seen a blooming flower. Or a sunny sky after the workday. Or the beach!

Yes, if I didn’t know how nature worked, this could be a very depressing time indeed.

But I do know how nature works.

I know that the short, cold days won’t last forever. I know that the solstice, the shortest day of the year, is also the turning point. I know that, from this point on, days will get longer and brighter. I know that winter may be just beginning; but, at some point, spring will return.

Things move in cycles. To everything there is a season. This one just happens to be particularly bleak, even by winter’s standards.

But I also know that I don’t want to hold my breath for the next three months (or four years). I don’t want to put my life or my happiness on hold. I don’t want my heart and my soul to hibernate until the world thaws out.

And I know that you don’t want this for yourself either.

So, what do you do when the world around you grows darker, colder, less welcoming? You hold the light within you. You nourish the warmth within your soul. You keep that welcoming space within your heart. You fill your own life with as much light as you can. And you nurture this inner light until the external light returns, strengthens, grows, and once again reflects your inner reality.

And even when you can’t see this reality around you, you maintain faith that it will return — just as it does in nature.

For thousands of years, holidays, festivals, and rituals at this time of year have reminded us of this eternal truth. If you have any special traditions, enjoy them and allow them to help you remember the goodness that awaits us, the goodness that still exists in this moment (even if we can’t always see it). Because sometimes we need reminding. Sometimes we need to nourish that part of us that knows what our senses can’t perceive in this moment.

And that is the part that I want to feed.

Even if you are just entering the dark tunnel and can’t see the light at the other end, just knowing that it’s there can offer some comfort.

So, yes, things may look bleak at the moment, but brighter days are coming. The pendulum will swing back toward compassion, tolerance, and respect — to a place where all cultures and orientations are embraced, where intelligence is valued, where hope is stronger than fear. A place of goodness and love.

In the meantime, keep the faith.

Hold the light.

Be the Change

gandhi-portraitDuring this time of deep personal (and, to a large extent, national and international) grief, I find myself looking for rays of light and glimmers of hope.

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I often draw inspiration from spiritual quotes and the Abraham-Hicks teachings; so now I’m combining these by taking an Abe approach to one of my favorite quotes:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”*
– Mahatma Gandhi

I’ve been thinking about these words in relation to the Abraham teaching of contrast — namely, that when something clearly shows you what you don’t want, it helps you clarify what you do want. For instance, when I look out into the world (or into my heart) and see anger, fear, or hatred — and I notice that these things don’t feel good to me — it’s a reminder that I want the opposite of these things: peace, security, and love.

(And if you’re already pretty clear about what you want, contrasts often increase your inspiration and enthusiasm about moving in this direction — kind of like stepping on the gas when the steering wheel’s already aligned with where you want to go!)

Contemplating the state of the world at the moment has, quite honestly, felt a little depressing to me. And trying to change the world seems absolutely daunting…making me feel even more disempowered, discouraged, and all those other yucky feelings at the bottom of Abraham’s “Emotional Scale” — not where I want to hang out!

On the other hand, thinking about being the change I wish to see in the world feels a lot more doable. If I can’t stop worldwide violence this very moment, I can at least take a step toward inner peace — and that certainly feels a bit better…and a whole lot more empowering! (Just thinking about this, I can feel the knot in my stomach loosen just a little bit.)

I admit, I’m still learning to embrace contrasts — to use them as tools for learning and growth, rather than resisting or pushing against them. For better or worse, though, the past week has provided a lot of opportunity for practice. So, here are just a few of the positive qualities that recent contrasts have helped remind me about — qualities that I am committed to moving toward, embracing, and (ideally) embodying:

  • love
  • peace
  • goodness
  • kindness
  • gentleness
  • compassion
  • tolerance
  • open-mindedness
  • broad-minded, global thinking/forward thinking
  • diversity
  • equality
  • intelligence
  • thoughtfulness
  • clarity
  • truthfulness
  • beauty
  • respect
  • dignity
  • humility
  • …and basic human decency

It’s a process. I haven’t been able to snap my fingers and instantly jump from despair to joy, but I do find that this approach is helping — the idea of focusing on being the change I wish to see. And if I ever have a hard time thinking of what changes I do want, I know that the world will provide me with a steady stream of contrasting experiences to help me get clear!

I hope you’ll see this post as an invitation — now or anytime you feel negative emotions arising from contrasts — to help you get clear about what you do want, to focus more on those things/qualities, and to be that!

Because, now more than ever, that’s what the world needs.

