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?

I’ve Got Your Back

trust-fallIf you’ve already read my previous post, you know how much I’m enjoying my new house and town near the beach. It’s been an incredibly positive, life-changing move, for which I’m immensely grateful.

What I didn’t mention in that post, however, was how this dream-come-true move was almost a nightmare — and how avoiding it strengthened my faith and taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.

The dodging of the proverbial bullet came exactly one year before we actually moved: December 23, 2014. After months of fruitlessly searching for our dream house on the Oregon coast, my wife and I found one that looked perfect — a well-kept house mere blocks from the beach in a nice town (or so we thought, based on the pictures and descriptions). It seemed so appealing that we were willing to put down a deposit, sight-unseen. After all, visiting would require a multi-day trip; and the housing market was so competitive that if we didn’t act right away, someone else might snatch it away from us.

So we filled out the forms and were just about to sign off on the place, when we thought of one final question: Would they hold the house for us for just a few days? After all, the next day was Christmas Eve, and we didn’t want to be buried in moving paperwork over the holidays.

But the realtor wouldn’t budge. They told us that, of course, we had the option of waiting until after the holidays; but by then someone else might swoop in and take the house. That’s what we decided to do, and that’s exactly what happened.

At first, I was crestfallen. After a few more months of renewed fruitless searching, I felt devastated. A few months later, when a major building project turned our backyard into a construction site, I began to doubt myself, my judgment, and the universe. (Yes, I can be a bit melodramatic; but being awakened at the crack of dawn by bulldozers 20 feet from my bedroom window wasn’t exactly helping the situation.)

Anyway, with some encouragement from my wife and the Abraham-Hicks teachings, I eventually mustered up enough hopefulness to make an early Christmas wish: I wanted to spend Christmas on the beach, minutes from our beautiful, new house (wherever that might be). Again, if you’ve read my previous post (or even this post’s first-paragraph spoiler), you’ll know that my wish came true.

But that’s just half of the magic.

The other half came after we’d been living in this new house for a month — when we decided to take a day trip to the nearby town where we almost moved to and check out the house that was almost ours.

Although I’ve never tried internet dating, I’ve heard horror stories about people using decades’-old pictures in their profiles, misrepresenting themselves, or just flat-out lying to make themselves seem more attractive. Well, this house (and neighborhood and town) was the real-estate equivalent.

The house itself was an absolute dump. The paint was chipping; the lawn was covered with scraggly, overgrown weeds; and it had absolutely no privacy — being situated just a few feet from every house it bordered (a detail that was not apparent from the conveniently angled online photos.) Overall, it looked like it had been in foreclosure for years, as did most of the houses in the sketchy-looking neighborhood.

The town itself was even worse. (The Subway sandwich shop was literally the highlight.) The energy of the whole area felt so bad — so not us — that we cut short what was going to be an all-day excursion and high-tailed it out of there as fast as we could turn the car around…giving thanks all the while for having dodged this bullet of a would-be move.

It was amazing to think that we were a signature away from being stuck with this place. It was also amazing to think that the house we’d ended up in — exactly what we’d wished for in every respect (the house, the neighborhood, and the town) — cost the exact same amount!

In addition to my gratitude for a crisis (or at least a serious bummer) avoided, I also received a life-changing lesson, one which I’ll never forget. As I looked at the lemon of a house that was almost mine (no disrespect to lemons), I heard a voice from within me say four words:

I’ve got your back.

I reflected on those words and on how the universe had conspired to steer me away from this not-right-for-me situation. I thought about all the times in the past year when I’d second-guessed myself, when I’d lost faith. I thought about how the year-long delay had been such a tremendous blessing. (In retrospect, there was no WAY we could have comfortably moved earlier: my wife was hit by a severe case of adrenal fatigue, we were launching our first collaborative book, and we simply weren’t ready.) And I thought about what an absolutely ideal situation we’d ended up in…especially compared to what could have been…and almost was! And I knew I would never doubt it again: the universe really did — and does — have my back.

And it always will.

This Stuff Really Works

Jodi-word-art-your-dreams

For the past several years, my wife has regularly posted inspiring word art on Facebook. But of all the hundreds of posts she’s shared — others’ and her own — I’m most inspired by the ones she’s put up in the last two months. It’s not because her previous words weren’t inspiring (they were) or that the art wasn’t beautiful (it was); it’s because these latest posts are more than just words to me — they’re my own real-life experiences.

