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Friday, April 29, 2011

Happiness & Our Relationships: The Grant Study at Harvard

The Atlantic Monthly recently published an article about happiness: What Makes Us Happy by Joshua Wolf Shenk. The article is based on a longitudinal study effected by Harvard covering the lives of 268 young men who entered the university in the late 30's for over seventy years, in order to study their health and well-being over the decades.

The longtime director of the study, George Vaillant, was mainly interested in how these men responded to difficulties that they encountered in their lives, but he was well aware that a mere glimpse into an individual's life was not enough, as it can be "deeply misleading". What is true of a man's reactions to life at age 20 is not necessarily true thirty years later.

Vaillant has written extensively about many of the men in the study (anonymously), and Joshua Shenk, the author of this article, recounts Vallaint's take on one in particular. Vallaint presented him "as an exemplar of how mature adaptations are a real-life alchemy, a way of turning the dross of emotional crises, pain, and deprivation into the gold of human connection, accomplishment, and creativity. ´Such mechanisms are analogous to the involuntary grace by which an oyster, coping with an irritating grain of sand, creates a pearl,´ he writes. ´Humans, too, when confronted with irritants, engage in unconscious but often creative behavior.´"

By the time the members of the study were reaching retirement, Vaillant identified "seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically."
  • employing mature adaptations
  • education
  • stable marriage
  • not smoking
  • not abusing alcohol
  • exercise
  • healthy weight
Vaillant concluded that in order to reach the age of 80 in a good place, five or six of these factors had to be in place at age 50. Of the men who only had 3 or 4 of these factors in place at age 50, none reached the age of 80 in a good place.

One of Vaillant's main interests was the power of relationships. "It is social aptitude, not intellectual brilliance or parental social class, that leads to successful aging." When asked what he had learned from the men in the Harvard study, he responded: "the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people."

The article is enormously interesting and goes into great detail about the study. Read the entire article here.

You can also watch George Vaillant here on this 6-minute video talking about Harvard's enormously fascinating study of 268 men for over 70 years.

In it he says a number of things I wanted to enumerate:
  • Aging is a lot less scary than people think it is
  • The take home lesson is always to enjoy where you are now (I repeat: enjoy where you are now)
  • Playing and loving and working is what is important
  • Loving is probably the most important
  • Happiness is love

    If you have difficulties viewing the video, click here to see it at the original website.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughts Do Change Our Bodies

Thoughts do change our bodies.

We used to receive this information only through metaphysical sources that referred to concepts contained in "as a man thinks", or "what you see you shall become" (Gospel of Philip), whether they pointed us to the Gnostic Gospels (admirably discussed by religious historian Elaine Pagels), or James Allen and his now (thanks to movies such as What The Bleep Do We Know? or The Secret) ultra-famous book As A Man Thinketh (easily - and legally - available as a free download ... contact me).

Thoughts do change our bodies.

Now we receive this information from cellular and molecular biologists, from Ph.D.'s in keynote addresses at psychology symposia in hallowed Ivy League halls, from DNA experimentation by the American military, from international neuroscientists, from a Japanese scientist who studies water crystals, and from a plethora of others.

Thoughts do change our bodies.

Candace Pert, molecular biologist, wrote The Molecules of Emotion, in which she pioneered the body-mind concept. (Her work of over several decades is based on how the bodymind functions as a single psychosomatic network of information molecules which control our health and physiology. She also offers an excellent CD titled Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind.) Do you remember how laughable many thought this was only in the 80's? How far we have come in accepting PNI (psycho-neuro-immunology), the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body, which has led us to understand, among others, the connection between stress - thoughts - and the potential future appearance of cancer in the body!

Thoughts do change our bodies.

Bruce Lipton, cellular biologist, wrote The Biology of Belief and has also produced the audio CD The Wisdom of Your Cells: How Your Beliefs Control Your Biology. In its review of Lipton, Amazon writes: “His experiments, and those of other leading-edge scientists, have examined in great detail the processes by which cells receive information. The implications of this research radically change our understanding of life. It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology; that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.”

This concept is precisely what I heard at Harvard in 2003, while listening to a keynote address at a conference about developmental psychology. Dr. Elaine Bearer stated that it was now (nearly 5 years ago) possible to demonstrate that everything we think, feel, and do has the capacity to change our DNA. Think of the implications of this…and think, therefore, how important it is to develop the capacity to choose what we think, feel, and do. To know that we always have a choice. And that in making this choice – from among all possible alternatives – we literally contribute to our well-being (or not) on all levels: physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Thoughts do change our bodies.

In Japan, scientist Masaru Emoto wrote The Hidden Message in Water. Describing this book and the author's work, Amazon.com notes: “Using high-speed photography, Dr. Masaru Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them. He found that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors. The implications of this research create a new awareness of how we can positively impact the earth and our personal health.”

Also see this great article about Masaru Emoto by Life Enthusiast, or watch this video showing crystals affected by thoughts and words, or watch this video of an interview with Dr. Emoto.

Thoughts do change our bodies.