~

* By the way (in the interest of embodying truthfulness, intelligence, and accuracy), the “quote” usually attributed to Gandhi is actually a (somewhat loose) paraphrase — here are his actual words: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

(originally printed in the Indian Opinion 1913; reprinted in Gandhi, M. The Collected Works of M.K. Gandhi; The Publications Division: New Delhi, India, 1960; Volume 13, Chapter 153; p. 241. [Google Scholar] — http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/2/1018/htm, note 31)

I’d love to hear your thoughts/comments — including any positive qualities (inspired by contrasts or anything else) that you’d like to BE.

My Top 7 (Non-Abe) Inspirational Quotes

inspirational-quotes

What’s your favorite inspirational quote? Do you have one (or several) that you find yourself thinking about again and again?

Although I’ve been inspired by countless quotes, there are about a dozen that I regularly reflect on — words that I find myself coming back to again and again for guidance, solace, and inspiration. In my previous post, I shared my seven favorites from the Abraham-Hicks teachings. Now, I’d like to share my seven “non-Abe” favorites, along with some thoughts about them.

You may have already seen some of these (perhaps numerous times) making the rounds on Facebook or elsewhere, while others might be new to you; but, in either case, I hope that you enjoy reading and reflecting on these words as much as I do — and that, like me, you find them to be an ongoing source of inspiration for your own life. 🙂

In no particular order, here are my top 7 (non-Abe) quotes to live by:

1. The Serenity Prayer (“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr)

Although I’m not Christian and have never been in a recovery program, I find myself returning to these simple-yet-powerful words almost daily. It might be for something as mundane as reminding myself not to get bent out of shape over bad weather (or negative news or countless other beyond-my-controllables) and reminding myself that I can change my reaction to the situation (and what I choose to focus on and how I choose to respond to that).

Perhaps my favorite (and most concise) take on this prayer came to me from Lisa Hutchison (in the book 365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul). She says, regarding the prayer’s first line (“…things I cannot change”), “this means other people,” and regarding the prayer’s second line (“…things I can”), “this means me.” Keeping this in mind makes it a whole lot easier “to know the difference”!

2. “The one you feed.” (from the Cherokee legend of the two wolves)

In this story, a man tells his grandson that two wolves are fighting within him. “Which one will win?” the boy asks. The grandfather tells him, “The one you feed.”

I’ve returned to this idea countless times, often summarizing the message with the two words, “focus feeds.” I think of this message when I find myself dwelling on something negative. “No,” I think. “This is not the ‘wolf’ I want to feed!” And then I make a conscious decision to “feed the other wolf” — to give my attention to positive thoughts, things I appreciate, or anything that shifts me in a better-feeling direction.

I also think of this message when I notice myself focusing on something positive — and feeling better and better as I do — and I think, “Yes! This IS the ‘wolf’ I want to feed!” And I keep on feeding it…and keep on feeling better!

3. “Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

This falls into the same general category as another one of my favorites (which certainly could have made this list — or at least gotten an honorable mention): “The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” ~ Frank Herbert

Both of these quotes, to me, have the same underlying message: We can spend so much time striving to reach goals, practice self-improvement, or “figure it all out” that we forget to actually LIVE — to experience the life we have!

Just as Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” others have added, “The unlived life is not worth examining!”

By all means, continue to explore, to question, to learn, and to grow — but remember to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Therein lies the joy in life.

4. Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I find this quote coming to mind more than ever these days, in the age of flippant tweets, snarky blog comments, and other ways to critique others’ performances (often anonymously and not always positively). Yes, it’s easier to hide in the “bleachers” than to get in the “arena” and give life your best shot, but there’s no glory on the sidelines. (In many ways, this echoes the central theme of The Bhagavad Gita. Or, to paraphrase another of my favorite sayings, “No kid ever dreams of growing up to become a critic.”)

To put a modern spin on Roosevelt’s words: Haters, step off!

To put a more positive spin on Roosevelt’s words: Get out there and LIVE!

5. “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.”  ~ Eckhart Tolle

(Or, for a slightly more in-your-face variation: “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the [b.s.] story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” ~ Jordan Belfort)

I admit, I “reverse-engineered” this one. What really comes to my mind frequently is the idea that it’s not so much the facts of our experiences that matter, but the story we tell about them — this is what determines our worldview, our beliefs, and our LIVES. (With this in mind, I went searching for quotes that sum up this idea, as Tolle’s words [and, in more of a motivational context, Belfort’s] seem to do.)

In my last post, I highlighted the Abraham-Hicks teaching question, “Is this belief serving me?” You could also substitute “story” for “belief” and see if your stories about your life and the world are serving you — i.e., leading you toward happiness. And then, if need be, you can “edit” your story to lead you to a happier ending. No, this doesn’t mean lying; it simply means viewing the facts in a way that is most uplifting and helpful to you (and, most likely, to others as well).

