1 DO + 1 DON’T of Romantic Relationships

If you’re looking for love or would like to improve the romantic relationship you’re already in, Valentine’s Day can be the best time of year…or the worst! It seems like everyone is talking (and frequently giving advice) about love and romance. And while much of this is wonderful — a celebration of love — a lot of it is negative, self-defeating, and untrue (or at least not necessarily true).

Everyone’s experience of love (and everything else) is different, so I’d never want to dismiss or downplay what someone else has been through. But over the last 16 years of being in a loving relationship with my amazing wife, Jodi, I’ve learned a few things that I think are universal. While I could go on for hours about this topic, for now I’ll focus on just 1 DO and 1 DON’T of romantic relationships.

The 1 DO of Romantic Relationships

I’ve said it before, but it certainly bears repeating. If I had only one piece of advice to give to anyone interested in a healthy, loving, long-lasting romantic relationship, it would be this:

Be deeply in love, and be on the same team.

(OK, that’s a bit of a cheat because it’s a two-part compound sentence, but the first part — be deeply in love — is more of a prerequisite. After all, if you’re not deeply in love with someone, why would you want to be in a relationship with them in the first place?)

So, assuming you are deeply in love and you do want to be in a loving, romantic relationship, the key really is to be on the same team. This means that, as with teammates in sports, you don’t try to sabotage or tear each other down — you try to support and bring out the best in each other. And, just like sports teammates, it’s impossible for one of you to win while the other loses. (I always find it bizarre to hear couples talk about who “won” an argument. The very notion of a “winner” and a “loser” stems from a zero-sum-game mindset of opposition rather than cooperation and LOVE!)

Being on the same team doesn’t mean you’ll never disagree, hurt one another (unintentionally!), or face hardship and adversity. But if you always nurture, support, and root for each other (and for your two-person “team”), you’ll be able to make it through hard times together and celebrate mutual victories!

The 1 DON’T of Romantic Relationships

But to be on the same team, you’ve got to have a willing teammate. So, what prevents many people from finding a loving partner (or feeling a healthy love from their current partner)? I believe it comes down to this one “DON’T” of romantic relationships:

Don’t harbor self-defeating beliefs about love and relationships.

To say that your experiences reflect your beliefs would be a major understatement. To a very large extent, your beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies that determine the quality of your life! And in no area is this more evident than in romantic relationships.

Lately I’ve felt inundated by limiting beliefs about relationships, often spouted like self-evident truths by well-meaning people who are, nonetheless, preventing themselves and others from experiencing the love we all deserve. One recent example came from a woman (on the wonderful TV show This Time Next Year) who set the intention to attract a loving partner within a year. When they followed up a year later, she hadn’t found love, which she justified with one of the most self-defeating beliefs out there:

Men don’t want to commit.

As Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers used to say: Really!?! Tell that to the millions (perhaps billions) of men in committed relationships (including me)! Clearly, this woman’s belief reflects her experiences — and, therefore, her experiences reflect this belief!

Another self-defeating (or at least self-hindering) belief about relationships that often gets bandied about like a romantic axiom is:

Relationships are hard work.

Statements like this always make me respond (usually just in my mind but sometimes out loud) with two of the most powerful words in the English language: Says you! No doubt they’re true for the person saying them (and for many other people), but the real question is: Do they HAVE to be? (Or, more to the point: Do you WANT them to be?)

What if someone told you that friendships are hard work? What if they said, “To have a true friendship is really tough — you have to struggle to make it work.” Would you believe them? Aren’t most of your best friendships ones where you enjoy being together, sharing common interests and activities? Where you look forward to seeing them, and the connection just flows naturally? Where you can lean on them in hard times and celebrate the good times together?

So why does it have to be different with a “friend with benefits” — with someone who’s your best friend in the world? In my opinion — and experience — it doesn’t! Relationships don’t have to be hard work! They can flow just as easily as the most natural and loving friendships!

You may have heard the saying “If you argue for your limiting beliefs, you get to keep them.” Well, this is certainly true for limiting beliefs about love and relationships. And the more deeply ingrained these beliefs become, the less likely it is that you’ll experience anything contrary to what you believe (at least not without overcoming some serious cognitive dissonance). But if you loosen the reins on your limiting beliefs — even just a bit, opening yourself to even consider an alternative — you’ll find that you can have the best of both worlds.

Do You Want to Be Right, or Do You Want Love (or BOTH)?

Again, my point here is not to dismiss anyone’s beliefs or experiences (or to say that mine are better…or even “right”). I just hate to see people depriving themselves of the love they desire, especially when that love might be just a slight shift in perception away!