Muscle Testing (applied kinesiology), long a tool used in alternative treatments, essentially allows one person to test another person's response to anything, whether this is a thought (true or false), or the beneficial or detrimental effect something (for example food or medicine or treatment) may have on the other person. Much has been written about the subject of muscle testing by authors too numerous to mention since its appearance in the 60's as used by American chiropractor Dr. George Goodheart. However, if you want to read something truly interesting about the subject, have a look at David R. Hawkins' books, in particular, Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior

Thoughts do change our bodies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where is Your Attention?

Consider where your attention tends to be during your day. Obviously part of your attention is on the things you must do. Get up, exercise (I hope), shower, eat breakfast, drive to work, work, have lunch, more work, drive home, have dinner, do household chores, watch TV, go to bed.

I am aware of the fact that the day I have portrayed sounds abominable for its lack of anything at all in it to redeem it (maybe the food? the scenery on the drive to work? maybe you enjoy the exercise?) ... but in a nutshell, that is, in fact, what many people's Monday - Friday lives boil down to. (And if the Monday to Friday is not good, the probability that the weekend will be better is not great, or even if it is, it may be plagued with headaches, backaches, etc., trying to call your attention to the fact that you need to change something about your life). Add in a spouse or live-in partner, factor in some kids, parents-in-law or other relatives, add in night studying to prepare yourself for greater ease in the job market, and the daily routine becomes even more congested with elements that may not give you great joy (or, if you've become more aware, perhaps they do).

So here's the thing: in this day of yours, where is your attention?
  • Is it on the fact that you don't like your day?
  • Or is it on the fact that you find your day mind-numbingly routine?
  • Or is it on the fact that you don't like your job?
  • Or the commute to work?
  • Or that you find your car embarrassing?
  • Or that you are so tired because you didn't get enough sleep?
  • Or that you are dreading the presentation you have to give at the meeting at work today?
  • Or that you find your colleagues stultifying?
  • Or that you are worried because your doctor told you that you will have to cut down on the cholesterol?
  • Or that you need to exercise and never seem to find the time?
So let's assume that your attention is on some of those points, or others of a similar nature. Now what happens to your energy while your attention is there? After all, attention in that place means that your attention is in a negative place, and therefore your energy can't possibly be high. And apart from the fact that when your inner energy, the frequency at which you are vibrating inside of you, is low, due to the place where your attention is, things like your immune systems are implied, and so it would be easier, for example, for you to catch a cold, or the swine flu, it also means that what your are sending out there for yourself in the world, can't possibly reflect anything positive back to you.

So it's very important to catch yourself in the act of having your attention on the wrong things. You can do that more easily by paying attention to the way you feel. When you realize you are low on that vibratory scale (which right now may be most of the time), you know that you have to do something about it. And one of the things to do, is to re-focus, focus on something else, something that gives you pleasure, something that excites you.

So here you are in the car thinking about the dreariness of your commute, and you can focus on the brilliance of the blue sky. Or you can focus on what you are planning to do so that the commute will soon be a thing of the past (as in re-engineering your life so that you can find a different job), or you can daydream for a bit, by focusing on something that suffuses you with pleasure, such as, for example, sailing around the world on a sailboat, or re-tracing Marco Polo's Silk Road in a Jeep. The possibilities are endless, and it is - of course - up to you to come up with some scenarios that will give you pleasure, but in so doing, you change the energy of your self, and once that is done, it will be easier for you to focus on the here and now with a new outlook.
Pay attention to where you attention is and you may change your life.

For more ideas about this, read some of my (many) earlier posts on energy.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Doubt Your Limitations

I love this concept ... doubt your limitations!

This afternoon a friend mentioned the recession to me. His tone was low, he sounded defeated (and he is in fact, in quite a good position financially). When I encouraged him to speak differently, he admonished me, saying that it is not responsible to not consider the difficulties this recession brings to so many on an ongoing basis.

I begged to differ, arguing that concentrating on all these negative thoughts, brought no one any good.
  • Being responsible has nothing to do with thinking dire thoughts about the potentially dire things that could happen.
  • Being responsible does have much to do with taking responsibility for every moment of every day.
  • Being responsible also has much to do with understanding that your inner well-being depends on what you do with your emotions and your thoughts.
  • Being responsible further has much to do with recognizing that even when you are in dire circumstances (e.g., cancer diagnosis, bankruptcy, your daughter is an addict, a hurricane is on the way to your city, etc.), you are not being more responsible by spending more time thinking about the dire circumstance. Being responsible means doing your due diligence, brain storming, trying to find solutions, but then letting the matter be until the next day precisely in order that you may re-encounter a healthy measure of inner equilibrium.
If your thoughts go to your limitations, and the limitations of your circumstances (currently for many the recession), then you will most certainly not be creating inner well being. If your thoughts go towards doubting your limitations, realizing that the limits you have heretofore set on your life (professionally, socially, financially, emotionally, spiritually, geographically, physically, etc.) you are on the road to departing from your comfort zone, to growth, to expansion, and to thinking out of the box. That is being responsible.

Therefore: doubt your limitations.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anger Is Like Drinking Poison & Expecting the "Other" Person to Die

What is anger?

Among other things, it's a very negative emotion inside of you which is generally (but not always) about someone or something outside of you ... for whatever reason. In theory, what you want, is for the other person to pay in some fashion, for something they have done or said, or not done or not said.

