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Poison in “The Secret”


Should you become a millionaire and want to help the guy who shared this with you, we can talk about ways to contribute.  Until then please take and use what I have given you here today, to bring true riches into your life.

They say, simply envision and focus on what you want, and you will attract it. The universe will manifest it into your life.  The law of attraction is the foundation of “The Secret”.  There are a lot of businesses who promote the law of attraction, and in exchange for money will provide you the content.  In this post I will give you the truth for free, which is an infinitely greater value and infinitely more effective.  What I am sharing here is not a hoax, it is the real thing and it works.  

The poison pill in the law of attraction doesn’t come from the content itself, it comes from the intention of the consumer of the content.  Someone is seeking more in life, now they believe they have found Aladdin’s lamp in the law of attraction. The materially lustful wishes start flowing freely.  Pictures of expensive cars, homes, and exotic vacations flood their minds, and on their vision boards hanging about.  This puts their desires in a much higher state of focus than their belief they will receive it.  You see, true faith quells desire, because “it is the evidence for things not seen”.   Over a period of time they fail to receive the desires.  With this often comes discouragement, depression, and very often self blame. They are unable to manipulate the universe into magically manifesting their every desire.  They must not be good enough, they think.

When I first stumbled on to what I believe is the real secret, I was afraid it was the way to material poverty. The truth I found defies everything I ever believed about abundance.  The starting point of true abundance is gratefulness.  

The first order of business is to do whatever it takes to become truly grateful for what you currently have, and have faith that everything is as it is supposed to be.  If you are thinking  you don’t have anything to be grateful for, notice that you have just taken another breath.  One breath provides the opportunity for you to turn things around.  Do you think your job is terrible, think again.  Within that job lies the starting point for a greater life.  The truth is that most of what is so terrible is not our current situation, but what we think about our current situation.  If you have something “terrible” in your life right now, I want you to just explore what it feels like.  Get curious about it.  Don’t give in to the desire to label it as bad, just experience it, and ask yourself what it is.  Lean into it and feel it, without thinking about it as good or bad.  If you do this you will see that what I am telling you is true.  What you think about something is really what makes it bad.  Otherwise it just is. 

Once you are thankful for what you currently have, your life will be better.  Now it is time to get your head out of the past and future and into the present moment.  If you are goal oriented, you can look at it this way.  You can’t act in the past, and you can’t act in the future.  The only time you can act is right now. In light of that, take those goals and think about what you think they  would bring into your present moment if they were fulfilled.  Take time to really think this through for every goal.  I have found that what most people really want is to feel loved, respected, appreciated, and be happy and secure in themselves.  Chances are that achieving any or all of those goals would not give you a long term sense of happiness and security.  What gives you contentment and security is focusing on what is going on right now without adding any thoughts of the past or future to it.

Once you are grateful, and living in the present moment you will have not only gained happiness, but through this process you will have gained discipline over your own mind.  You will feel abundant, and now it is time to add the goals you want.  Most people who find themselves in this state of gratefulness and discipline set goals not only for their own comfort, but to share this process with others.  It gives me great joy to share this with others, because I know what this has meant to my life.  The biggest and most valuable benefit of this process for me was that for the first time in as long as I can remember I am not depressed, not plagued by insecurities, and as financially fit as I have ever been.  This is a lifelong process, but most of the benefit was realized after only a few months of practicing mindfulness, and realizing that I am not my thoughts, my past, or how I feel.   

Freeing Yourself


The power of the pictures we paint in our mind can be the catalyst that either traps us or sets us free.  Here is a powerful picture that will help you free yourself.  

There is a fundamental way that most of us see the world and it keeps us trapped.  When we decide we want to improve ourselves, we unconsciously picture a hierarchy.  Way up and out there is the weight of the world, and everything going on.  Then there is our thinking self who is struggling under the weight of the world.  Finally there is this core being that is our true self who is under the weight of the world and everything we think about it. 

If this is the way we picture the world, how will we ever be able to lift or get out from under the weight and change our circumstances?   This is the lie that traps us.

Get a picture of this hierarchy clearly in your mind.  Now turn it upside down, putting who you truly are at the top of the hierarchy.  We are not done yet, otherwise you might get the idea you are God, and the whole world is subject to you.  The truth is that when you are at the top of the hierarchy it frees you to move up and down and around the hierarchy.  It allows you to detach who you truly are from the rest of the hierarchy.  This frees you to move about to the areas where you can make a positive difference.  

