Monday, April 26, 2010

Suffering Is A Habit

We all want to be happy. “Happiness is so important, it transcends all other worldly considerations,” said Aristotle. Yet, we manage to make our lives harder than they need to be.

For many of us, our minds gravitate toward (and perhaps even obsess over) what’s not working, who’s a problem, what’s missing, where we’ve failed (or risk failing), and how we are dissatisfied with what is. We wonder why it is this way, and we spend a lot of time attempting to get to the root. Is it effective? Does it produce better results? Sometimes. So we go back to that method over and over.

Even if we typically have a more positive point of view, we worry about, fear, and anticipate what might potentially go wrong – and strategize ad nauseam on how to minimize the risk. We might even embrace the concept that suffering is noble – that it is just part of us or part of life, and that nothing is going to change that. Perhaps we believe that true success requires it… sacrifice, struggle, challenges overcome.

The bottom line is: suffering is something we’ve gotten used to, starting from a young age. Yet, I contend that suffering is not only unnecessary, but is a habit. It’s the default place we go because it’s familiar and has been part of our experience for so long. However, with practice, we can minimize our experiences of suffering by shifting how we think.

Where we choose to direct our attention, thoughts, and actions has an impact on our experience of life. We attract into our world what we focus on. When we focus on the negative, that’s what we get. Conversely, when we choose to look from a positive point of view, we are more likely to get that.

We have a choice. We can shine the light on what we don’t like and don’t want. Or, we can accept what is, then focus on what we want to create – not as a fix-it, but as a burning desire to invest in what’s possible.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Here are a few suggestions of things to try. Pick one or two and see where it takes you.
Ultimately, how you choose to focus your thoughts will impact your experience. Choose to make yourself happy by investing in minimizing your suffering. It will not happen overnight, and will require practice and commitment. But the rewards are worth it. And so are you.

“Suffering is not good for the soul, unless it teaches you to stop suffering.” ~Jane Roberts

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Three Minds Are Better Than One

1 + 1 = 3. Your mind (1) plus another’s mind (1) equals a third mind (3). Picture yourself as a harp or a violin with a luscious expression of its own. Another’s instrument is a concert piano with a distinctive, yet complementary tone that can sing beautifully by itself. However, combine these two voices (or minds) and you create a wholly unique combination that is a beautiful medley of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and power.

A partnership of two people creates a third entity that allows for much more to be accomplished than each person going it alone. As an entrepreneur, I tend to spend a lot of time alone. I don’t necessarily have coworkers or team members to bounce ideas off of, much less to support me through the process of creation, development, growth, and success – unless I seek it out. While there is great beauty in a solo, there is something incredible available when multiple minds and voices are blended in a duet, trio, or ensemble.

Since the dawn of man, people have collaborated to share ideas, nurture and support one another, and to develop, innovate, and build. We know from first-hand experience how beneficial a team can be for brainstorming, defining goals, providing accountability, and generating and sustaining positive energy toward shared aims.

In his landmark book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill goes so far as to say that real, lasting success is not possible without others. That is why he recommended the creation of MasterMind groups to provide that support, structure, and energy that is essential to achieving each member’s goals and dreams.

Putting this into action, two fellow coaches and I have formed a collaborative we’re calling The Power of Three, highlighting the idea that three is a magic number (à la Schoolhouse Rock). On a weekly basis, we will come together to incubate ideas, exchange positive energy, and provide nurturing and support for our endeavors. As an outcome of our brainstorming and collaboration, we will develop weekly pieces for our blogs with the commitment to inspire, connect, educate, and entertain. Each will take the exquisite harmony we create together and render a composition that best resonates for our unique instruments.

In our first weekly session, we defined our shared values and objectives, and outlined what the power of three really means to us. The instigator of our collaborative, Clint Griess, captured the spirit and substance of that first call in his blog entry, titled “The Power of Three: Building Alliances that Last.” The second voice of our trio is Starla King, whose Word Stew is a delightful concoction of poetry, character, and insight.

Applying my initial equation to our trio, you get:
Mind 1: Judah (J)
Mind 2: Clint (C)
Mind 3: Starla (S)
Mind 4: J + C
Mind 5: J + S
Mind 6: C + S
Mind 7: J + C + S
Now, aren’t seven minds better than one?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Practicing “Being” –- Access to the Present Moment

Practicing intentionality is not only crucial to success, but to being present – in life, with people, in your skin. It is important to ask yourself who you want to be in in the moment, so that you are in a position to choose, rather than just reacting, to what is coming into your experience. In the blog entry on setting intentions, I give an example of how you may apply that to individual situations. Here's a way to extend that to a daily practice.

Every morning, I set out with an intention of who I want to focus on being for that day. For example, I recently chose “being patience” (not just “patient”) as my focus. I thought about the word and what it means – both as an action and as a concept. I practiced by trying to consciously apply “being patience” to everything that came my way – choosing my response rather than simply reacting unconsciously. I don’t make it heavy and serious; rather, I like to have fun with it and see how creative I can be in applying it.

This is how “being patience” looked that day. I asked myself repeatedly, “How can I bring patience (or be patience) in this situation?” Here are a few examples of how I applied it:
  • Shaving – Being patience with the process (one I don't enjoy) so that I didn’t nick myself
  • Gym – Being patience with my own limitations and slow progress so that I could refocus on my commitment to health
  • Phone Call – Being patience with a customer service rep so I could keep calm and create a more positive outcome
  • Email – Being patience with the amount of time and focus it took to read and respond thoughtfully
  • Client Meeting – Being patience as a model for my client, and exploring ways he could apply it himself
  • Myself – Being patience with myself for becoming impatient or not remembering to “be patience” in situations where it would have been useful!
I’m not 100 percent. However, the more I practice, the more often I’m able to apply it throughout the day. It’s not only about practicing the “being” itself, but also about practicing being present enough to be able to choose – moment by moment, situation by situation. Some others I’ve played with are being gratitude, abundance, joyful, playful, passionate…and the list goes on.

How might you impact your experience if you remembered to practice "being" a couple of times (twice is more than zero) throughout the day? It would totally shift your interactions, your ability to be present, and perhaps even how you view yourself.