And, time and again, I’ve seen that once you get locked into a self-defeating habit (such as seeing your partner as an opponent rather than a teammate) or a limiting belief (such as “relationships are hard”), your experiences will most likely reinforce these attitudes, making it feel like you’re right. Remember, though, that the important question isn’t Am I right? — it’s Am I experiencing the loving romantic relationship that I desire and deserve?

If you’re experiencing anything less, maybe the time has come to ask yourself another set of questions:

  • Are my beliefs and actions serving me?
  • Are they leading me closer to my ideal romantic relationship or away from it?
  • Are they opening or shutting the door to more love?
  • Are they self-fulfilling prophecies that I WANT to fulfill?

(Note: As you may have noticed, these questions are just as relevant in other areas of your life as they are in love and romance. But for now, we’ll stay on the topic of the month.)

Keep in mind that while your beliefs may be true for you, they probably don’t HAVE to be true. You could just as easily adopt positive beliefs and actions that DO serve you and lead you closer to the love you want.

So if you find yourself thinking something like “I’m too old for love,” “No one wants to marry a single mother,” or “Marriage is hard work and struggle,” your experiences will most likely bear out these beliefs. But the same goes for positive beliefs such as “Marriage is a joyous flow of loving energy” or “My partner always has my back…just like a good teammate.” And when you adopt beliefs like this — and the actions that support them — you’ll find that you can be right AND find love!

P.S. If you’d like to watch an interview where I elaborate on these ideas and many other thoughts/experiences about love, you can do so by signing up for the FREE Soulful Love Summit! You’ll get access to access to 20 interviews (+ many free gifts, including a 4-week “Soulful Love” ecourse from me and Jodi) to help you experience a loving romantic relationship. Click here to see the details and sign up.

 

A Timeless Message of Hope

I wasn’t planning on writing a timely post for Martin Luther King day this year, but I saw something yesterday that inspired me to do so: I watched David Letterman’s recent interview with Barack Obama, and when the far-ranging conversation turned to civil rights, Letterman recalled walking with John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, 50 years after the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965.

As you may already know, during the first march (a legal, nonviolent protest against discriminatory voting regulations), state troopers attacked the unarmed marchers with nightsticks and tear gas, and even beat Amelia Boynton (one of the march’s organizers) until she was unconscious.

Although this horrific experience (known as “Bloody Sunday”) was a major setback, the marchers were not defeated. Two days later, when they returned to the location for a “Turnaround Tuesday” march, their numbers had swelled to nearly five times the size of the original march, as they were joined by sympathizers from all around the country, including Martin Luther King.

This event, however, was also not the success they had envisioned, as they were forced to discontinue the march long before they reached Montgomery. Also, after the march, KKK members attacked and killed James Reeb, a minister from Boston who was in town for the march.

But even this second round of setbacks and tragedy did not stop the movement. In fact, less than two weeks later, the marchers returned — and this time they realized their original vision. By the time they reached Montgomery (on March 25, 1965, with federal protection and nationwide support), they had been joined by approximately 25,000 supporters — almost 50 times the number of people as had started the original march!

The marches were not merely a symbolic success. Between the second and third marches, President Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Bill to prohibit racial discrimination in voting; that summer, he signed the bill into law.

Hearing this story recounted, I was incredibly moved by the strength and bravery of the marchers in 1965, and I was also filled with hope for the present and future. At a time when it’s so easy to lose hope — to feel your spirit crushed by personal and social setbacks — it’s encouraging to remember that others have prevailed over setbacks…and emerged with even greater strength!

I realize that the victories of 1965 weren’t absolute or permanent. The pendulum swings back and forth. Discrimination is not over, and John Lewis and other civil-rights advocates still come under attack for their efforts to advance equality and justice. But the example of John Lewis, Martin Luther King, and the other marchers in Selma renewed my faith that oppression of truth, justice, and freedom will be met with a magnified surge of soulful strength and peaceful power.

So if you’re feeling disheartened at seeing the resurgence of a newly emboldened KKK, the disparagement of black people in the U.S. and around the world, or other examples of bigotry (such as Islamophobia or anti-LGBT discrimination), find hope in the Civil Rights Movement, which overcame setbacks and came back stronger than ever!

And the same holds true in ALL areas of your life: If you face personal setbacks, obstacles, attacks (of any kind), or even tragedies, please know that this does not need to be the end of the road for you. You too can rise up even stronger, you can recommit to your values with redoubled vigor, and you can reach your dreams.

On this day of national remembrance, may these reminders bring you a renewed sense of faith, optimism, and hope.

Photograph by Steve Schapiro: John Lewis (far right) marches to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965 with the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, James Foreman, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Douglas.

 

David Cassidy’s Last Words

Last month, former teen idol David Cassidy died at the age of 67.