The key to making this picture serve you, is to keep your head out of the past and the future, and only deal with what is in front of you right now.   Almost every post on this blog repeats the idea that “You are not your thoughts, your past, or how you feel.”  You are so much more than that. This is the truth that freed me. If you can turn this picture upside down, and discover this truth for yourself you will be free.   

Selfish Or Self Respect?


It is important to understand the difference between being selfish, and having some self respect.  I thought about it this week when I briefly encountered a young lady who needed to improve her grades.  It was as if she thought the world would end if she didn’t.  It was also somehow apparent that these good grades would mostly be to please other people.  There was no opportunity for me to really communicate with her on the matter, other than to give a quick suggestion not to be too hard on herself.  

This encounter made me think about the reason that our relationship with ourselves is so important.  It is a good goal to improve your grades, but if pressure from the outside causes you to engage in self-criticism then it is more important that you take a stand for yourself and not worry so much about pressure from the outside.  I am reminded of a wise quote by Indian guru, Sadhguru. “It is your mind. Things should be the way you want them in there.. Isn’t it?”  He was talking about the state of your mind to handle the things coming at you from the outside.  It is up to you to decide how you react to what happens to you.  I think the one thing that really helps us do this is when we begin with the assumption that we are enough.  That we are whole and complete within ourselves.  This doesn’t mean we think that we are perfect, it means that we think enough of ourselves and understand that we are not literally perfect and that’s OK.  Understanding that we are truly valuable, and at the same time understanding that we are flawed helps us to not only extend grace to ourselves, but to others as well.  When your view of yourself and others is obscured with insecurities, making good decisions is nearly impossible. Taking pressure off yourself makes it easier for you to do better.  The intention to be better is good enough if you have a healthy view of yourself.  Do you perform better when you self ridicule, or do you perform better when you believe you are up to the task?  Pretty obvious right?

We can hold ourselves to a higher standard without all of the self abuse.  Sometimes when we set out to achieve something we are more focused on the consequences of how it will turn out.  We worry about a future moment that hasn’t happened yet.  This increases the pressure on us, but doesn’t help us to actually do better work. You literally can’t do anything in the past or future.  Now is the only time you have to act, so doesn’t it make sense to focus on the task rather than worrying about the consequences if you fail, or thinking about your past failures?  When we have a healthy view of ourselves we are free to quit self criticism, and focus on the task at hand.  Eliminating all the background noise makes the task so much more bearable.  Think about trying to do something that requires focus in a room full of loud talking people.  Your thoughts about the past and future like the room full of noisy people inhibit your ability to focus. 

The foundational belief that helps you to be better is the belief that you are enough.  You are a perfectly imperfect human being.  You have great value that extends well beyond your past, your thoughts, and your feelings.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true for all of us.  Finding that truth and giving  yourself grace is the first step to a better life.      

Lies We Believe


This video popped up on my YouTube feed today. I normally don’t just post a video without commentary, but I think this video is worth a watch. I have spent a lot of time thinking about lies that are widely believed, and I mostly agree with the video host.

Life Doesn’t Need to Be So Hard


We have plenty of things to keep us busy.  We have responsibilities around work, school, family, and finances among many other things.  For most people there is a lot to do, and then we step in and add our thoughts about the consequences of not getting it all done. We weigh ourselves down with the expectations of ourselves and others.  There are two separate aspects to living life.  There is performing all the activities that need to be done, then there is all of the added pressure of our thoughts about the activity.  

What if you could take half the pressure off yourself, and only focus on the activities without adding the additional pressure of thinking about consequences, and expectations?  We have the activity and then we have our thoughts and beliefs about these activities.  These thoughts influence how well we perform the activities. If you put a board on the floor and attempt to walk across it, this is easy for most people.  Take that same board and lay it across the distance between two tall buildings and then walk across it.  It is the same task, but the stakes are much higher if you fail to stay on the board while walking between buildings.  The location of the board is very similar to your thoughts about the task you are about to take on.  Assuming the board doesn’t flex, and there is no wind, it is the same task. The great thing about most of our activities is that if we mess up, nothing really bad happens.  

Famous author Mark Twain said “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” In this quote he was pointing to the fact that it is our worries about what might happen that is the source of many of our perceived problems.  If we really stop and think about it, this is an undeniable truth. So what do you do about it? 