(This is the short version of this idea — for 4 weeks’ worth of exploration, engagement, and implementation, you can check out my ecourse, Rewrite Your Story: A Soulful Path to Becoming the Empowered Author of Your Own Life.)

6. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman

(Not sure if there’s anything I can add to this one — that’s how good a quote it is!)

7. “Go back to bed.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

You may have heard Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) tell the story of the first time she spoke directly to God…and got a response! She was sobbing on her bathroom floor at 3:00 a.m. when she first heard what she describes as an omniscient interior voice conveying a critical message to her: “Go back to bed.”

What an anticlimax, right? How banal! Certainly not the spiritual thunderbolt most of us would expect (or want) from a wise, omniscient voice. But it was exactly what she needed to hear in that moment. And it’s exactly what so many of us need to hear much of the time.

Although it might not seem as profound or inspirational as the quotes mentioned above — or as deep and “spiritual” as yoga, meditation, or various mystical practices — taking care of your physical body can have a HUGE impact on every aspect of your life. Yes, this includes a healthy diet and joyful movement, but the first step is to get a good night’s sleep.

The next step is to wake up and LIVE! 🙂

What are some of YOUR favorite inspirational quotes? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the ones above or any others that have inspired you!

 

My Top 7 Abraham-Hicks Teachings

esther-hicksI love surrounding myself with inspiring words. I’ve spent countless hours reading everything from ancient scriptures to blogs and Facebook posts intended to uplift and enlighten.

While I’m glad to have been exposed to a wide range of teachings, I’ve realized that I could probably live a fairly happy, fulfilling life with just a handful of basic premises, teachings, and quotes.

With this in mind, I recently created a personal “best-of” list of about a dozen such teachings, about half of which came from Abraham-Hicks (who coined the phrase Law of Attraction and teach this concept, which has since been popularized in the movie The Secret and elsewhere). So, in fairness to everyone else, I’ve decided to create two separate lists. (I’ll feature the “Everyone Else” list in my next post.)

If this is your introduction to the Law of Attraction or the Teachings of Abraham, don’t worry if not all of it makes sense right away (especially idiosyncratic phrases such as “contrasts launch rockets of desire”) — just take in what resonates and let go of the rest. (Also, if you’re interested, you can learn more about them through their books, YouTube videos, or their website.)

This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive overview, just a snippet of the parts that resonate the most with me (a sort of “Desert-Island Abraham”) — the 7 teachings that, even if I had nothing else, could form the basis of a very satisfying, rich, joyful personal experience.

So, here they are (in semi-logical/flowing order, rather than ranked by importance):

1. “The basis of your life is freedom, the purpose of your life is joy, and the result of your life is expansion.” — First of all, if we didn’t have freedom, the rest of this post (and all teachings) would be irrelevant. If we didn’t have a choice, then there’s nothing we could do to change our lives — we’d be puppets in the hand of Fate. But we do have a choice! Freedom is at the basis of who we are; we are freedom-seeking beings! (And perhaps the greatest freedom is the freedom to decide what we focus on — what we give our attention and energy to. [More on this later.]) But what would be the point of using of freedom of choice if it just made us miserable? Why are we doing all this choosing, focusing, and freedom-seeking? For the joy of it! And what happens as we do this? Our lives expand, WE expand, and the entire universe expands! Forever.

emotional-scale2. The Emotional Guidance System/Scale — So, how do you go about choosing what to focus on and how to bring more joy into your life? You let your emotions guide you. Positive emotions give you feedback that you’re in the process of manifesting something you desire (telling you, in effect: “You’re Getting Warmer!“). Negative emotions are also helpful messages, inviting you to shift your focus before you manifest something undesirable. So, ALL emotions are useful because, as Abraham says, they’re your soul’s way of telling you whether or not you’re focusing on what your soul is focused on (or in the same way or on the same aspects). What a wonderful guide for your entire life!

Another great aspect of this teaching is the Emotional Scale (pictured at right). While you might not have access to an emotion that’s far away from your current state (e.g., trying to jump straight from depression to love), you can usually at least lean toward an emotion that feels even a little bit better (e.g., moving from pessimism to boredom and then to hopefulness). Throughout this process, the key feeling is always RELIEF — you’re looking for a thought, an activity, or a focus that brings you some degree of relief. If you feel relief, you’re pointing in a positive direction. And you can feel this by focusing on a better-feeling thought for as little as 17 seconds!