The world has lost some pretty big rock stars recently — including Tom Petty, Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Malcolm Young of AC/DC, and Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens (not as well known as the others, but one of my all-time favorites) — but none of their deaths haunt me as much as Cassidy’s.

This might seem odd since I wasn’t even a fan of his. I never watched The Partridge Family, and I don’t really know his music. (I only vaguely remember hearing “I Think I Love You” as a kid, but that’s about it.)

Although my heart goes out to his friends, family, and fans, I didn’t feel any particular connection with him. What affected me so much were his last words (as reported by his daughter, Katie Cassidy):

“So much wasted time.”

Oof! If that’s not a kick in the gut (and a kick in the pants), I don’t know what is! If there’s any sentence that none of us would want as our final words, that would be it.

I’m not sure what exactly he was thinking or feeling when he said these words, but it can’t have been good. After all, this is exactly the opposite of what most of us want: time well spent, a life well spent…however we personally define that. For some of us, this might mean fame and riches. For others of us, it might simply mean living a rich life — full of meaningful connections, personal satisfaction, and spiritual fulfillment.

When Cassidy’s daughter shared his final words, she wrote: “This will be a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love [and] to never waste another minute.”

I hope that it offers the same reminder to all of us, so that when the time comes for us to speak our own last words, they can be:

“So much well-spent time.”

Because, after all, time well spent is a life well spent.

How about you? What would you consider time/life well spent?

Would that mean more time with your loved ones? More time spent on spiritual practices? More time accomplishing meaningful life goals? Or just more time having fun and feeling good?

For me, all of these things are true! First and foremost, spending time with the love of my life is always top priority. I’d also like to get to the beach more often since we live just 3 minutes away! 🙂

In addition to this, I’d like to accomplish several important life goals…and enjoy the journey while I’m doing this! And if I had to pick just one personal goal, it would be writing/publishing a book. (If I were to die now, one of my biggest regrets would be that I didn’t complete a couple that I’ve been meaning to write for some time now.)

So in 2018 I’m going to take a big step toward preempting this regret — and making good use of my time — by committing to finishing and publishing at least one book. And to make sure that I do this — while helping others with this goal to do the same — I’m going to be leading (and participating in) Your Soulful Book, a yearlong heart-centered writing program that provides all the tools you need to write, publish, and market your soulful book.

If this sounds like a dream you’d also like to make come true for yourself in 2018, I hope you’ll join us. You can get all the info at www.yoursoulfulbook.com. If you have any questions about the program or would like to talk to me about it, I’d be happy to set up a video chat with you — just email me at info@yoursoulfulbook.com.

Whatever your dreams are for 2018 (and beyond), I hope you make them come true — so that you can look back and think, “Now that was time well spent!”

 

Inspiration from a Young Mother

The stories in our new book, Goodness Abounds, follow two basic guidelines:

  1. They have to be true stories about goodness.
  2. The “good-doer” has to be someone other than the author.

Because of guideline #2, these stories aren’t about authors “tooting their own horn” (which is fine in many contexts — but that simply isn’t the focus of this book). Sometimes, though, even while they were shining a spotlight on other people’s goodness, I couldn’t help but admire the authors themselves. This was definitely the case with Jerri Eddington’s story, “The Baby and the Bus Driver.”

In this piece, Jerri pays tribute to a bus driver who was particularly kind to her when she was a 19-year-old mother, traveling with her 10-day-old baby. She also expresses gratitude for her own mother, who babysat so Jerri could finish her university courses.

For those of you who are planning on reading this piece, I won’t give away any more “spoilers” — but I do want to talk about something that’s not the focus of the piece: Jerri’s dedication and perseverance in the face of challenges.

Yes, I was definitely moved by the account of Jerri’s mother and her bus driver, both of whom went out of their way to extend kindness and consideration while Jerri juggled motherhood, school, and the rest of her life. But I was even more inspired by the behind-the-scenes glimpse into Jerri’s past.

I’ve known Jerri for several years now, so I know she’s quite accomplished: After a 30-year career as a teacher and middle school principal, she became a bestselling author, healer, and Soul Success Coach who’s created programs and services to help people “lighten up and thrive.” She’s also a kind, caring, and wonderful human being.

But until reading her story, I never knew that her path to getting her bachelor’s degree (and later, her doctorate) and becoming a teacher (and later, principal) involved catching a 6:33 a.m. bus with her 10-day-old baby so that she could travel across town, drop her baby off with her mother, then turn around and take another bus to school in time for the 8:30 class that was required in order to qualify for student teaching.

Talk about dedication!

I have to remind myself that she was just a teenager then! It would have been so easy for her to throw her hands up in surrender, to give up her dream of becoming a teacher, or to simply delay it indefinitely (or at least until her own child was in school). And that would have been fine. She had a perfectly valid and true excuse.