As you get angry, heat may suffuse your body, you may find it hard to think, your vision may blur momentarily, your heart beat may increase, your fists may ball, acid may accumulate in your stomach, your mouth may feel dry ... in other words, you may experience one or more uncomfortable physical sensations to go along with your already uncomfortable emotional sensations.

So we might say that as you have allowed yourself to become angry, you've taken a drink of figurative poison ... but you want the poison to have an effect on the other person.

Kind of silly, isn't it? Why would you drink poison if you wanted it to affect someone else? So why not consider the words of the paragraph before this one ... as you have allowed yourself to become angry ... because the fact is that you have allowed the anger. I don't mean the first flash of it ... that may have been involuntary ... but from that point on, you fan the flame, you continue to drink from the poisonous glass ... and that is indeed your choice that you can do something about. Not by pretending the anger is not there, but by choosing to look elsewhere, by refusing to allow your anger to control you, by choosing to go back to a place within yourself where you can feel better than this momentary flare of anger would allow you to ... all of this can be your choice.

So, look at your intention: do you choose to drink poison, or do you choose to look at your alternatives? And then, from that place of conscious awareness, do you choose to make new - and better - choices. Remember, if your anger is controlled by something outside of you, then you are controlled by something or someone else.

Photo: The Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Friday, April 22, 2011

Investing in Cemeteries

It's not something you're likely to do any time in the near future, is it? Who wants to invest in cemeteries? Sure, we use them a lot, but invest in them?

So here's what you do in fact do: you spend a lot of time in your dead history. That's like investing in cemeteries. You live in those moments of your past that caused you pain of some kind, because you are still invested in them. For some reason you still feel you get a payback by going to those past events, and particularly by going to those past painful emotions. In some sense, you have fashioned your identity by building on the pain that was created in you during those past events. You are still invested in them.

Would you not prefer to invest in the present, in order to create a better future? You can do so by deliberately choosing to leave the past behind. What makes it so difficult for so many people is not leaving the past behind, but choosing to do so.

Make that choice today. For yourself, for your family, and above all, for the future that will arise from this choice as opposed to the future that would have arisen if you did not make that choice.

Tomorrow is built on today and if your present moments are filled with investments whose dividends arise from painful memories, that cause pain right into the present, then your future will be painted in those colors.

Decide to choose differently.

Related Articles:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You've Got Mail ... It's From Your Body

Our bodies offer us information all the time. Like I stubbed my toe (walk more carefully), or I burned my finger (light the candles with a longer match), or I'm out of breath (walk a bit more slowly), or my head hurts (put on those sunglasses), or I've got a toothache (go to the dentist and stop eating so many sweets).

We all know those messages from our body, and tend to pay attention to them, because a direct physical consequence - something that is making us uncomfortable - results if we don't take care of the message.

And yet, our bodies, in their infinite wisdom, send us so many more messages that are potentially far more important, with potentially much further-reaching consequences, that we frequently pay little attention to.

Check out these examples (the words in parentheses are merely possibilities ... under no circumstances am I saying that these are always underlying the symptom):
  • stiff neck (tension, anger, inflexibility)
  • aching lower back (stress, worry, fear)
  • headache (stress, worry, heart pain, fear)
  • burning sensation in the gut (anger, stress)
  • high blood pressure (stress, tension, underlying overwork)
  • constipation (unhealthy life style - on many levels, inflexibility)
  • lack of enthusiasm, lack of physical energy (unhealthy life style - on many levels)
  • insomnia (worry, stress, emotional pain, anger, etc.)
In all of these examples (and many more I have not enumerated), of course we tend to do something about the symptom, such as go to a doctor, or chiropractor, or physiotherapist, etc., but we tend not to do anything about the underlying causes.

We pay no attention to the email we've just received from our body. And the email we receive from our body in this way, is similar to the first letter the bank writes you, when you are late in paying the mortgage. They are encouraging you to look for a solution. But if you pay no attention, more letters will follow, each one with a nastier underlying message, until finally, if you are still not doing anything about it, you lose your house.

Our bodies are wise ... sometimes I think they are so much wiser than we are despite all of the use we give our so-called rational brain (and if you are interested in the brain, look at my article about the other brains we have in our bodies ... scientists have determined this ... fascinating information for us to make good use of ... see Introducing Our Second and Third Brains: We Do Think With Our Heart and Instinct). So the wisdom of our bodies sends us these little messages that we are meant to pay attention to. Our bodies are giving us information in plenty of time, so that we can change something about the way we go about our lives, so that we can change something about the way we deal with our emotions, in order that we can catch the problem long before it becomes dangerous.

But what do we do? We tend to try to fix the outer symptom, without looking at the underlying causes. If there is a crack in a major holding wall in my house, it is possible that the problem is only in the wall. But it is also possible that the problem is structural in a much more important way than the mere observation of the crack might tell us.

And so it is with our bodies. Think of the number of times you have heard of studies that indicate the people who have died of heart problems had problems of love in their lives. Perhaps a difficult situation with the family, with the children, and so on. Or how about the number of times we have all read about the fact that cancer begins with stress. Hello? Stress? Yes ... just look at some of the studies that psycho-neuroimmunology (PNI) has come up with about this subject ... and remember that emotional pain of the type that causes bitterness and resentment also has been shown to bring on cancer.