3. “Everything you want is downstream.” — This is the one that might push the most buttons, as it flies in the face of nearly every message society gives us throughout our lives. To summarize this teaching in non-Abe terms: “Life Was Never Meant to Be a Struggle” (as Stuart Wilde wrote in the title of his popular book). We are designed to go with the flow, rather than fighting the current of life. (Esther and Jerry Hicks learned this lesson firsthand during a whitewater rafting trip, when attempting to paddle upstream would have proven arduous, unpleasant, and utterly futile.) Despite the fact that the world tends to give out trophies (figuratively and sometimes literally) for bucking the current, fighting our natural inclinations, and struggling mightily, the upstream enterprise runs directly counter to our happiness, to our soul, to the universe. As my t’ai chi teacher once told me, “You can either work with the force that creates worlds, moves the tides, and sustains life…or you can fight it.” Although it might not sound as heroic as “fighting the good fight,” Abraham encourages downstream living, and so do I.

4. The 3 Steps of Manifestation — These steps are summarized by the Abraham-Hicks book title, Ask and It Is Given: Step 1 (ask) happens every time we want something. In Abraham terms, “contrasts launch rockets of desires,” meaning that when an unwanted feeling or situation arises, it makes us want something more desirable. (This is one reason not to resist a seemingly negative situation or to feel bad about feeling bad — this is what stimulates desire, which is the basis of all growth, improvement, and life itself!) Step 2 (“it is given”) happens automatically, as the universe creates this desired reality and puts it in a sort of “vibrational escrow.” All we have to do to collect this “escrow” is Step 3: ALLOW that reality to flow into our experience. And this will happen naturally, as long we are “vibrationally aligned” with this reality rather than “paddling upstream” (away from it) or “beating the drum of what-is” by thinking about, talking about, and focusing on the contrast that initially launched the rocket of desire! Once the contrast (the perceived “problem”) has served its valuable function of launching the rocket, shift your focus toward what you DO want (the “solution”). When this is consistently your dominant thought, focus, and vibration, it will flow into your reality.

Another wonderful aspect of this teaching is that it reminds us to let a “Step-1 Moment” be just that. In other words, when an unpleasant feeling/situation arises, we can simply allow it — we don’t have to fight it, deny it, or try to race to the Step-3 finish line when it’s “all better.” (After all, this is what is leading to expansion and improvement — why deny ourselves this?!) Likewise, we can allow a “Step-3 Moment” to be just that — we don’t have to immediately look for the lesson or the “fly in the ointment” (i.e., the contrast that will give rise to future expansion). Contrasts will come naturally. When you’ve allowed a desirable experience to manifest in your life, ENJOY IT! 🙂 (Also, with time, you can increasingly enjoy the entire manifestation process — including those pesky contrasts, as well as the manifestation of new desires…and the entire journey from rocket-launching to desire-fulfillment!)

5. Is this belief serving me? — As Abraham says, “A belief is just a thought you keep thinking.” If you keep thinking something (and, therefore, believe it), chances are, it’s true. (Abraham frequently says, “We know you’re not just making this stuff up!”) But here’s the rub: That belief is probably true for you because you focused on it long enough for it to manifest in your experience (and/or you focused on it in other people’s experiences, which brought it into your own). In other words, you kept “beating the drum of what-is,” even if you didn’t want more of “what-is”! (A common example is scarcity-mindset people who repeatedly say, “I don’t have enough money, I don’t have enough money, I don’t have enough money…” when they would like to have enough money!) So, the operative question to ask yourself about your belief isn’t, “Is it true?” — it’s, “Is this belief serving me?” If it is, GREAT — keep on thinking/believing it! But if it isn’t, consider thinking thoughts that will lead to a belief that you actually WANT to be true…and it will be!

6. “Feel appreciation for what-is and eagerness for what is coming.” — These words, repeated by Abraham at the end of their meditations (and elsewhere), represent the perfect vibrational stance for manifestation…and for the enjoyment of all of your life! When you’re appreciating what-is, you’re already enjoying your life. You’re focusing on the positive aspects of your life. And, thanks to Law of Attraction, you’re vibrating on a wavelength that sends this message to the universe: “More like this, please!” 🙂 But if no one ever desired anything other than what-is, expansion would cease. Life itself would cease! But when you feel eager and enthusiastic for the manifestation of newborn desires, you allow those desires to manifest. And by feeling eagerness for what is coming, you get to enjoy the entire process (rather than only being happy “in the vortex” — during those brief intervals between the manifestation of one desire and the birth of the next one). You get to experience the excitement and vitality that comes from feeling life-force coursing through you and directing it toward what you desire!

