Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shake It Off

Earlier this morning, I took my dog, Thor, out for a walk. The snow was coming down heavily adding to the twelve inches that fell a few days ago.  

As we walked along, enjoying the beauty of the fluffy white coating everywhere I looked, I noticed that every few minutes Thor would shake off the snow that had accumulated on his brown burled coat. Since I'm usually opened to be inspired by a metaphor, this noticing was no exception. 

What struck me was that most humans tend to not shake off what bothers them very easily.  We tend to carry the struggles that have accumulated in our lives as if they are badges of honor rather than letting them go once they've passed. I suppose holding memories may not necessarily be harmful, but if we stay focused on how we have been victimized, or hurt or suffered in some way, we prolong the hurt and suffering, like opening up an old wound over and over again. 

If we tended to shake off whatever accumulates in our lives, like Thor shakes off the snow, it seems we would find ourselves walking a more comfortable path that would keep us focused on appreciating where we are in the present moment and looking forward to where we're headed. 

An amusing ending to this story is when we returned home and I walked passed a mirror, I noticed two inches of snow accumulated on top of my hat. Perhaps if I was more aware, I would have shaken it off earlier. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Enemy of Peace

The older I become, the more committed I am to living in a state of peace. By peace, I mean inner peace, since I have little to no control over the war and chaos that is present around me.

Perhaps my growing commitment is due to the realization that I don't have an endless amount of time to get my life on track and to live and feel the way I choose, which is peacefully and joyfully. At any rate, I am not willing to delay living in peace, waiting for chaos around me to cease.

When I watch the news and see the exploitation of the weak and innocent, the insanity of wars between countries over borders and the violence that occurs everywhere, I am reminded how fragile we all are living in this world. 

I read about innocent people gunned down in shopping malls and schools. 

I hear accounts of illness, accidents and debilitating injuries that occur daily, affecting countless people of all ages. 

There are plane and car crashes, oil spills, forest fires, hurricanes and tornadoes that  dramatically change lives in an instant. 

With all of the potential calamities and disasters that can possibly occur in our lifetimes, it may seem impossible to experience inner peace. After all, we're human. The enemy of peace, which is fear, seems normal and is simply a natural part of life. 

I believe peace is what is actually natural. 

Although my view may not be shared by everyone, I refuse to get caught up in mini wars in my own life, knowing that many of the potential battles that exist will not bring me peace in the end. I can still be in peace even if you disagree. 

There is a simple habit I have developed that keeps me in a peaceful state (at least, most of the time), and that is to remember to stay in the present moment, rather than fast forward my mind to the future, where fears can grow at warp speed and my peace can evaporate at the same pace. 

Since there are no guarantees in this life that we will live out our years here on earth, unharmed and intact, accepting the possibilities, without dwelling on them is the first step. 

If we are living our lives in a state of gratitude and appreciation for the simple things, like being able to go to our refrigerator and reach for a drink or food whenever we want it, makes that moment feel different than it would if we were worrying about how high food prices will be the next time we shop. 

Fear changes nothing for the better. In contrast, it robs us of peace right now. 

If you are wondering at this point, how one can live in peace when the unthinkable actually does happen, my response is simple. . . accept, rather than resist whatever it may be. Of course, if there is something you can do to change any negative event, get into action, do it and fast. If, however, you cannot change the circumstances, then the only alternative is to accept it. Accept that it has happened as well as how you feel. Resisting the truth of "what is" (including possibly your own grief), only delays peace. Allowing life to continue to flow also allows you to be at peace with whatever "is" in any given moment. 

In one of my keynotes, The Art of Joyful Living, I emphasize how any new skill or art takes practice. I encourage anyone that finds the concept of living in a peaceful state of mind (regardless of circumstances), appealing, to notice what you think about most of the time.....your current situation, or the fear of what may possibly happen at some point in the future. 

Since you only truly have this moment, NOW, I encourage you to step into it, feel it, and enjoy the peace that is always waiting for you there. Eventually, with practice, fear will eventually loosen it's grip, allowing peace to simply be

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Joy of Being Sixty

                                                        Princess of Joyful Leadership

Today is my 60th birthday and I must say it has been painless. . . in fact, contrary to a general social consensus that joy is only for the young, the start of my seventh decade of life has been a fun ride so far and I fully intend to allow that to continue. 

Those that know me well, will not be surprised. I get teased regularly about my positive outlook on life, even when things look grim. Sometimes, I am accused of burying my head in the sand, since to my accusers, it seems impossible to be joyful when there are so many things occurring in today's world that should make me angry and fearful. 