I’m living them.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an experience is worth a million!

For instance, I love the words she put with the picture above: “Your dreams are just waiting to come true. Imagine them. Feel them. Live them.” Before the past few months, I might have just thought that these were nice-sounding, uplifting words; but now I know how profound and true they really are — and that the picture is the living evidence of their truth!

You see, this is exactly what we experienced.

It all started with our dream of moving to the Oregon coast — a dream that was born over a year and a half ago, when we visited the coast for our 10th wedding anniversary. Although we spent less than 24 hours there, we liked it so much that we decided to go back. And next time, we decided, we’d stay longer — maybe for a weekend or even a full week. As we imagined spending an entire week at the beach, it felt so nice that we thought, why not spend an entire month? — and this thought felt so appealing that we started imagining how nice it would be to spend the whole summer.

And this desire grew into our dream to move to the beach…forever!

So, now that we had a dream, we had a perfect chance to try out everything we’d learned in recent years while immersed in the world of self-help and spirituality — all the stuff about “making your dreams come true” from all those self-help books, Abraham-Hicks videos, personal-growth blogs, and, yes, even the many inspiring sayings posted daily on our Facebook walls.

It was time to put it all to the test and see if this stuff really worked!

We knew that, for better or worse, we couldn’t just snap our fingers and live this dream immediately. We had business commitments, health concerns, and other obstacles that wouldn’t let us pack up and move the next day. But while we were waiting for the externals to align, we didn’t have to wait for the internal experience — we could imagine the beach and feel how good it would be to live there.

So that’s what I did: I took daily “trips” to the beach…in my mind and in my heart.

I’d visualize the sand, the waves, and Jodi sitting next to me. I’d feel relaxed and happy — just as I’d been during our anniversary trip…and just as I expected to be once we moved there. And I’d exhale and smile. 🙂

And while these inner vacations felt great immediately, they also had another benefit: they strengthened my resolve that this dream would become a reality. And, thanks to the Law of Attraction, they helped get me on a beachy “wavelength” — attracting elements that would help manifest this dream.

Christmas-at-the-beachAs time went on, my visualizations got more and more specific — including imagining us spending Christmas Day on the beach. Well, to make a long story (somewhat) short: Just after Thanksgiving, circumstances changed dramatically — and within a month, this dream that we’d nurtured for a year and a half became a reality. We moved to Florence on December 23, had our stuff delivered December 24, and spent Christmas Day on the beach! 🙂

I wanted to share this for two reasons: First of all, because it makes me incredibly happy, and I like to share my happiness with others! Even more than this, though, I wanted to share evidence that all of the feel-good words that we talk about and write about and post about are more than just words…they’re real! All of the teachings about visualization and manifestation and Law of Attraction and raising your vibration and going to the “feeling place” of a dream even before it becomes an external reality…and on and on and on — this stuff really works!

(For proof, see the pictures above and below, which wouldn’t exist if the words were merely words!)

So, while your dreams may be very different from mine (especially if you’re not a beach-lover), the same principles can make them come true. Even before you can do anything external about your dream, you can visualize it. You can go to the feeling place (as if you were already living it). And you can maintain faith that, in divine timing, you too will be living it.

And you will.

Jodi-word-art-evidence

 

The Anne Lamott Lighthouse

lighthouse-lamott_quoteDo you have a word of the year for 2016?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced the power that comes from setting an intention (for a year, a day, or even the next few minutes) — whether it’s a specific goal or just a general theme. One of my favorite ways to set a general intention for the coming year is to pick a word of the year.

This year, my word is “lighthouse.”

Unlike my words for the past few years — finish, here, and flow — this one may require a bit of explanation. It’s inspired by one of my favorite quotes:

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” ~ Anne Lamott

This resonates deeply with me and serves as an important reminder in several ways:

  • It’s a reminder that, even when we have something of value to share (and all of us do!), we don’t have to live like door-to-door salesmen pushing our wares (or beliefs, lifestyles, etc.) on others.
  • It’s a reminder to simply be yourself.
  • And it’s a reminder that, simply by being yourself, you provide a valuable service to others — not necessarily because you’re trying to, but because your true essence shines, it illuminates everything around you.