7. “Be easy about all this.” — It’s easy to get so caught up in the seriousness (or sometimes even solemnity) of spiritual teachings that we forget to enjoy them…as well as ourselves, our lives, and the world. But if we’re not doing this, then what’s the point? As it says at the end of Ask and It Is Given, “You tend to take life so seriously. Life is supposed to be fun, you know.” Yes, throughout it all, let’s remember to relax, breathe, smile, and enjoy! 🙂

FOUR-WORD SUMMARY — Although this list is already a very small selection of Abraham’s teachings in very summarized form, if I had to summarize even further, I would probably choose the four-word question: Which thought feels better? You could live a very full, rich, satisfying life if you only asked yourself this question regularly, and then chose to focus on the better-feeling thought (i.e., the one that brings more relief). As you consistently think better-feeling thoughts, they turn into beliefs, which then turn into manifested reality. When you go to the “feeling-place” of a manifested reality (imagining/feeling it as if it were already real), you’re more than halfway there. (In fact, you ARE there in the most important sense!)  Also, at the risk of being obvious and redundant, better-feeling thoughts FEEL BETTER! And (as teaching #1 suggests) feeling better/joyful is the purpose of life! It is the goal of all goals! Think about it: the only reason you want anything is because you believe it will make you feel better; but if you simply feel better, you’ve already reached that ultimate goal!

ONE-WORD SUMMARY — And lastly, if I had to choose just ONE word to summarize Abraham’s teachings and (in my opinion) the most important guidance you could receive/follow throughout your entire life, it would be this: APPRECIATION.

So, let me now follow that one-word teaching and express my deep appreciation for Abraham, for you (for being here, sharing these words/energy with me, and for all you do and all you are), and for life itself.

YOUR TURN! I’d love to hear YOUR favorite Abraham-Hicks teachings. Do any of the ones I mention resonate with you? Are there others that would make your personal “best-of” list? Please feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts! 🙂

P.S. Please know that I am in no way trying to push these teachings on anyone. In fact, I LOVE the ever-growing variety of spiritual teachings (as Abraham says, “What a well-stocked kitchen!”) and would never want to limit them to one “correct” or “best” set of beliefs. But if any of these teachings do resonate with you and you’d like to learn more, you can do so at www.abraham-hicks.com and/or have short quotes (usually just a few sentences) sent to your inbox each morning by signing up at http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofattractionsource/dqsubscribe.php.

The Mundane Side of Karma

the mundane side of karma

What comes to mind when you hear the word karma?

Do you think of mystical forces such as vibration, energy, or cosmic retribution? Do you think of karma in terms of reincarnation and rebirth? Or maybe (if you share my internal jukebox) you hear an inner medley of John Lennon’s “Instant Karma,” Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon,” and Ratt’s “Round and Round” (featuring the head-banging chorus of “What comes around goes around”).

Whatever words you use (or songs you hear) when describing karma, it’s generally considered a profound, esoteric principle. And yes, I have no doubt that mysterious forces beyond my comprehension are involved in this process.

But I also think that there’s a mundane side of karma — a side that’s utterly commonplace, simple, and straightforward. A side that’s so obvious that it can be easy to miss!

This mundane side of karma doesn’t show up when you’re deep in prayer, meditation, or a bardo between incarnations. It shows up when you post on Facebook. It shows up when you’re talking to strangers. It shows up when you comment on a blog (so, if you’re thinking about it, be nice!). 🙂

It shows up in everyday thoughts, words, and actions…and the consequences they bring.

I’ve noticed this mundane side of karma in my business, especially while making decisions about potential partnerships. In one case, my wife and I were thinking of partnering with a woman who could’ve easily made tens of thousands of dollars from a joint business venture, year after year after year. But then she sent us a snippy email…and guess who we decided NOT to partner with!

(In this case, we also noticed the person frequently complaining publicly about money problems…which didn’t surprise us one bit. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who shied away from partnerships with her.)

Another time, we read a Facebook post of someone badmouthing a current client/employer (which only made the poster look bad). In this case, even though the post had nothing to do with us, we knew that we would NEVER consider partnering with this person. If this was the way she treated her business partners, we wanted no part of it!

(Again, it made us wonder if the complaints were the result of her problems or the cause of them!)

On the other hand, the mundane side of karma also works in positive ways. We’ve often observed expressions of gratitude, unexpected kindness, or compliments — even if they’re not directed at us — and we think, “Now THERE’S someone we really want to connect with!”