But she didn’t want an excuse; she wanted an education. She wanted a career. She wanted to fulfill her dream.

And she did.

What a great example she set for her child. And what an inspiration she is to everyone who knows her or even just reads her story!

Even if your goals and dreams are very different from Jerri’s, isn’t it good to know that even major obstacles (such as needing to get up before sunrise to take care of a newborn, riding the bus for almost four hours per day, and taking a full load of university courses) doesn’t need to derail your dreams. And isn’t it good to know that when you pursue noble dreams wholeheartedly, good people will arise to support you every step (and every bus ride) along the way!

P.S. If you’d like to read Jerri’s entire piece — as well as 364 other true stories of loving kindness — please visit www.goodnessabounds.com to learn all about our new book and the 60+ bonus gifts you’ll receive if you order now.

Also, if you’d like to read more by authors on our blog tour, you can check out these posts from yesterday and today (and come back tomorrow for the ones scheduled for 11/16):

Nov 14
Nov 15
Nov 16

 

 

The Empowering Alternative to Nature vs. Nurture

Where do you stand on the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate?

What do you think makes us who we are: Is it the genes we inherit from our biological parents? Is it our environment and the way we’re raised? Or is it some combination of these factors — and, if so, which factor has the  biggest influence?

You could make a convincing argument for either position: On the Nature side, you’ve probably heard stories of twins raised separately who went on to live remarkably similar lives. On the Nurture side, you can clearly see the effect of environment and upbringing by observing how frequently people conform to expectations of the society/class and family in which they’re raised (or by watching Michael Apted’s Up Series).

It’s a fascinating debate, but as I’ve pondered this issue over the years, both sides have made me uncomfortable. I don’t want to think of myself as a blank slate, like a  lump of clay that’s molded by other people and external forces entirely beyond my control. But I also don’t want to think that my entire life is predetermined by some genetic code that was set in place before I was even born!

It wasn’t until I watched Oprah’s interview with happiness researcher Shawn Achor that I finally put my finger on what exactly made me uncomfortable about the nature-vs.-nurture debate: both sides are disempowering!

Whether your life is determined by genetics or environment, the same underlying premise holds true: You have no say in the matter! You’re not the master of your destiny! You don’t get to determine your own life!

(Or, as one t-shirt humorously — but depressingly — puts it: “Nature or Nurture…either way, it’s your parents’ fault!”)

But what’s the alternative?

Does this mean that we’re doomed to spend our lives like puppets, controlled by others? Not at all! To a very large extent, you can still determine the quality of your life, regardless of your genes and upbringing. The key can be summarized in a single word: FOCUS.

(The judges would also accept appreciation, and you’d probably get partial credit for variety.) 🙂

Focus on 40

This is not to say that nature and nurture don’t play a role in our lives. They do — quite a big one. In fact, researchers (including Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness) estimate that more than half of our happiness is determined by genetics and environment (with the emphasis on the former).

According to studies, approximately 50% of happiness is determined by genetics, while only about 10% is determined by external circumstances (such as significant gains or losses in our finances or romantic relationships).

Yes, these factors make up a lot of your life, but that still leaves a whopping 40% that’s within your control — determined by how you think and behave. And focusing on this 40% can make the difference between happiness and depression, success and failure, empowerment and disempowerment.

Serenity and Sanity

So, here are your options:

  1. You can worry yourself sick and drive yourself nuts fretting over all the things that aren’t within your control (including your genetics, your upbringing, the past, and all the externals beyond your sphere of influence).
  2. You can focus on the things that are within your control (such as appreciating what’s already in your life, trying interesting new activities, taking inspired action toward meaningful goals, and getting enough sleep).

As is so often the case, it all comes back to the Serenity Prayer: finding the serenity to accept the things you cannot change (such as your genetics and your past), the courage to change the things you can (such as what you focus on and how you focus on it), and the wisdom to know the difference.

And what a difference it is: it can mean the difference between a disempowered life spent stuck in the past, bemoaning the present, and worrying about the future vs. one in which each day offers new opportunities for joy and growth.

A Third Option

So, the next time you’re faced with that age-old debate of Nature vs. Nurture, remember that there’s a third option: you can focus on what is within your control, take steps to make that as positive as you can, and appreciate all of it!

4 Kinds of Dreams

book dreamsThere are four kinds of dreams. You’re probably already familiar with the first three:

  • Literal Dreams – the kind you have when you’re sleeping. (A fascinating topic, but not the focus of this post.)
  • Emerging Realities – the goals and visions that you’re actively working toward manifesting. (These are the “dreams that you dare to dream” that really do come true – works-in-progress where there’s actual progress!)
  • Pipe Dreams – far-fetched fantasies, unrealistic flights of fancy, or downright impossible dreams. (This is the kind of dream that, I believe, gives dreamers a bad name!)