Part of a mindfulness journey is learning to live in the present moment, and just acknowledging these worries without reacting to them in any way. I remember when I was learning to just have these thoughts, acknowledge them and not react to them.  I was afraid that if I quit reacting to these thoughts, that my world would fall apart and nothing would get done.  I took a leap of faith and just quit reacting.  Exactly the opposite of my worry happened.  I became a lot more effective, and got more done without all the stress.  I also found that I naturally started taking time to think through what had to be done, but then once I started doing it, I focused all of my attention on the task. I was no longer worrying about consequences. 

It is almost as if life just started unfolding.  I am not ready to give an explanation of why or how this happens, I just know that life is much easier and more gets done when you stop worrying about the future or reliving the past.  Learning to let these thoughts pass is important.  Please reach out here if you want to know more about how to let go of your stressors.  There are lots of free resources out there to help you with this. 

How We Make a Difference


When we think about those who make a difference in the world we tend to think about the renowned and famous of the world.  The thing we should always keep in mind is that they are one person just like we are, and the real difference in the world is made by hundreds of millions of people who are equipped with the means to help others in some way.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta was known for having the attitude of helping one person at a time.  Even if that help was just comfort in the final moments of one person’s life.  Countless others looked to her as an example and helped countless other people as a result of that inspiration.  She had this impact by focusing on one person at a time, and did not seek out attention to herself.     

Mother Teresa understood the point I am trying to make today.  We should not endeavor to necessarily be the difference makers for the world.  Instead we should endeavor to help people one at a time.  We are all connected at a much closer level than we know.  “Six Degrees of Separation” shows that there are six degrees of separation between you and everyone else in the world.  Helping just one person could greatly impact the lives of countless others.  We are more effective in helping others if we keep our focus on helping one person at a time to the best of our ability.

We likely won’t know all of those we had a hand in helping, but we will know we did the best we could for each person we encountered. If we do that it will bear fruit in our lives.  One of the most desirable results of this idea is that you have less to stress about, but your impact is much greater in the long run.  This is an idea that is counterintuitive to many and they doubt that focusing on one person at a time is the most effective way.  Even those who lead the largest most successful companies in the world, would have never grown to that size were it not for a handful of individuals.  Some even contribute their success to a single idea by one influential person in their lives.  We indeed make a difference one person at a time. 

Accepting Reality


What does it mean to accept reality, and how can learning to do this make a positive impact in your life? Accepting reality doesn’t mean you don’t act on anything. What you do about what happens is a completely different conversation.  The mistake that we usually make in accepting reality, is the definition of reality.  Reality is not our thoughts and responses about what happens.  It is the physical event that occurred. How you feel about it is a separate conversation.  Separating the physical event from what you think about it is the key to the power of accepting reality. 

Sometimes when a negative experience happens we just react to it. We act on it without thought and it ends up creating negative circumstances in our lives.  We are still left with the feelings of the event.  How can we short circuit reality from creating carnage in our lives?  

When a negative event happens, it isn’t a one step process to accept it.  There are a series of events that occur.  This is how I see accepting the reality of one of those events. 

  1. Something negative happens.
  2. Acknowledge that the physical event happened, but don’t add your own thoughts to it.
  3. Really notice and get curious about the feelings that come up, instead of reacting. 
  4. Accept the way you feel about it. 
  5. Decide how you are going to move forward. 

Acknowledge Reality 

The way you see an event would be perceived at least slightly differently by almost every one of the other 8 billion people on planet earth.  You may have friends who nothing seems to bother, and others who seem to be bothered by every little thing.  The same event causes no disturbance for the first group, but for the second group it is like the end of the world.  My point here is that reality is not influenced by how we see it. 

Curiosity

This is the key to stopping negative events from having long term negative consequences on you.  When you notice you are feeling a negative emotion, really focus on how it feels in the moment instead of reacting to it or adding your own thoughts.  This might sound weird, but try to sense where you feel the emotion in your body.  Get curious about it, like it has something to tell you because it does.  Once you acknowledge something in this way it greatly reduces and sometimes eliminates the feeling.  This is also helpful with minor physical pain.