See these articles about the general topic of letting the past go and dealing with painful emotions:
So back to our bodies:

Can you imagine that heart burn might not only have to do with having eaten something that does not agree with you, but also have to do with anger or emotional pain? And that if you don't decide to look at the underlying causes, and only treat the outer symptoms, it might lead you to a place where more important aspects of your health might be involved?

And heartburn is only one example. I could refer to many others, such as nausea (you might be nauseous because you spend time with a person who continually transgresses your boundaries (check out some previous posts about boundaries), or someone who frequently hurts you emotionally, perhaps by being emotionally unavailable (see Emotional Unavailability: An Introduction). If these situations are not dealt with by you ... perhaps by looking at yourself to figure our why you allow such behavior ... you may need to deal with them in a very physical way some years hence ... so the little email from your body in the guise of nausea is hugely valuable.

Check your mail frequently ... regard it as a gift, as you would regard mail from someone you love very much. Think of it in that way, and start paying attention to the messages.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You Are Here to be Happy!

If the title of this post has caught you by surprise, I am going to assume that you thought otherwise ... that you thought that you are not necessarily here to be happy ... or at least, if that is part of the deal, it comes way down on the list, and not at the top.

We've all been told about the Puritan work ethic (see also The Puritan Work Ethic, Wu-Wei, and Is Life Really Meant to be a Struggle?, many of us were raised within the confines of institutional religion, where we are generally taught to not think of ourselves, but of others (and therefore, by deduction, our happiness (see also Intentional Focus, Your Happiness, Your Success and the Law of Attraction) does not come very near the top of the list), most of us have been socialized over the course of our tender years into learning that being selfless is desirable.

But there is a huge difference between being selfish and loving the self enough in order to want to be in a good place inside, to be happy, to have a high energetic frequency, so that life is good, or better said, so that, even when things are not good, one is in a place where one can choose to deal with the stuff that is not so good, or even very bad (see Victor Frankl's "Man's Search For Meaning") in a way that allows one to maintain an inner equilibrium which, while it may not be happiness, is, nevertheless, a place where one can live in peace, despite those outer circumstances.

So this subject of selfishness and love of self is very important for us to understand. I've written quite a bit about it in the past:
This is so important to understand because the better off you are inside yourself, which in a sense is tantamount to saying that the better - even the happier - you feel inside yourself, by choice, and not only because today happens to be a good day, and that inner choice that you make has a lot to do with your inner strength and your belief in yourself and your capacity to stand strong and be well no matter what - so the better off you are inside yourself, the better you are for all those who surround you.

I write a lot about the ripple effect of your life on the life of those who surround you, and I do so because that is precisely the reason why being filled with self love is totally contrary to being selfish. Those who truly love themselves are capable of much greater giving, and can have a much greater positive influence on others, than those who selflessly give and give but who leave their own well-being out of the equation, or at best, it comes way down there somewhere on the list of priorities.

Self love is healthy. And being healthy emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically brings you closer to happiness - and much more quickly - than anything I am aware of. You are here to be happy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Steps to Take When Pain Overwhelms You

Going through one of life's painful moments is undoubtedly always difficult. But we tend to make it more difficult because of the way we go about it.

The inner dialogue is often made up of precisely those elements that simply make it worse. And of course at times like that we are generally not particularly aware of the inner dialogue, so we go around and around the circle of pain, with no end, until inevitably time dulls some of it.

But it does not have to be quite like that. While it is true that some types of pain require time, and require healing and require closure, it is just as true that while we are in that process of letting time go by and healing and achieving closure, we can be having an inner dialogue that simply magnifies the pain, and hence makes it last longer, or we can be having an inner dialogue that allows us to choose much of how we experience the pain, and in so doing, allows us to deal with it in another fashion.

We may blindly tell ourselves things like:
  • Why me?
  • These things only happen to me...
  • I'll never get over this
  • I can't bear this pain
  • I can't live without ____________
  • Other people's lives are so easy compared to mine
  • I can't live like this
  • I'll never forgive _____________
  • No one cares how much I am suffering
  • No one understands how much I am suffering
But in blindly telling ourselves things like that, we are focusing on the eye of the storm, while hurricane-strength winds blow around us, but we have lost total sight of what goes on beyond the storm.
What I'm saying is that by remaining in a place inside of ourselves where we can maintain a sense of perspective about our pain (even in the worst of it), almost as though we were observing it from outside, at least in order to remember that there is life beyond the pain, by doing this, we give ourselves a much better chance of moving beyond the pain in a much healthier way than if we do not.