But there’s a fourth kind of dream that’s rarely discussed…but often experienced: velleities.

Merriam-Webster defines velleity as “the lowest degree of volition” or “a wish or inclination that is so insignificant that a person feels little or no compulsion to act.” In some ways, a velleity is like a pipe dream – a wish that, on some level, the wisher knows isn’t likely to come true. (For instance, wishing you could quit your job, sell your house, and go live on Pluto is a pipe dream.) Unlike a pipe dream, however, a velleity IS possible and realistic…but only if the dreamer takes the steps to make it real!

Velleity is one of my favorite – and least favorite – words!

It’s one of my least favorites because I find it so depressing when people have beautiful dreams but never take the steps to make them come true – thereby depriving the world of what would have been a beautiful reality!

But velleity is also one of my favorite words because, aside from making a critical distinction between dreams that are unlikely to manifest and those that are already on their way, it also calls the dreamer’s bluff: Do you REALLY want this dream – enough to make it happen (or at least give it your best effort) – or is it just a velleity?

Because I’m a writer, I’ll use writing a book as an example of different kinds of dreams. (If you’re also a writer, you’ll probably be able to relate to this. If not, I’m sure you can still apply this idea to examples in your own areas of interest.)

If you say, “I’m going to write a 3,000-page epic trilogy that uses a multi-generational romance to trace the history of Europe during the middle ages…and I’m going to start and finish it by the end of this month, the world’s #1 publisher will release it next month, Oprah will recommend it a few weeks later, and it will sell 100 million copies by the end of the year,” it’s easy to tell what kind of dream this is: yes, a pipe dream. It’s completely absurd, wildly far-fetched, and downright impossible. In short, it ain’t gonna happen. You know it. Everyone knows it.

But what kind of dream is it if you say, “I’m going to write a 200-page book based on my personal experiences. It will be positive, uplifting, and as well written as I can make it. I’ll finish it by the end of next year, self-publish it, and market it to my ‘tribe’ through social-media, emails, and a variety of creative promotional techniques.” – is that an emerging reality or just a velleity? From the outside, it’s hard to tell. Only you can know for certain.

Sure, many people say they’d like to write and publish a book. And most of them actually mean it. But what some of them mean is, “It sure would be nice if I’d already written a book, but I don’t plan on putting in the time and effort to actually write one in the foreseeable future.” (In other words, for these people – those who are merely dreamers but not doers – this dream is just a velleity.)

But there are some people (dreamers who are also doers!) who actually plan on writing and finishing a book within the coming year (or whatever time frame feels realistic). How do you recognize these people – and how can you tell if you’re one? How can you tell if you’re “working on a dream” (to borrow Bruce Springsteen’s phrase) that’s actually going to come true, as opposed to merely entertaining a pipe dream or velleity?

You can start by asking yourself these four questions:

  • Can I “see” my completed dream? Do I know what it will look like (and feel like) when my dream comes true? Can I visualize it as an accomplished goal, or does that feel too far-fetched to even imagine?
  • Is my dream a work in progress? Am I already taking steps to achieve my dream (such as writing down ideas, outlining, or actively writing a book), or is this a dream deferred indefinitely?
  • Is it realistic? Do I have “SMART Goals” (that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound) or just some vague notion of wanting to accomplish something at some point?
  • Have I enlisted help? Even for an activity as seemingly solitary as writing, you still need some kind of support: such as from an editor, agent, publishing/marketing expert, or (at the VERY least) an accountability partner to keep you on track and moving toward your goal.

If you can answer YES to these questions, chances are, your dream is more than just a velleity or a pipe dream – it’s an emerging reality!

If not, however, I urge you to do whatever you need to do to turn your dream into an emerging reality. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Don’t die with your music inside you.” Well, please don’t die with your book inside you (or your paintings or your company or whatever your dream happens to be). And don’t put it off indefinitely, either!

I’ve been on both sides of the dream (with books and other areas): feeling the frustration of letting a dream stall, stagnate, atrophy, and disappear…and also knowing the satisfaction of watching my “emerging reality” emerge – holding my published book in my hand and knowing that my dream became a reality! And I can tell you unequivocally: the second option feels a whole lot better!

Whether your dream is to write a book or do anything else that’s important to you (and others), remember that your dream came to you for a reason: to make it come true. I sincerely hope you will.

Your Soulful Book - a heart-centered writing programP.S. If you’re like me and you do have a dream to write, publish, and market your own book within the coming year, I’d love to help! In fact, my wife and I (along with a team of experts in design, marketing, editing, and other related areas) have put together a year-long program to support you in making this dream a reality!