Acceptance

When we experience negative emotions our natural reaction is to push them down and away from us.  The human mind doesn’t work like that.  When you push something down the only thing you can be sure of is that it will resurface at some point.  Think about how trauma impacts a person.  The most impacted people are those who have pushed down their emotions.  Instead of pushing down your emotions, acknowledge them, take a deep breath, and accept them.  You are not your emotions, you are the one who feels them.  That says something about your biology and life experiences, but it says nothing about who you truly are.  You are not your thoughts, your past, or how you feel.

Decision

Now it is time to decide if there is anything you should do about what happened.  Some believe that accepting reality is like accepting defeat, but nothing could be further from the truth.  If anything, it gives you the ability to make clear rational decisions about what you might want to do next if anything.

This Too Shall Pass


I thought this would be a good opportunity to share this blog post. Have you ever had one of those days where you were just discouraged and feeling really insecure? As I sit and start to write this blog post, I am there. I went to the gym this morning, and then came home and tried to get some things done, and had a very frustrating day. I just didn’t do well at what I was working on and ended up wasting a lot of time.  The negative thoughts really started to dig in without my immediate awareness. You know that voice that quietly asks you questions like, who are you to think you can do this right? 

I learned something a few years ago. “This too shall pass.” Your body is complicated. The events of the day,  and your brain and its biology can coalesce into a recipe for a bad day. The difference is what you decide to do with it.  Those who won’t admit to having days like this will lie about other things too.  There is a process that you can use to get out from under down days. 

  1. Acknowledge to yourself that you are struggling and that it’s OK.  Treat yourself like someone else you are responsible for encouraging in this way.   
  2. Get curious about the negative feelings.  Don’t think about them, just notice how it feels in your body and your psyche.  
  3. Review what happened at a high level.  Maybe make a list of the events that happened.  Don’t get too deep, and don’t start judging yourself. This often uncovers the otherwise obvious.
  4. At this point, get up and do something even if you don’t want to.  
  5. Just keep going until it passes.

The most important thing to remember when you are having one of these days, is that “this too shall pass.”  One thing older entrepreneurs and investors know very well is that business and markets go up and down.  So will our lives. Some periods of time are good and others aren’t.  We all go through seasons. Things happen outside of our control. It is OK to have a down day, or periods of time surrounding a bad event.  What matters is what you do with it.

Balance of Being and Doing


Interest in Mindfulness and other types of meditation has grown significantly, and for good reason.  With so many people entering into meditation practices, one of the common struggles is balancing being and doing.   People notice that if you quiet your mind and don’t do anything, you can quickly begin to experience a sense of blissfulness, or at least contentment.  If you stay in this line of thought it leads to diminishing the real value of a meditation practice.  A meditation practice was meant to create some distance between the real you and the biological computer in your brain that constantly generates thoughts that disturb you.  The end game is to be able to quiet your mind, and observe your thoughts without immediately reacting, and adding more thoughts to them.  

Have you ever had one of those days, where it felt like you were really busy all day, but you didn’t feel like you got much done?  Better yet, you can’t recall what all you got done.  Usually that sense of busyness is as much a result of the busyness in your mind as it is the actual doing of whatever you were doing.  A meditation practice will help you to stay in the moment even when you have a lot to do.  You get a sense of calm in the storm, and won’t tend to overreact the events that happen that would have upset you before.  If you work with your mind fully in the present, you can learn to be while you do.  One of my favorite meditation practices is making the bed in the morning.  I purposely start the day by quieting my mind and focusing only on making my bed without any other thoughts present.  

There is an idea from Buddhism that often gets brought into meditation practices.  I am paraphrasing from one of the four noble truths, but it basically says that the root of suffering is desire.  People then quit desiring.  This is a complete misunderstanding of this noble truth.  Jesus taught something similar in the bible, when he instructs us not to chase after wealth as the heathen do.  This was also widely misunderstood. You are always going to have desires, and you will always have things happen in life you don’t like.  A meditation practice will help you to examine your motives and thoughts so you can make decisions and act based on your values, not in reaction to autonomous thoughts.  

A long time ago success guru Tony Robbins put it this way.  Again I am paraphrasing, but he said, “if you sit around all day and bliss out, they will eventually come and take your furniture.”  True enough, and they will eventually throw you out of your home as well.  As you go into your week, work on noticing your arising thoughts and practice not automatically adding more thoughts to them.  Just observe your thoughts and don’t react.  This is “being”, it has little to do with whether you proceed in “doing” a lot or a little.  That choice is truly yours if you can learn to be, even when you are doing.