Sometimes we’ve been able to be the agents of positive karma — partnering with these good-hearted people. Other times, we’re happy to recommend them to others. And sometimes we just feel good — for ourselves and also because we know that the other person is enjoying their own positive “instant karma” through the good feelings they get from sharing good feelings!

(And in these cases, not surprisingly, we tend to notice these people enjoying good fortune in their lives.)

And it’s not just true in business. The mundane side of karma shows up in all aspects of everyday life, from romantic relationships right down to the kind of treatment you experience in the grocery store!

Just like gravity or the Law of Attraction, karma doesn’t have an off switch! It doesn’t stop working once you’ve finished meditating or saying your prayers! So be mindful of the kind of energy you’re sending out into the world through your everyday interactions, remembering that it will make its way back around!

This doesn’t mean that you always have to act like you’re in a 24/7 job interview, censoring every word in order to present yourself in a favorable light. But you might want to reconsider before you vent in an email or complain on Facebook — and think about who you’re really hurting.

On the other hand, you can be glad that the kindness you spread — online, in the grocery store, or anywhere else — not only feels good while you’re sharing it, but will also find its way back to you! A cosmic win-win! 🙂

Using this universal principle to enrich your own life — as well as those around you — is a beautiful way to turn everyday experiences into expressions of grace.

And that’s anything but mundane!

 

 

Cancel Your Insurance (Mentality)

Insurance is built on an interesting premise: the more you suffer, the more you gain.

If someone leaves a tiny scratch on your car while parallel parking, insurance might cover enough for a paint touch-up…but not a brand-new car. If a doctor accidentally scratches your finger, you probably won’t be able to sue them for as much as if they had transplanted the wrong organ.

In this way, insurance seems very fair. The compensation is (in theory) commensurate with the amount of suffering, loss, or hardship endured. Insurance also provides peace of mind that, if worse comes to worst, you can still hope to receive something to mitigate whatever misfortune may befall you. This is quite a benefit — not to mention, in many cases (e.g., auto insurance), a legal requirement!

So, no, I am not recommending that you cancel your insurance of any type…except for one: your insurance mentality.

“Insurance mentality” is the mindset that says…

  • Suffering is rewarded. (In fact, suffering is a prerequisite of reward!)
  • Only if you’ve experienced sufficient hardship do you deserve to experience joy.
  • Life is a zero-sum game in which blessings must be “paid for” by commensurate deprivation, loss, or struggle.

In short, insurance mentality says: no pain, no gain.

This approach might work while settling an insurance claim, but it’s no way to live your life. It means that every pleasure must be balanced out by an equal amount of pain. It means that you can never simply be happy. It means there’s always a catch.

Even if you consciously reject insurance mentality, it can still show up in your thoughts, words, and actions. It’s behind the compulsion you might feel to justify your blessings by citing how you’ve “earned” them (through some form of suffering). It’s behind the tendency you might feel to rationalize your joy by citing previous sorrows (almost as if they were ticket stubs you presented to an usher/bouncer in the “Theater of Joy” in order to prove that yes, you have paid for your seat — you didn’t just sneak in the back!). And it’s behind the twinge of guilt you might feel if you experience success without struggling mightily to attain it.

(It’s also, I suspect, behind talent-show contestants’ lengthy explanations of the hardships they’ve suffered — whether or not they’re related to their talent — presented as “Exhibit A, B, C, etc.” of why they now deserve to experience success.)

As absurd and illogical as insurance mentality seems to me, I’m still susceptible to it. Even within the privacy of my own mind, I’ve often noticed my thoughts acting like defense attorneys, explaining to the (imaginary) jury why I deserve the blessings I’ve received (because I’ve struggled enough). I’ll dredge up all sorts of evidence to support my case, even if it’s completely unrelated to the matter at hand. (E.g., my wife’s car accident caused her years of physical pain, so she really deserves to live by the beach and be happy.)

I’ve also noticed other well-meaning people acting like insurance-mentality lawyers defending us, explaining to others that, yes, they’re now experiencing some professional success and personal satisfaction…but they worked very hard for 10 years and struggled a lot in order to get where they are. The implication here is: …so now it’s OK for them to finally just be happy and enjoy their lives.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed this tendency. In a recent Facebook post, Elizabeth Gilbert describes how, after the publication of Eat Pray Love, she spent 10 years answering questions about her “selfishness” (e.g., getting divorced, traveling, writing, and being happy) and justifying her joy:

I’ve even tried to show how my journey from depression to joy has involved suffering, in order to make people feel better. (“Don’t worry!” I would say, “I was punished with three years of despair and anxiety for leaving that marriage, and I lost a lot of friends and all my money in the divorce, too!” Because some people can only trust joy when it has been earned through sacrifice and pain…and that’s a little weird — both that people would want evidence of suffering, or that I would feel obliged to offer it.)