It’s called Your Soulful Book, and for this month only, you can sign up at a huge earlybird-special discount! To learn all about it, please visit www.yoursoulfulbook.com.

I hope you’ll join me and a supportive group of fellow authors in making 2018 the year you successfully write, finish, publish, and market your soulful book! Let’s make a deal that your beautiful dream will NOT be a mere pipe dream, a velleity, or a dream that disappears the moment you wake up – but an emerging reality…soon to be a bona fide dream come true!

Ego and Soul: Opponents or Partners?

I love to read for so many reasons: for inspiration, for education, and just for the fun of it! I read because it expands my world and introduces me to new people and new perspectives. I read, as C. S. Lewis said, “to know we are not alone.” And I read because, every now and then, an author takes a thought that I’d had, but hadn’t been able to put into words, and articulates it far more eloquently than I could’ve done. I recently had this experience (again and again and again) while reading Jodi Chapman’s new book, Soul Bursts.

I love so many things about this book (and not just because Jodi is my amazing wife!).  I love that it’s authentic, vulnerable, and uplifting. I love that it’s simple yet profound, personal yet universal. And I love that, as I read it, I found myself saying, Yes! THANK you! — not just once or twice, but on almost every single page — as she gave voice to so many important truths. Although I could choose from hundreds of examples, for this post, I’ll focus on just one sentence (from the chapter “What Do You Believe?”):

“I believe that the soul and the ego are in partnership rather than opposition.”

Thank you!

So often, I’ve read books that rail against the ego as if it were some demonic force sent to ruin all that’s good in the world — or a parasite living within you that must be contained (or, better yet, destroyed). Although I’m sure all those authors meant well and have some valid points, something about this underlying premise never quite sat right with me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…until Jodi did!

Once I started thinking of the soul and ego as partners, rather than opponents, it made perfect sense. Now, in fact, to see them any other way seems almost absurd. And once I started to see the soul and the ego as partners, I started thinking about almost everything this way! And why not? Think about it:

  • Are your eyes in opposition to your ears?
  • Are your hands in opposition to your feet?
  • Is what you eat in opposition to what you drink?
  • Is your car in opposition to your bicycle?

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point: the different parts of our lives — and ourselves — can work together as a team rather than working against each other.  In different situations, one part might take the lead or be more appropriate (such as using a car for traveling long distances and a bike for short distances, using your hands to type and your feet to walk, etc.). And sometimes they work in tandem as partners (such as enjoying a movie with your eyes and ears, or loving someone with your head and your heart).

The same goes for your body and spirit, your ego and your soul — they can be on the same team! They don’t have to be opponents, fighting each other to the death. You don’t have to choose one and reject the other. It’s not either/or. (At least, it doesn’t have to be!)

You can embrace your human side — including your physicality, your mind, and even your ego — while still living a deeply spiritual life guided by your soul. You can use the so-called “lower” parts of you — such as drive, ambition, and a sense of your individuality — in the service of (so-called) higher goals (such as uplifting others through art, charity, and compassionate service).

Think about it: Why would God/Nature create a part of you whose sole function was to thwart another part of you? I simply don’t believe it. To me, this would be as absurd as your body having lungs (for breathing) and “anti-lungs” (which made it harder to breathe…unless you renounced them). Of course, this is ludicrous. But I don’t believe it’s any more ludicrous than thinking that inherent parts of who we are — our thoughts and emotions, our hands and feet, or our ego and soul — are somehow designed to be pitted in eternal opposition.

Yes, if you believe that one part of you works against another, I’m sure you can turn this belief into a self-fulfilling prophecy — and experience this as your truth. But it’s not necessary! The different parts of you can fight against each other, but they can also complement one another in beautiful ways — working in alignment for your highest good.

And the implications can extend far beyond individuals — the same concept applies to possibilities for harmonious cooperation between people with different interests, professions, backgrounds, religions, or even nations. This shift in perspective can literally change your entire worldview…and the world!

So, within your own life, which way would you rather see it and experience it — fighting yourself every step of the way…or working as a harmonious team? It’s your choice.

Of course, everything I’ve written here is just a roundabout way of saying what Jodi put into a single short sentence: “I believe that the soul and the ego are in partnership rather than opposition.”

P.S. To learn all about Soul Bursts (and to see a preview of it), please visit www.jodichapman.com/soulbursts/.

Goes to Show, You Don’t Ever Know

Goes to show, you don't ever know

I recently experienced a frustrating — but ultimately eye-opening and heart-opening — situation with a company I’d contracted to do some work around my house. The situation was that they never showed up and never returned my calls…even after they’d been paid for the work.