When you were a child and fell from your bicycle and skinned your knee, you may have cried or sobbed as the blood flowed from the wound, and your mother cleaned the dirt from it. She may then have attempted to distract you from the pain by giving you a cookie or a piece of chocolate, or allowing you to watch a special show on TV. Doing so did not take the pain away, but it accomplished a number of things:
  • you learned the value of loving support; the support of your mother who cared for your wound and put a bandaid on it (find some support now - preferably loving - to help you with your current pain)
  • you learned the value of distraction to gain perspective (your current distraction might be going to church to pray, it might be re-reading a favorite book of poems, it might be listening to a Greek aria, or it might be going for a walk)
  • you learned that in gaining perspective, the pain didn't go away, but somehow it began to lessen (even as your current pain burns your soul, remember that lesson from childhood and understand that although this pain now far surpasses a mere tumble from the bicycle, it will also begin to lessen
The inner dialogue, remaining aware of yourself (and not only of your pain), the decision to make good choices - even in the midst of pain - all of these will stand you in good stead, when you need to begin the process of dealing with overwhelming pain.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Using the Tools

There is so much information available to us today ... in this year, this decade, this century, this millennium ... particularly information that allows us to live better lives, not only more productive lives, but much better lives on levels that go way beyond that.

We can be healthier, due to the information cutting-edge science is constantly feeding us. We can be more content and happier, less stressed, more in tune with ourselves, in a much better place inside ourselves, simply due to information that is constantly pouring out at us on so many levels.

Tools are available to us that no one would have - or could have - dreamt about a mere decade or two ago ... tools that allow us to resolve issues that in the last century were dealt with over years of treatment, and even then, more often than not, simply not resolved.

But we - here and now in this time of our history - have tools ... if we only go out looking for them.

Or ... if we already have them, if we've already received or found them ... if we would only stop procrastinating and use them.

Today it's about that. This post is about reminding you to use what you already have gleaned, rather than just reading it or hearing it and then not doing anything about it. There is so much, and yet we tend to sit back and vegetate.

I often think that part of the reason for this lack of initiative is that we are lazy and not disciplined when it comes to making changes - even positive changes - that can impact our lives.

I also often think it has to do with the fact that so many of us don't really allow the possibility of real change being possible enter our lives. We've been taught so long and so forcefully that change only comes with a price tag of hard work, that we are not excited about trying some of the tools we may have learned about at a workshop last weekend, or read about in a book or article the other day, or observed in a program on TV or on YouTube.

You might also like to listen to the audio file of a radio show I did about this topic some time ago,
I've Been to all the Seminars, and all the Workshops, and I've Read all the Books, But My Life is Still the Same... in order to hear more about this topic of our procrastination when it comes to not rushing out to make changes even when all the tools are already in our hands. (NOTE: Once you click on the above link, scroll down to the "Awareness & Consciousness" section and find the audio file ... in alphabetical order).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Observe the Love You Give Your Pets So Freely

Listen to yourself as you come home from work. You greet your dog, or your cat, or your parrot, or your gerbil, or the iguana, or whatever you have - those of you who do have pets - and you let loose a stream of love.

You may use baby words, or you may murmur sounds, or you may express joy and happiness.

But however you express it, your pet has not a doubt in his mind that you love him deeply.

Fast forward. You are now greeting yourself, if I can put it that way, in the morning as you wake up. Or you are speaking to yourself after you managed to hit the ball into the bunker for the third time. And the words you are speaking are anything but loving. Or you are speaking to yourself for being late in the morning as you drive to work. There is no love there at all.

Admittedly, you may not speak as lovingly as I depicted above, to your dog, if he has just eaten the steak you left out on the counter, or to your cat if she has just chased a fly through the house and broke a lamp and a vase in the process. But - and this is a very big but - because you generally speak so lovingly to your pet, and because you are so tender in your behaviour with your pet, he/she is not in doubt about your love for him/her.

But you - who speak so cruelly, or disparagingly, or unfeelingly, or with such lack of empathy - to yourself, must always be in doubt of your own worthiness. How can you believe in your own value, how can you respect yourself if you use such unkind language so frequently with yourself?

Why not take a lesson from your own behavior with your pet? Be as loving to yourself as you are to the pet, and begin to notice the difference in every aspect of your life.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Are You Planning?

As you think about your plans, as you imagine how things will be when you achieve a specific goal, as you think about how you feel today with regards to what is on your plate, and with regards to what tomorrow and the next day, and the next week and month will bring you, so you make it.

In other words, you can have a pretty clear picture of what things will be like for you, in the months and years to come, if you pay close attention to the way you think about it right now.

Many authors write about this subject, ranging from business writers, to philosophers, to esoteric thinkers, but they all essentially give the same message: whatever you imagine now regarding your future, will have its place there.

Let's say you dream of building up a company, or having a restaurant, or recording a song that goes to platinum, or becoming an olympic athlete. These are your dreams. And you think about them. But the greater portion of your thinking time ... when you think about the dreams ... is spent thinking about everything that could go wrong. Or thinking about how you will never be able to achieve it. Or thinking about how you are crazy for even imagining that you could go that far. And so on. So you do actually spend some time working on your goal, you put in the hours, but the stuff that your thoughts of made of while you are doing this, is not conducive to achieving that goal.

So you need to begin to become aware of yourself. Become aware of exactly how you imagine that future, how you think about it, what you tell yourself as you do that, and how you feel as you are doing all of that.

