This post is dedicated to everyone who lives with ADD or loves someone with ADD.
In our minds we have three states of time. Past, present, and future. We can only do anything in one of them. It is only the present moment in which we can physically act. Before you read on take a moment and let that sink in. The only time you can act is in this present moment. You can’t take action in the past, and you can’t take literal action in the future. It is only right now that you can do anything. If you didn’t stop and think that through please do so now. It is the foundation for what follows.
Our thoughts are constantly either recreating events of the past, or trying to paint the future. Unless you are under immediate physical attack the only emotional pain you suffer are those memories of the past or thoughts of the future. Your thoughts about the future and the past dictate what you do in the present moment. That statement was not meant to de-legitimize anyone’s pain or emotional state. Therapists and Life Coaches spend much of their time with clients, listening closely to their thoughts about what is going on in their lives or how they might achieve their goals. Their potential to help their client begins when they detect unhealthy thought patterns, or those thoughts that don’t align with the client’s goals. For the sake of improving your life, what if you were to begin to live your life more fully in the present moment? Do what I am about the suggest the next available time after reading this post, or right now if you are in a quiet place and won’t get interrupted. Wherever you are sit quietly, close your eyes if you want, and pay attention to the subtle noises in the background. You can also focus on your breathing instead, or notice the subtle feelings in your body. Notice the feeling of your body against the furniture. When a thought comes to mind, don’t judge it or react to it just notice it. Then take your focus back to the sounds in your environment, your breath, or the subtle feelings in your body. Do this for at least five minutes and no more the twenty minutes. When I was first starting with Mindfulness I did this for twenty minutes a couple of times per day. Over a period of a month or so I started to notice that I was calmer overall. I also started to notice that I could better control my impulsivity. I remember the first time I noticed this. Someone had said something that would have normally triggered me to respond and start an argument. I was able to let the comment pass, without incident. If you have ADD, you know how that incident would have likely ended, if I hadn’t created that space that allowed me not to react to the comment. I also noticed something else. I didn’t feel any ill will towards the person who made the comment. It was as they say like water of a ducks back. If you honestly participated in that exercise, and had a positive experience I want to issue a “temporary” warning. I once heard a popular success guru tell an audience about his meditation practice, and then right after he warned them that if all you ever do is bliss out on meditation, they will eventually come and take your furniture. I call this a temporary warning because Mindfulness is not just about meditating. Once you are able to stop the racing thoughts in your mind you will realize that being mindful can be done throughout the normal course of life. Here are a few ways you can practice Mindfulness throughout your day. Let’s say you want to get into the habit of making your bed every morning. Tomorrow morning you can get up, and Mindfully make your bed. Take a deep breath and deliberately make your bed, noticing the feel of the fabric in the pillows, or how the wrinkles flatten out when stretching the sheet. Overall just pay attention to the process. Another way I practice Mindfulness is when I am writing an email or message to someone. I will notice myself deliberately touching each key. Whatever you do throughout your day for work or home just pick a few things to do deliberately noticing the details.
The real goal of Mindfulness is to quiet all those thoughts that normally keep you out of a state of being attentive. Have you ever wondered why no matter how hard you try, you just haven’t been able to change certain behaviors. It is likely because you never noticed the thoughts that were causing them. When you learn to observe your thoughts without passing judgement, you will become conscious of them. When you are conscious of your thoughts, it shines a light on them that makes their impact diminish. The bible tells us to “guard the door of our minds.” The only way you can guard against the thoughts is to become aware of them, let them be and they will dissipate. If you have questions or comments drop me a note here or comment below.
Any big challenge in your life will become exponentially easier with help. Individuals who want to do everything themselves are rarely high achievers. Working with or leading others does not come naturally to me. For most of my life I have been that person who would rather do things myself. Not because I am a perfectionist. Not because want to do extra work, but because I had a hard time asking for and receiving help. Once I would ask for help, I often had a hard time getting on the same page as those who were there to help. I have a faster than normal ADHD brain, which made it difficult for me to stop the racing thoughts and really pay attention to others. I have made large strides in this area, which has opened up my ability to ask for, accept, and reap the benefits from working with others. Early on after finishing my life coaching certification, I had one of those Aha moments. It was something I had learned during my courses, but the weight of the concept hadn’t really hit me. I had a young man who came to me with a career related goal he wanted to achieve. It had to do with making a step up in his career. He was really excited about the opportunity this would provide him, but he would have to spend an extra year on top of his formal education to get the certification he needed. He had told me how important this goal was to him, but he also told me “I am not spending that extra year for the certification.” To that statement I asked a question. “Did you tell me this goal was really important to you?” He responded, “Yes”. So I asked, “are you telling me that the pain of this extra year of classes is bigger than this goal?” He stopped in his tracks, his jaw dropped, and slowly a smile came across his face. Then he said “Yes, but I guess I really didn’t realize what I was saying”. A few lines up, you probably knew exactly where this was going, and you may have rhetorically asked the same question I did, before I did. The thing was that he had a blind spot in his thinking that he didn’t see. We all have them, and yes they are as obvious as his was. Clarifying your thinking is one of the reasons to work with others. If you take the time to listen to others and assume they know something you don’t, it will benefit you greatly. The second reason to work with others has to do with math. Have you ever seen the video of the power lifter pulling a commercial truck? An amazing feat. I have no idea what kind of force it takes to pull one of those trucks, but lets say it takes three thousand pounds for the sake of this story. Now imagine if you spread the work over three people. Then it only takes a thousand pounds per person right? Not exactly. Without going into the details of Kinetic Friction, having three people pulling creates additional synergy that allows them to pull approximately three times more weight per person. Synergy not only works for pulling heavy wheeled objects, it also works for intellectual and business problems. Benjamin Franklin’s idea of mastermind groups became very popular in the success literature of the seventies. Franklin would meet with several of his friends and associates and they would work on solving the problems of the day. Famous success teacher Napoleon Hill said, “I don’t know anyone who has become extraordinarily successful who has not utilized the principle of the mastermind group.”