Because they’re a reputable company, I wasn’t worried that they’d split the country with the money I’d already paid (a relatively small amount, fortunately); I was more just confused. I couldn’t help wondering: Didn’t they want the work?  Didn’t they want the rest of the money I would’ve paid them (if they would actually show up and do the job)? And, if this is their S.O.P., how do they stay in business?

After weeks of unanswered calls and unreturned voicemail messages, I managed to get ahold of the company’s owner, who assured me that a worker would be there in two days. I was hopeful but not optimistic, based on the company’s track record…and the fact that the owner was noticeably slurring her words on the phone.  I figured that her lack of responsiveness might have been because she was drunk or on drugs. But, regardless of the cause, at least we now had a verbal agreement and an appointment. (In theory.)

Anyway, two days came and went. No show. No word. No luck.

I can’t say that I was shocked, but I can say that I was livid. As I prepared to call once again, I had a few choice words in mind. When I reached her voicemail, though, I somehow managed to bite my tongue and reiterate the situation as politely but firmly as possible, urging her to call me back and rectify the matter as soon as possible.

Long story short: the very next day, a worker showed up and took care of everything.

But that wasn’t the eye-opening and heart-opening part of the situation. That happened when I asked the worker about the owner. Is she okay? He told me that, no, she’s not okay — she has a medical condition so severe that just a few months ago, she was pronounced medically dead…but was resuscitated (and managed not only to leave the hospital but resume work). He said that she’s very proud and doesn’t tell people about her condition and doesn’t like for it to keep her down. She’s tried her best to keep going, business as usual, despite her condition and the ongoing treatment for it.

Well, I put two and two together and figured that this was the reason for her slurred words, her very delayed response, and the confusion about appointments — presumably, side effects of the treatment.

In light of this new information, I was extremely glad that I bit my tongue and didn’t leave her a rude voicemail message (such as the one that I’d been mentally rehearsing). I would have felt even worse about her condition once I found out. And I would’ve felt like a jerk!

As it was, the experience did serve to remind me to give people the benefit of the doubt. After all, you don’t ever know what they’re going through on their end, regardless of how it looks from your perspective. And it reminded me to be sympathetic of others’ situations, even if — or especially because — you probably don’t know the whole story.

Fortunately, the woman is in the clear for now and seems to be on the mend. I’m praying that it won’t be too long before she has a clean bill of health.

As for me, hopefully I won’t find myself in a similar situation again. But if I do, next time around I’ll do more than just bite my tongue — I’ll open my heart.

I’ll Have What She’s Having

If you’ve ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, you undoubtedly remember the famous scene of Meg Ryan, um, “faking it” in the deli. (Even if you haven’t seen the movie, chances are you’ve seen this clip in one of the countless montages it’s featured in.) And, in either case, you also probably remember the “topper” line that closes the scene (delivered by the director’s mother, Estelle Reiner): “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Aside from its raunchy comedic value, this line offers great advice about relationships, business, and just about every other area of life: Rather than trying to push yourself (or your product, service, or anything else you might be trying to sell or advocate) on others, simply radiate an authentic, natural joy and love of life. Anyone in your vicinity will be drawn to you and your energy. They’ll want “what you’re having”!

This doesn’t mean that you should “fake it” (like Meg Ryan’s character or in any other way) or that you need to experience/exude orgasmic pleasure every moment of every day. It also doesn’t mean that you need to pretend that you have it all figured out, be at the pinnacle of your field, or be the ultimate “catch” in terms of a romantic relationship, business partnership, or any other area of life.

It simply means that if you are authentically filled with love, joy, personal fulfillment, and “YOU-ness,” this will naturally flow out into the world…and attract the kind of relationships (of all kinds) that you’d like to attract!

Remember, you are your always your own biggest testimonial — which can be positive, negative, or mixed depending on your energy and, most importantly, your LIFE! Your life is “Exhibit A” of how desirable (or not) whatever you’re promoting is.

If you are consistently negative, desperate, or miserable, most people are not going to want “what you’re having”! On the other hand, if you’re the embodiment of the qualities that people are seeking, they’re going to be drawn to you.

To give a somewhat superficial (but widely applicable) example: Many years ago, a woman tried to sell me a special brush designed to make your hair thicker. (At the time, I had thick, wavy hair that reached halfway down my back, so I’m not sure why she thought I might need this product, but that’s beside the point.) In any case, she was very pleasant and spent a good deal of time with me, explaining how this miracle brush worked (something to do with magnetic bristles, if I remember correctly) and the positive results it could produce.

Her explanation and sales pitch sounded great, but there was just one problem: The woman was nearly bald — with only a smattering of wispy tufts barely covering her scalp. As nice as this woman was, whatever she was doing — with the comb or anything else — clearly wasn’t helping much in this area. Needless to say, I did not “want what she was having” in the ‘do department.