Yes, it is weird that we carry around these “inner insurance-mentality lawyers” who demand evidence that we’ve earned our “settlements” of joy, success, or other positive experiences. And the greater the joy/reward, the greater the suffering these “lawyers” demand! This odd logic is on full display in my all-time favorite essay, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” as David Foster Wallace overhears many of his fellow passengers’ justifications for going on a luxury cruise:

Everybody characterizes the upcoming week as either a long-put-off reward or as a last-ditch effort to salvage sanity and self from some inconceivable crockpot of pressure, or both.  A lot of the explanatory narratives are long and involved, and some are sort of lurid. Two different conversations involve people who’ve just buried a relative they’d been nursing at home for months as the relative lingered hideously. A floral wholesaler in an aqua MARLINS shirt talks about how he’s managed to drag the battered remnants of his soul through the Xmas-to-Valentine rush only by dangling in front of himself the carrot of this week of total relaxation and renewal. A trio of Newark cops all just retired and had promised themselves a Luxury Cruise if they survived their 20.

(To this observation, Wallace adds one of his trademark footnotes about “the subtle universal shame that accompanies self-indulgence, the need to explain to just about anybody why the self-indulgence isn’t in fact really self-indulgence.”)

But why is any shame, justification, or rationalization necessary at all? Why can’t they simply enjoy themselves without feeling the need to “pay in advance” through their suffering? My reply is, once again: insurance mentality. They are presenting evidence to the “jury” that they deserve compensation — that they have made an equal trade: their current/forthcoming happiness is offset by their past unhappiness; therefore, the cosmic balance of joy and sorrow remains undisturbed.

Except here’s the thing: The universe isn’t going to be any worse off if you’re simply happy (or healthy or successful or blessed in any way…or in many ways). In fact, the universe will be better off because of your joy, success, health, and other blessings!

Don’t worry — you won’t be committing insurance fraud if you enjoy blessings without suffering great pain for them! The universe is not litigious. The blessings you receive are not some cosmic settlement. They need not be commensurate with past pains.

We can simply be happy and enjoy our blessings without feeling the need to make a “co-pay” of unhappiness. We can experience success without staking out an enormous premium of struggle. And we can receive blessings without the curse of guilt.

So, by all means, let’s all keep our car insurance, our health insurance, and any other insurance that gives us peace of mind.

But let’s cancel our insurance mentality!

 

365 Moments of Grace

I’m so excited to announce the launch of 365 Moments of Grace!

This is volume 2 of the 365 Book Series, which my wife and I created in 2015 with the intention to inspire, uplift, and remind you of just how magical our world is and how connected we truly are.

This latest book contains true-life stories of grace, miracles, and transformations from beautiful souls all around the world. There’s one grace-filled story for each day of the year from over 250 authors, including Jodi Chapman, Kristine Carlson, Arielle Ford…and me! 🙂

You can learn all about the book, pick up your own copy, and receive tons of bonus gifts at www.365momentsofgrace.com.

For now, I wanted to share my piece from the book. (Below the piece, I’ll share a bit about why I wrote it and what it means to me. But I won’t say anything about it yet — that might give away the ending!) Enjoy!

In the Garden

I opened my eyes and found myself sitting in a wondrous garden. Above me shone a brilliant, golden orb – too bright to look at directly but somehow gentle even in its immense power. It warmed my face and illuminated the breathtaking scene before me: a stunning explosion of colors, arranged in a way that surpassed the work of any human artist. Fairy-like creatures flew around me, their brightly colored wings shining in the light as they communicated with one another in their flute-like language of whimsical melodies. The entire garden danced with life. The air itself felt alive – caressing my skin in a way that simultaneously warmed and cooled me.

Feeling completely at peace with where I was and also eager to explore this paradisiacal setting, I stood up and took a few steps. The mossy surface cushioned my feet, yielding to me while supporting my entire being. As I looked around, I encountered hidden treasures that I hadn’t noticed at first: tiny buds on the verge of bursting into bloom, subtle decorative touches, and near-invisible winged creatures dancing above and around me.

The most magnificent part of this garden, however, went far beyond sensory beauty: Although I was completely alone (aside from the winged creatures), I was able to communicate with others who weren’t there in physical form. I became aware of their thoughts, emotions, and most meaningful experiences – “hearing” them almost as if they were communicating telepathically or describing it all in person, or as if I were living it along with them. They shared profound truths – stories occasionally touched by pain and heartbreak but ultimately leading to higher levels of grace and glory.