None of us are so talented and smart on our own that we wouldn’t benefit from the assistance of others. This is well known wisdom, but in today’s independence minded world employing the help of others is severely under utilized. If you have a list of goals you want to achieve, I would encourage you to review them and ask yourself who the right person is to help you achieve each of them. If you don’t have goals written down, I would encourage you to take a few hours, decide what you want in your life, and then go back and see who might be able to help.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
I have always been interested in positive thinking literature. What follows are a couple of my own thoughts on the subject. I understand that when some people hear the term “positive thinking”, they throw up a little bit. You might imagine a bubbly, and smiling person being interviewed in the aftermath of a natural disaster and they are trying to spin it in a positive light. I am interested in a more pragmatic approach to positive thinking. Not denying reality but understanding the impact of a positive outlook. I will start with sharing a phenomenon that most people will be able to relate to. Before buying a car of a certain model and color, you don’t notice very many of them on the road. As soon as you buy one, it seems everyone is driving a car like yours. Before you bought the car your mind wasn’t focused on this particular color and model of car. Once you bought one, you took mental and physical ownership. In a similar way practicing a bit of positive thinking will help you to notice more positive things and opportunities. Putting more positive thoughts in your mind, will also help you to notice some of the unconscious negative thoughts that can come to mind regularly. If you are spending time everyday thinking intentionally positive, when a negative thought comes it will create a contrast that will help you to recognize it. One of the most valuable things I learned so far through my counseling and life coaching education, is that we are not nearly as conscious and deliberate in our thoughts as we think we are. If you purposefully notice your thoughts, you will find that the majority of them rise in your mind without any intention. Most of your thoughts are not an act of conscious will, it is just your brain on autopilot. The act of consciously planting positive thoughts in your mind is like buying that car. It will create a hook that will help you to become more conscious of your negative thoughts, which will allow you to catch yourself in the act of self sabotage. Let’s go back to the car buying experience. When you bought your car, it was a big decision. Maybe you weren’t completely comfortable with the amount you spent on the car or the monthly payment. Maybe your salesperson was applying pressure that made you uncomfortable. Spending that much money is uncomfortable for most people. A lot of people will blame it on a high pressure salesperson, but your resistance to buying the new car is just as much that your mind doesn’t like change. You have done the numbers and you know you can make the payment, but you act as if you are unsure you can afford it. After a few months you get accustomed to the payments. You like the car just fine, and life goes on. Starting to think more positively can be like that car buying experience. It feels good thinking about it, but your brain will resist and try desperately to get you back into your old thought patterns. You don’t like change because your brain doesn’t like change. Starting a practice of positive thinking can be as simple as writing out the goals or the life you want for yourself, and thinking about what good that will mean for your life. Just as important is to stop thinking about the things you don’t want. Toward the last third of the video below Brian Tracy talks about a study that the University of Pennsylvania did on positive thinking. It is interesting what successful people thought about vs, what some less successful people thought about. Negative thinking is something that I have struggled with most of my life. I know what limitations it can put on you, and there are no easy shortcuts.
Some look to retirement as a time to reap the fruits of their labor, but I see it as an opportunity to pay forward the blessed life I have and continue to live. I have worked in various capacities in business and technology over the last twenty some years. I am still a full time Business Intelligence Specialist, and the one thing that remains constant is my desire to provide value to those I serve in whatever capacity. In that spirit I have been preparing myself for a retirement career in the helping professions. I am a certified life coach and over the next ten years or so will be transitioning fully into my retirement career. In the mean time I hope to share some of the things I have learned along the way. My hope is that you get as much value as I have from what I share here.