Some believe I never feel sad, scared or anxious. None of those things are true either. I do. I just don't linger there longer than I need to. I meet my feelings (whatever they are) with curiosity and take a close look at the fears that lurk under any negative feelings. Once I look, I am reminded that I can meet whatever shows up. There is nothing that has occurred in my life thus far that I have not survived. That little nugget is true for all of us. We are still here, so we survived. The road we traveled to this present point in time can be filled with drama, resistance, blame and anger, or it can be lined with love, appreciation, acceptance and compassion. I generally spend most of my time on the latter road. It feels better to travel there and I am actually in better shape to effectively meet whatever challenge or obstacle that shows up when I don't get hooked by the negative elements surrounding it. 

This momentous, decade changing birthday is an opportunity to renew the commitment to myself to enjoy every day, unconditionally. The unconditional part can be a sticky point, but it is imperative in living a joyful life, remembering that peace is the flip side of the joy coin, and finding peace with whatever shows up is a must. 

Who knows how many hours, days or years are left for any of us? I, for one, am not willing to waste any time on living any of it on complaining, hating, resisting, judging or lamenting any difficulties that come my way. I have dabbled in those experiences in earlier decades and have not found them to be effective in making anything better, and they certainly don't create joy. 

The commitment I make to myself on this momentous day is to be grateful for every day, to express love rather than disappointment, to enjoy what is, rather than complain about what isn't, to stand for the good I believe in, rather than hate the bad that threatens it. 

So, I say bring it on, Sixth Decade....I'm ready! You will not change my mind since it is my thoughts that are the only things over which I have control. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Constitutional Conversations

As I listened to the NPR news this morning, the headline story was about the Supreme Court beginning it's arguments on the sweeping health care law. Although I have strong opinions about health care, what really caught my attention was the word arguments.  

When I hear the word argument, I picture two or more people, red-faced with pumping fists, speaking with loud voices, attempting to prove their point and not listening to the others. 

It seems to me that if the Supreme court Justices were expected to have a Constitutional conversation where they can listen, share and eventually collaborate, would make it much more likely that the best and just decision could be made. 

Arguing humans are not usually at their best. When we argue, we're afraid of being misunderstood, overlooked, misused or abused. The key emotion that can be present  here is fear. When we are afraid, we are defensive and sometimes even feel the need to attack. Our words and actions don't always make sense, but that doesn't matter if our need to be right is what we're fighting for. When we argue our need to win or be right seems to outshine the need to be fair or just.

On the other hand, when a conversation is taking place, all parties are more likely to not be in a defensive mode. Openness to hearing all of the facts, being fair, respectful and collaborative are qualities that can be seen when one is not in the state of fear that arguments can create. 

The bottom line on this topic is that it seems our government and society is set up to argue, debate and fight to get it's way. The side with the largest number of supporters wins. 

Unfortunately, as this mode of fearful exchanges continue within our society (including our elected officials), we miss the opportunity to really understand what our opponents are saying or to be truly heard ourselves. 

The end result of most arguments is that no one wins. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Attitude Closet

In the gap of time between slumber and becoming fully conscious this morning, a picture floated through my mind. It was of a closet that contained attitudes. I pictured myself opening a door, and seeing attitudes in the form of cloaks hanging on hangers. Since my day was about to begin, it was time to choose an attitude I would want to wear for the next sixteen hours or so.

The choices for attitudes included, optimism, fear, joy, revenge, gratitude, and love. 

With the zeal of an energetic shopper looking for the best deal, my first choice to try on was optimism. It felt good to be wrapped in optimism. I felt safe and hopeful, believing good things would be happening to me if I chose it. 

The cloak of fear was intriguing, so I reached out to feel the fabric. It was sticky, much like tar, which gave me concern that I might not be able to get it off if I tried it on. Thankfully, I had a choice, so I continued to shop for an attitude that would be comfortable to wear all day.

The attitude of joy sparkled, making it very appealing. It seemed to have a life of it's own since it swayed on the hanger. When I tried on the cloak of joy, I automatically began to dance. The longer I wore it, the more joy I felt. Reluctantly, I put it back to try something else.

Next, I tried on revenge, mainly because it intrigued me. There was a mystique about it, as if it was promising something sweet. On closer inspection, this was a dark cloak that felt prickly, like steel wool without a lining. It was also extra large so it wrapped around my body twice, keeping my arms trapped underneath. My mobility was limited. I couldn't wait to take it off. It was obvious that revenge restricted me from freedom and wasn't comfortable to wear. Since I prefer to be comfortable and to feel good, I continued my search.

My next choice was the attitude of loving. This one felt weightless. As I looked closely, I could see this version was lined with joy and had pockets made of gratitude. I was able to move easily, without tripping over it as I glided along the floor of my mind. I felt free and at my best. It was a good fit for me. 

There was no need to search any further. I chose the attitude of love and must say it fits me well. So far, it has been a lovely day wearing love. 

What attitude have you chosen? How does it feel? If it isn't comfortable, you may want to take it back. I understand the Closet of Attitude will take returns and does exchanges with no questions asked.