It's almost impossible to be aware as I state in the foregoing paragraph, if you have not trained yourself to observe the state of your emotions as much as possible. Listen to my audio clip Emotions: Your Road to Freedom in order to understand this concept more closely, but the bottom line is this: if you are aware of yourself in your now moments, if you use that awareness in order to shift the state of your inner energy (see also The Energy Barometer, Make Your Mind Body Connection Work For You), if you remember to be in a state of gratitude, and if you remember to bring about as much joy as you can into your days, and you do this as much as possible, every day, all the time, you are creating another type of energetic frequency than when you do not do this. And that energetic frequency is capable of shifting the process of your life in ways that differ from the type of energy you create when you do not this. Look at it from this point of view: what do you have to lose trying this?

And here's another thing to remember: even if you are not thinking about goals ... whatever your current state is ... it paves the road for your future. Your current state carries energy with it. And that energy has a kind of strength that goes beyond just this moment. So become aware of your now moments. Always.

Here are more articles on the topic of the inner state of your energy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Language We Use Matters

In one of Barack Obama's early interviews that was originally aired on Al Arabiya TV, I heard him say these words in reference to many of the problems in the Middle East: the language we use matters. Although he was referring to the way the problems in that region are expressed by those of us in other areas of the world, and in particular the press and political leaders past and present, it immediately made me think of it in other terms.

What language do we use to express ourselves inside our heads - our self-talk - about ourselves and what we do and what we plan? Specifically, which words are we using during this self-talk?

Further, what language do we use to express ourselves verbally, when in conversation with others? What words are we hearing ourselves say over and over again?

Are they words that serve to empower us, or do we use words that weaken us, and that lower our energetic frequency? Think about it: when your young child makes a mistake, do you encourage, bolster and support him or her, so that they will try again, with the belief that next time they will do better, or succeed? Or do you cut them down, criticize and belittle them?

Now: in a similar situation, how do you speak to yourself?

What about when you run into a snag during your day? Not necessarily a mountain, just a little snag, but one that is enough to lower your energy ... if you allow it by the messages you send yourself.

Do you say things like:
  • Not again!
  • I really could have done without this!
  • Why does stuff like this always happen to me?
  • I just knew it couldn't continue as smoothly as it had been going...
  • Wouldn't you know it ... just when things were going so well.
  • Typical ... my usual bad luck.

Or do you watch your language and say things like:
  • let's see ... how do we solve this in the best way?
  • what's the quickest way to get around this?
  • wow ... now that I think about it, this is actually good, because it let me see a new perspective. Without it, I would never have come to this conclusion ... which is actually much better in the long term
  • so this is what Ford meant when he said that failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently
  • if Lincoln / Edison / Einstein / Ford could pick themselves up, so can I!
  • so this is what Kennedy meant when he said "Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly"
The point is not so much that you use words of this nature verbatim, but that you remember their general gist when you need to in order that you maintain your inner energy - your inner sense of purpose - in a good place, rather than going down because of the language you use.

I often refer to energy from the point of view of how you feel inside, of the frequency at which your inner state of being is vibrating, and there are many articles about this subject here on the blog (click on the label below). In order to maintain this energy at an optimum level at all times, it is expedient to take good care of that energy. If you want to maintain a toned body, with strong muscles, it is clear that you must do something about that body and those muscles. It's the same thing with this energy I'm referring to. Many, many things - many easy things - can be done, as long as they are done frequently (as you would exercise frequently in order to maintain a toned body), in order to maintain such a state of good energy. Again, I recommend that you have a look at some of the posts about inner energy on this blog, and in particular, this one:
Photo: Namibia

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Whatever You Can Conceive and Believe....You Can Achieve!!!

The sentence used as the title for today's post has been attributed to different writers over the years, ranging from Goethe to Napoleon Hill. The idea inherent in it, even if not the exact words, has indeed been expressed for centuries, if not millennia by many different thinkers, writers, and philosophers.

But few of us actually take it to heart.

If you can imagine something, and you can believe in it, you can achieve it. That is what it says ... and that is what many have done in some fashion or another. Look at it from the point of view of authors from other epochs, such as Jules Verne who envisioned traveling to the moon, or boats that went under water. In his time such thinking was considered the product of a fanciful mind, given to perhaps a too high degree of imagination. And yet, we brought it about. Think about celebrities who tell interviewers that from the time they were children, they could see themselves singing or acting in front of vast audiences.

Finding examples that prove - in some fashion - the veracity of the statement in the title of this blog is not hard. It is much harder finding within ourselves the psychological and emotional resources and wherewithal, not to mention the spiritual ones, that lead us to such a place where we can, in fact, bring such thinking into our own lives.

What do we dream of? What - if we imagine it, or daydream about it - brings us to a place where we feel invigorated, charged, pumped? What does feeling that way tell us? If we are to believe many writers of this 21st century, it means that we are on the track to something that brings us closer to our life's true purpose. Supposing that is true, and supposing the statement from the title of today's post is also true, doesn't it then make sense, that we round out this image in our mind, that we hone it and define it and dream about it with such detail that we really know what it would look like, be like, feel like, taste like, sound like, etc., if it were already real?

And once it is so real in our minds that we can almost touch it, that we then believe in it, in order to bring it another step closer to reality?