The Anne Lamott lighthouse quote also encourages us to get our own “house” in order — reminding us that we serve others through our living example: by being our true self and by glowing!

Most of all, it encourages us to shine!

(The one area where the metaphor ceases to be literally true is in the area of attraction: When a lighthouse shines, it helps boats to steer away from it — whereas when you shine, you attract others to you who resonate with your gifts, your essence, and your glow!)

An interesting, personal note about this word: Less than a month ago, after deciding on “lighthouse” as my word of 2016, my wife and I moved to a new house — one that is filled with light on many levels. It also happens to be located in Florence, Oregon, a city known for its iconic lighthouse (the one I’m standing in front of in the picture below)!

This new house and the entire area really seem to embody the energy I’ve been inviting into my life. Aside from being near the literal lighthouse, it’s also near the ocean, which epitomizes the “lighthouse” principle.

Dan-at-lighthouse

Today, after spending time at the beach (admiring the lighthouse and the ocean), my wife pointed out that the ocean isn’t trying to give anything or help anyone — much less save anyone! But just by being itself, it offers so much to everyone: it gives beauty, energy, power, serenity, inspiration, and so much more (including the seashells we admire and sometimes collect)!

And, like the lighthouse, the ocean doesn’t have to run around seeking people to help (or “save”). We are drawn to it — and we draw nourishment from it simply by being in its presence.

So, in 2016 (and beyond), this is how I intend to live: I intend to shine, to glow, and to be myself, feeling confident that simply by doing so, I will provide value to those who resonate with my essence and are naturally drawn to this glow. And if living this way happens to inspire anyone to find and express their own authentic inner glow, that would also be wonderful! 🙂

May this be a year when we all allow our true selves to shine.

Upper photo by Anita Ritenour. Lower photo by Jodi Chapman.

A New Year’s Eve Ritual (for ANY day)

fire_pit

What’s your favorite New Year’s Eve ritual?

Do you watch the ball drop at Times Square? Do you wear silly hats and blow noisemakers? Do you kiss your sweetie and sing “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight? There are so many wonderful ways to ring in the new year — and no one way is right or wrong (although certain rituals may be regretted the following morning).

This year, my wife and I are going to celebrate with a new ritual (which you can feel free to try for yourself, adapting it in any way you’d like to fit your personal style). Throughout the day, we’re going to write down two types of experiences:

  1. Things that we’ve experienced throughout the past year that we’d like to release, and
  2. Things that we’d like to bring into our experience throughout the coming year.

Shortly before midnight, we’re going to build a fire (in our new portable fire pit — a Christmas present to each other — yay!). Then, at midnight, we’ll burn the pieces of paper with our wishes.

One of the nice things about this ritual is that we can be grateful for both types of experiences. The experiences that we deliberately release (and don’t wish to carry forward into the new year) have helped us clarify what we DO want in our future.

For instance, I know that I’ll be releasing stress and struggle — so two of the experiences I’ll be calling into my life will be ease and flow. I’ll let go of illness and fatigue and call in health and vitality. And I’ll thank the experiences that reminded me of how important these positive desires truly are to me.

The positive desires reflect the best of both worlds: positive experiences that I wish to continue, as well as new things that I’d like to call into my life. This way, I get to feel gratitude for the joy I’ve experienced over the past year, while also using my creativity to imagine positive new scenarios for the future.

By burning both types of wishes, I’ll release what I no longer wish to carry forward, while also releasing control over the positive experiences I’m calling in — acknowledging that the specific details, as well as the big picture, may be quite different from what I imagine. But however it turns out, I know that there is power in setting an intention and turning over the outcome to something bigger. This is what I’ll be thinking of as I watch the smoke and flames rise into the night sky.

If you’d like to join me in this process — no matter where you are in the world or in your life — I’d love to hear about what specific ritual you practice, as well as anything you’re releasing or calling forward into your life. However you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful time honoring the outgoing year while greeting the new one with joy, hope, and love.