Their words and experiences were still swirling inside me when I encountered someone who seemed to be part human, part angel. She spoke just a few words to me, but I felt unconditionally accepted and cherished, filled with a love that I knew would last forever. With a heart filled with gratitude, I kissed my wife on the forehead, refilled my coffee, and went back out to the patio, where I continued to edit the latest batch of pieces for 365 Moments of Grace.

The Mini-Story Behind the Story

This piece comes from the “Everyday Grace” chapter, which I hope shows that our world is full of miracles…many of which may be closer than you think!

I had planned to write something different — something more “traditionally miraculous.” As I read through the stories, however, I was so moved — and I experienced a true moment of grace sitting in my own backyard. In that moment, I realized that my experience, although very “mundane” in one sense, was every bit as amazing as many of the supernatural moments I was reading about. In many ways, it even reminded me of stories of near-death experiences in which people find themselves in a beautiful setting, surrounded by angelic beings, and imbued with feelings of peace and spiritual knowing. It reminded me that you don’t have to die to go to Heaven!

I hope that you’ll check out the entire book, that you’ll enjoy the other 364 pieces, and — most of all — that you’ll experience many moments of grace in your own life.

Learn more about the book at www.365momentsofgrace.com.

P.S. If you’d like to hear directly from some of the other contributing authors who are also writing about this book, you can check out their blogs:

(Click here to see a list of all the authors writing about their experiences with this book as part of our blog tour.)

P.P.S. LIMITED-TIME BONUS OFFER! If you order this book now, you’ll receive lots of soulful bonus gifts – all created by the contributing authors – including guided meditations, ebooks, ecourses, and much more! Check it all out at www.365momentsofgrace.com.

 

99 Pounds of Bricks

99 pounds of bricksI was recently talking with a friend who was weighed down by some pretty serious challenges with her family, her business, and her health. “I feel like I’m carrying around 100 pounds of bricks,” she told me.

My first inclination was to try to fix it — to make her feel all better. I wanted her to feel free and weightless — as if she were walking on air, bursting with joy!

So I started suggesting that she focus on joy — thinking about all the things she loved, felt grateful for, and filled her with vitality and zest for life. Approximately three seconds into this pep talk, however, her glazing-over eyes told me that this was not the right approach for her situation.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see why. Telling someone who’s buried under a mountain of difficulties that they should snap out of it and just get happy is about as helpful — and unrealistic — as telling someone who’s stuck in a ditch that they should be dancing on a mountaintop, singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” at the top of their lungs. It ain’t gonna happen, and even just suggesting it is likely to make them feel worse (and might even get you smacked if you’re too pushy about it).

Fortunately, I didn’t get smacked — mainly because we were talking via Skype, but also because I quickly changed to a new approach: rather than trying to go straight from feeling buried under 100 pounds of bricks to dancing on air, I encouraged her to simply take one step in the right direction — to go from carrying 100 pounds of bricks to carrying 99 pounds.

So, how do you go from 100 pounds of bricks to 99?

You “try on” different thoughts — just as if you were in a clothing store, trying on different outfits. Some of them feel tight, some are too loose, and some just aren’t you. But if you try on enough thoughts, you’ll eventually find one that feels right.

And what does the “right” thought feel like?

One that makes you feel RELIEF. One that makes you exhale. One that makes you feel even a little bit lighter — not necessarily all the way from carrying 100 pounds to carrying nothing, but perhaps going from 100 pounds to 99.

For my friend, one thought that felt better was that she didn’t have to make any major business decisions right in that moment. She could set aside the question that was weighing on her and address it later, when she felt inspired. It would be there waiting for her when the time felt right.

Phew! One brick removed!

Regarding her health, it felt better to give herself a little bit more self-care, to not push quite so hard, and certainly not to beat herself up for not feeling 100% — while knowing that, sooner or later, her health would improve. In the meantime, she could enjoy a slightly slower pace.

Phew! Another brick removed!

(And so on.)

No, she did not remove all the “bricks” by the end of our hour-long chat. Nor was she bouncing around the room with joy. But she took a few steps in the right direction. She removed a few bricks. She felt a little bit lighter.

And she felt something else that she hadn’t felt when we started talking: hope.

How about you? Do you ever feel like you’re carrying around 100 pounds of bricks (or even just one or two)? Rather than trying to drop the whole load at once, how can you put down a “brick” or two? What thoughts could you “try on” that might help you feel even a bit of relief, a bit lighter, or a bit more hopeful?