Somewhere in there, of course, there has to be an action plan. If we don't know exactly how to bring something about, we can nevertheless be consciously working on early steps, aware of the fact that the more we move in the direction of the image, the more we open opportunities for doors to open that will bring us closer to it.

Along this road towards the achieving of the dream you must understand that it is essential to pay very close attention to your emotional frequency. The more you dwell on that which is not yet the way you want it to be, the more you dwell on the current reality of something you do not wish in your life, the more you will have it. In other words, while you dwell in the current reality, the way you are feeling needs to be directed by the image and the feelings as you think about it, that it evokes in you.

Oh, but I have so many pressing problems right now. I need to be realistic and deal with them. Yes you do. But do your due diligence with them every day for a limited amount of time. Once that is done, use the rest of the day to maintain your thoughts and especially your feelings in that other place. Start practicing right now, and you will see that it becomes a habit. You will enjoy feeling that way, rather than the worrying, negative way. It does not mean that you are no longer responsible, or that you are shirking irksome duties. It simply means you have chosen to look in new directions a greater portion of your time rather than in the same negative ones.

Albert Einstein once said: Some people look at life and see nothing as a miracle. I look at life and see EVERYTHING as a miracle.

Imagine the accumulation - over a lifetime - of thoughts of worry and fear and dread and negativity (due to daily problems in your particular reality), as opposed to the accumulation - over a lifetime - of thoughts of joy and anticipation and freedom. This is the direction you can choose to go in right now if you so desire and decide. And as you do it, you will begin to move in the directions of your dreams.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Pearl Principle

I'm currently spending some days in the UAE, in Dubai, and leafing through The Sand Fish, a book by a local author, I was reminded of the area's pearl fishing origins (that lasted well over a thousand years until the onset of the Depression and the advent of artificial pearls necessitated a casting about for another means of survival ... ). And thinking about those pearls, I remembered this:
No inner irritation
No Pearl.
Lama Surya Das

Lama Surya Das, one of the foremost American Lamas in the Buddhist tradition, has been an integral part of Buddhism's surge in popularity in recent years. He has made Buddhism accessible and inspiring to serious practitioners and neophytes alike.

Read some of his articles, articles written about him, and listen to some podcasts here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nurturing the Inner Self

What a year of horrendous news it's been already! How much time have we not all spent viewing with sadness and compassion the uprisings, revolutions, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis in so many regions.
But as the diverse international news channels began to focus on the rest of the world again, not only are we fed breaking news regarding all that is wrong with the world, but even during a brief interview of a politician who speaks of yet another crisis in yet another sector of this global community, the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen brings out message after message (and they are all very brief, so that you can read them at one go, as they flash across the screen) reiterating the constant killing, genocide, hunger, sickness, disease, and failing economies of the world.

I mention this subject frequently because I know that many people react to this by feeling even worse than they may already be feeling. They listen to the news, and they see this ticker tape of negative news, and they concentrate on that. Their inner eye, their energetic state, their sense of well-being is imbued with the dread of all of this bad news, this constant stream of information that is destined to pull us down, because none of it is good. But because it raises the spectre of fear, it keeps us hooked, we have to keep watching, just in case the next bit of bad news is something we need to be informed about. And so we get caught up in a vicious cycle of self-defeat - or at least - in a cycle of defeat of the good energetic place in which we should be choosing to find ourselves in, rather than the one we get placed into by our willingness to watch this negativity day after day after day, and then, to make matters worse, to continue to think about it and discuss it with everyone we meet.

And yet good things are constantly happening. A cancer patient has a remission. Better and better medication for AIDS have been found. A child was rescued from a well. A domestic pet saved its owner by risking its own life. A scientist in some obscure university of some obscure country has discovered what may be a cure for Alzheimer's. A new chip has been invented that will bring the price of personal computers to what calculators cost. Etc. etc. But we are not given this part of the news. At least not at the hours that Breaking News tends to be brought to the awareness of the public. Instead, we are given the terror and the horror and the fear of the other part of the news.

And then perhaps, on Saturday morning, or Sunday afternoon, when they need fillers, when hardly anyone is watching, they give us the rest of it. Those bits, that if they gave them to us interspersed with the bad stuff, would allow us to have a measure of balance, a sense that the world is not a terrible place to be, or that things are so bad that we have no hope.

Why not turn off your TV, other than perhaps a 15-minute segment to remain apprized of the most urgent news, or at least turn off your news channels, so that those who decide what we will be given to be nurtured with, realize that that kind of nourishment is not acceptable?

Photo: Capetown, South Africa

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Getting Over It Sooner or Later

When you start realizing that your thinking is something you can change about at will, in order to best suit your inner and outer health and well-being, you can get on a real roller-coaster ... because you begin to realize how easy it is.

You decide how to think about something. If a bad thing happens, you decide how to focus on it, which way to look at it. If an unexpected delay or impediment comes up, you decide how to focus on it, which way to look at it.

It really applies to everything.

And so thinking about this the other day, I listened to the story being told about something Hemingway writes about in Islands in the Stream. Apparently a man had just been notified that his son had been killed in the war overseas. And that night he was out dancing. Someone angrily remonstrated with him, saying: How can you be dancing if your son was just killed?