P.S. Another great thing about this ritual is that you can practice it ANY time — New Year’s, a birthday, or any day at all. You don’t need to wait for a “special occasion” — you can make ANY occasion special through your intentions…and any ritual that helps to reinforce those intentions.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🙂

 

 

365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul

365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul

TODAY’S THE BIG DAY!

Back in April, my wife, Jodi Chapman, and I got the idea to create a collaborative book. Now, after over seven months of planning, preparation, writing, editing, connecting, and behind-the-scenes work, this brand-new book has been “born” into the world! So, it is with great pride and joy that I introduce…

365 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR SOUL!

This special book is filled with over 400 pages of soulful practices, offering one tip for each day of the year from over 200 contributors — including me, Jodi, bestselling authors Arielle Ford, Peggy McColl, Christy Whitman, and many others — from all around the world and all walks of life. These writers all came together to share how they connect with their soul with the hopes that it will help you connect with yours as well…in ways that are easy and fun!

The pieces in the book cover a wide array of topics, divided into 10 chapters:

  • Soulful Practices
  • Gratitude, Love, & Prayer
  • Nature & Animals
  • Playing & Having Fun
  • Wellness & Self-Care
  • Creativity & Writing
  • Meditation
  • Angels, Spirit Guides, & the Ethereal
  • Thoughts, Feelings, & Our Vibrations
  • Following Our Purpose & Passion

As a proud “book-parent” I love so many things about this wonderful book. I also have to acknowledge that this is not something that Jodi and I could have created on our own — it truly did take a “village,” which is one of the aspects I love the most. Because it includes hundreds of tips from hundreds of authors, it goes far beyond what any single perspective could offer — so, hopefully, everyone will find something that speaks to them. Our vision is to share all of the authors’ wonderful tips, tools, and techniques; and, most importantly, help you connect with your soul!

Here are the links where you can learn more about the book and pick up your copy:

  • Amazon – When you pick up the book through Amazon, you’ll not only get this amazing book (all bias aside) 🙂 but you’ll also gain access to over 100 bonus gifts — including meditations, ebooks, courses, and more — all contributed by the authors!
  • 365WaystoConnectWithYourSoul.com – Where you can meet the contributors, preview the bonus gifts (and claim them, after you buy the book), read a couple pieces from the collection (including my own, “The Gratitude Game”), and learn more about the book.

Thank you again to everyone who has helped to make this dream a reality — and to everyone around the world who values connecting with their own soul. (Yes, this includes YOU!) 🙂

Click here to learn more about this book, the authors, the bonus gifts, and how you can pick up your own copy of this special, soulful book.

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P.S. It also makes a great holiday gift for friends, family…or yourself! 😉

P.P.S. Check out some of the other great authors who have shared about it on their blogs:

P.P.P.S. Please feel free to help us spread the word about the book (by posting on social-media or in any way you’d like). To make it super easy to share, here’s a sample tweet (which you can copy/paste as is or use as a model for your own personalized version):

How do YOU connect with your soul? This new book has 365 ways! Order now & get over 100 soulful gifts! http://goo.gl/fC0FuT #365soulbook

Inviting the Vampire (or not)

draculaEach year around Halloween, our thoughts (and decorations and kids’ costumes) often involve ghouls, goblins, and monsters. And the monsters that seem to be enjoying the greatest vogue in recent years (due in large part to the Twilight series) are vampires.

Although I’ve managed to avoid the most recent wave of vampire-mania, there is one bit of lore I’ve somehow picked up in this area: Vampires are only allowed to enter your home if you invite them in.

Now, before I go any further, I should clarify: No, I do not believe in actual vampires. And, as I’ve already mentioned, I have not been “bitten” by the recent wave of obsession with pop-culture vampires (no matter how hunky or goth-chic they may be). I do, however, believe that many people and situations can (metaphorically/energetically) “suck the blood” right out of you — they can drain your life-force, deplete your energy, and leave you feeling physically and emotionally enervated.

If you’ve ever felt preyed upon by “emotional vampires” (such as bullies; narcissists; or anyone who sucks you into their long, boring monologues) you’re not alone. You’re also not without help: numerous articles, courses, and entire books have been written about how to deal with the draining people/elements in your life. While it’s good to know that help is available, I’m more interested in the preventive approach of not inviting these “vampires” into your life in the first place.