Chances are, you’re not in the miracle-comb business, but you can apply this same principle to almost anything you do (or want to do):

  • If you’re a life coach, is your own life an example of what your clients might want?
  • If you’re a fitness trainer, nutritionist, or holistic doctor, are you healthy?
  • If you’re a teacher, do you excel in the area you teach?
  • If you’re looking for a loving, joyful relationship, do you exude love and joy?

In other words, are you living in such a way — personally and professionally — that others would want “what you’re having”?

By embodying what you and your potential clients or partners desire, you do yourself a couple of favors: First of all, you simply feel better. (Even if it didn’t lead to anything else, wouldn’t you just rather be radiant?) Also, this approach means that you don’t have to “sell” in the traditional sense. You don’t have to convince someone to want what you’re having. You simply live your life — enjoying your health, happiness, and success — and let the Law of Attraction connect you with the people who naturally gravitate to your energy.

I’ve found that it’s so much easier to live your life and conduct your business this way. You don’t have to be pushy or salesy or (like Meg Ryan’s “Sally” character) cause a scene. You just have to be you.

What are elements of YOU and your life that might attract others or make them say, “I’ll have what (s)he’s having”?

P.S. This piece is adapted from Manifesting Soulful Love — available now as a pick-your-price ecourse on DailyOM.com. Click here to learn more.

Manifesting Soulful Love

What’s Next?

Have you ever experienced (or witnessed) any of these scenarios?:

  • You just got married, and people immediately start asking you when you’re going to have kids.
  • You just experienced a loss or setback, and people immediately start trying to “help” you move forward.
  • You just finished a major project, and people immediately start asking you what you’re going to do next.
  • You watch a sports team celebrate winning the championship, and a reporter asks about their plans for next season.

In these situations (or any similar ones), the questions all boil down to the same essence: What’s next?

What’s next on the agenda? What are you going to do next? Where are you going to go next? Who are you going to date next? How are you going to get out of the “hole” you’re in or build on the success you’ve experienced? What’s the next step?

And all of these questions boil down to this: How soon can you escape the present moment?

The people asking these questions (which can also come from that nagging voice in the back of your own mind) are probably very well intentioned (or, at the very least, innocuously curious). Still, I find this line of questioning to be extremely annoying. It just makes me want to shout: “DUDE! This just happened! Would you let me be where I am for five minutes? Can’t I just celebrate, grieve, or experience whatever I’m experiencing right now?”

It makes me feel like a restaurant’s staff is trying to rush me away from my table and out the door while I’m still in the middle of my entrée.

Aside from simply being annoying, it feels like the embodiment of a modern (or perhaps age-old) tendency to want to escape the here-and-now, whether that reality is painful or pleasant. It’s a mindset that never lets you be where you are, cherish the moment, feel your feelings, and fully experience your life. It’s a mindset that says, “Let’s get out of here…fast!”

But the irony is that this what’s-next approach doesn’t necessarily hasten the next step; it simply robs you of the one you’re on. You don’t need to rush things — life will flow, and you will naturally arrive at the next step simply by living. A new idea will come to you, you’ll feel inspired to take action, you’ll figure your way out of a problem, or time will simply heal your wounds and allow you to move on.

Now, I’m all in favor of planning, dreaming, and even preparing for the future — but not at the expense of experiencing the present. Not to the exclusion of living your life in the here and now. And certainly not to the extent that it robs you of all present-time joy, sorrow, or whatever else you’re experiencing.

Sure, by always looking a mile (or more) down the road, you may feel like you’re staying a step ahead — and, in a way, you are — but you’re missing the step you’re on. By focusing on the future, you may feel like you’re preparing yourself for what’s next, but you miss the only place where life truly happens: NOW.

And, besides, the imagined future that you’re “preparing” for may never come to pass — or it may arrive in a very different form than you’d imagined. Or, even if it looks more or less the way you thought it would, when it does arrive, you might be too focused on what’s next after that to really experience it.

On the other hand, when you allow yourself to fully experience the here-and-now — feeling it all without trying to run away — you’ll naturally allow yourself to take in all the joy, learn all the lessons, heal all the hurt, and be present for your own life. And when the time comes and “what’s next” becomes “what’s now,” you’ll be good and ready.

And you’ll really be there.

P.S. There’s still space available in our upcoming collaborative book, Goodness Abounds: 365 True Stories of Loving Kindness, but spots are filling up — so if you’d like to be part of this book (which will be the last one in our bestselling 365 Book Series until at least 2019), this is the perfect time to join us. Please click here or visit www.goodnessabounds.com to learn more.

Goodness Abounds