His answer?

I know that I will have to get over it sooner or later, so I have simply chosen when that will be.
This may seem heartless, even cruel. But think about it. Whom does it serve for him to spend weeks and months grieving? A psychotherapist such as myself might say that he needs to grieve in order to find closure. Perhaps so. Perhaps most do. But perhaps much of it is in our minds.

Just as it is in our minds when we decide to let something go that we have been holding on to for months, years, or even decades, such as resentment, bitterness, pain, anger, and hatred. We can choose to let go of that sooner or later as well. And isn't sooner better than later?

The energy with which we suffuse ourselves can be high or low, positive or negative, but it is really up to us, it remains our choice, and hence is our responsibility.

Photo: El Arco, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Going As High As You Think

It always seems to come back to our thoughts. If we can become aware and conscious of ourselves and our thoughts and feelings, we can begin to take a measure of what we are allowing into our lives though them.

Heed your feelings, heed your thoughts, in reality, heed the state of your inner being, your energy, for wherever it is, there are you, and that is where you will remain, until you change it.

Benjamin Disraeli said it very well: Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.

Read some of my previous posts on this subject of our inner energy and the important role it plays in the development of our lives:
Photo: The Walls of Avila, Spain

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When You Believe You Are Failing...

If you have been working hard, moving towards your goal of:
  • getting a promotion
  • improving your golf score
  • losing weight
  • finishing a degree at night while you work during the day
  • honing your body
  • playing the piano
  • making your first million
  • writing a book
  • finding a gallery that will hang your paintings
  • getting chosen for the football team
  • running 6 km in one hour
  • and all the etceteras you can possibly imagine
and feel disheartened, because you have not yet reached your goal, or because today you failed to keep up to your pre-set schedule, then read on:

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt in a speech in Paris on April 23, 1910

Monday, April 4, 2011

Not Minding What Happens

One of the times my three wonderful sons visited here in Spain, I was overjoyed and thrilled as usual to have them all together again at one time and in one country, rather than seeing one here and another there, and so on. But ... they all caught some nasty bug that had been doing the rounds here from northern Spain to the Mediterranean Coast where I live. High fever, nausea, painful cough, etc. (Funnily enough, I didn't get it despite our close physical proximity since the first came down with it, and each of his brothers in close succession, and despite the fact that I became - ipso facto - and naturally enough, nurse and chief cook and bottle-washer).

However, this did spoil our carefully laid plans and we have been obliged to curtail many of the activities and sight-seeing excursions to Cordoba, Seville, and Granada that we had wanted to undertake together, creating some expected and logical disappointment, and so on one of the last mornings we were all together, as I woke up, I picked up a well-worn copy of Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose and opened it at random.

(If you have not seen his ten 90-minute webinars about this book on Oprah's website, click here to access them. This link is always available on the right side-bar of my blog in the links section.)

This is what I read as a subtitle on the page that had opened: Not Minding What Happens. Tolle refers to Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher, who traveled the world for over 50 years attempting to convey through words - which are content - that which is beyond words, beyond content. Tolle writes that at one of Krishnamurti's talks he asked his audience if they wanted to know his secret; many had been coming to his conferences for years and had still not grasped the essence of his teachings.

"This is my secret," he said. "I don't mind what happens."

And Tolle explains: To be in alignment with what is means to be in a relationship of inner nonresistance with what happens. It means not to label it mentally as good or bad, but to let it be. Does this mean you can no longer take action to bring about change in your life? On the contrary. When the basis for your actions is inner alignment with the present moment, your actions become empowered by the intelligence of Life itself.

Chris Griscom also wrote, many years ago, in one of her many magnificent books: where there is no resistance, there is no pain.

As I read those words, I remembered something similar in Tolle's seminal work The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. The two short paragraphs in that earlier book had meant a great deal to me some years ago when I was given a diagnosis of malignant uterine cancer.

Tolle wrote this: The present moment is sometimes unacceptable, unpleasant, or awful.

It is as it is. Observe how the mind labels it and how this labeling process, this continuous sitting in judgment, creates pain and unhappiness. By watching the mechanics of the mind, you step out of its resistance patterns, and you can then allow the present moment to be. This will give you a taste of the state of inner freedom from external conditions, the state of true inner peace. Then see what happens, and take action if necessary or possible.

Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Aways work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.

Why not use that as your guiding motif for the remainder of this year that is still in its early stages: Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Aways work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.

This will miraculously transform your whole life.


Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books. My new book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is now out globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.

Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (English)

Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (Spanish & German - coming April 2015)

Note: If you are wondering why this blog is now only appearing on alternate days (excluding Sat/Sun), it is because I also post on my other blog on the others days. That other blog is The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed.

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Meine Bücher auf deutsch April 2015 / Mis libros en español abril 2015

Angefangen mit Rewiring the Soul - auf deutsch: Wiedervereinigung mit der Seele (Blog hier), werden meine Bücher auf Amazon im April 2015 erhaltbar sein.

Empezando con Rewiring the Soul - en español: Reconectar con el Alma (blog aquí), se podrán encontrar mis libros en Amazon en español en todo el mundo a partir de abril 2015.