So, how do we (metaphorically) “invite a vampire into our home”? I can answer this question with a single word: ATTENTION.

When you give something (including a person or even a thought) your attention, you invite it into your experience. And when you continue to focus on it, you “feed” it — you give it your “blood,” your energy, your life-force.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t give your time and energy to others. Much of the time, the energy you give (or “invest”) is returned to you — perhaps many times over! That’s how you know that you’re not dealing with an emotional vampire. Rather than feeling drained, you feel energized, uplifted, full of life, seen, heard, loved. When the opposite is true, however, you may have entered the Twilight zone (not to be confused with The Twilight Zone, although it may feel like that as well).

The good news is that BOTH of these experiences — feeling uplifted or drained — are helpful. They’re both useful forms of feedback from the universe (and from your own emotions/energy), letting you know whether or not something is aligned with your highest good. If it is (as evidenced by your good/energized feelings), keep doing what you’re doing! But if it drains you, it might be time for a healthy change.

Here’s where my advice may differ from classic vampire lore (and many self-help teachings). My approach isn’t to try to “combat” or “slay” the vampire (not even with metaphorical stakes). The way I see it, if you invite a “vampire” into your life through attention, the way to remove it is to simply WITHDRAW that attention.

But even that wording may be too negative — and perhaps too difficult. (By trying to not focus on something, you’re still focusing on it in a way, right? Like the classic example: “DON’T think about a white elephant!”…and what’s the next thing you think of?)

Instead, I’ll offer the closest thing I know to a panacea — for dealing with vampires, negative thoughts, or anything else that doesn’t uplift you: Focus on what you DO want. Give your attention to what makes you feel good. Think, say, and do things that FILL you with life, love, and energy.

When you fill your thoughts, emotions, and life with positivity, there is simply no space for emotional vampires or anything else that depletes you. They cannot exist in that high-vibration environment!

So the next time you notice a vampire at your doorstep, don’t panic or feel the need to perform esoteric rituals to ward off evil spirits. Simply choose not to invite them in — by returning your attention to anything uplifting, life-affirming, or soul-nourishing. Before long, the vampires will move along…and you’ll be too focused on joy to even notice!

(Of course, if those vampires happen to be under four feet tall and shouting “trick or treat,” they can probably be placated by a candy bar or two!)

What Are You Becoming?

entelechy-acornEntelechy is a Greek word that means “the fullest realized essence of a thing.”

I love this word. Even more, I love this concept. And I especially love this concept when it’s applied to people.

I love the idea that within each of us lies the potential to become fully realized, fully ourselves.

The analogy that’s frequently used to illustrate this idea is the acorn. And yes, this is a great symbol of how much power and potential can be locked inside even a very small seed (or person or project). It’s a great reminder that even if we feel like we’re at the very early stages of development (of a business, a creative endeavor, or ourselves), we have the capacity to create and become something grand, magnificent, and fully realized.

This doesn’t mean that an acorn is not magnificent in and of itself. It is magnificent as an acorn. It is magnificent when it grows into a small shrub. And it is magnificent when it becomes a fully grown oak tree — its entelechy — just as we are magnificent at every stage of development.

If you’re ever feeling frustrated about where you are, it’s encouraging to remember the acorn — to let it remind you that you’re constantly becoming, moving toward your own entelechy…even if no one else can see it yet — even if you can’t even see it yourself!

On top of this, human beings have several advantages over acorns:

  • The acorn doesn’t get to decide what it wants to be when it grows up, but WE do.
  • We can change our mind at any point and head in a new direction.
  • We can also reach full maturity (as an adult and/or in a chosen field) and then decide that we’d like to switch, to become something else.
  • Or we can be two or more (perhaps MANY more) things at once!

In short, we get all the reassuring benefit of knowing that we’re always in the process of becoming — of realizing our entelechy — and we also get the benefit of free will and self-determination.

Plus, we’re surrounded by wonderful role models — in nature, in business, and in all areas of human life — serving as living testaments to the possibilities of life and the beautiful aspects inherent in all stages of development.

What is your entelechy? What are you becoming? Even if you don’t know the details, doesn’t it feel reassuring — and exciting — to know that you are still in the midst of a grand process of ever-increasing fulfillment, growth, and self-realization?