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.   

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.      

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.

The Real Source of Positive Change


Just under the label of self help alone, there are nearly 90,000 books in print. Then you can just keep adding labels, like success, spirituality, motivation, and the list goes on and on.  My point is that we have more books available to us than we could read in a lifetime.  So how many of those books do you need to make a positive change in your life?  The answer is “ZERO”.  Yes it is true that most leaders read, and it is also true that some of the information in these kinds of books are very useful.  I read self help books.  The problem is that some of us get the idea that we need these kinds of books to succeed.  Sometimes we also get the idea that we are going to prepare ourselves for massive change overnight.  While change happens in an instant, getting ourselves to the place where we are ready to make those changes doesn’t work like that. 

Here are three of the things I believe to be the real catalysts for positive change.  

Awareness Without Assumptions

Awareness of the present moment is one of the most overlooked treasure troves for living a better life.  We tend to live too much of our lives in thoughts of the past and future.  We think about what didn’t work in the past, and how we need to do better in the future.  Pay attention to where your awareness is.  Are you thinking about the past or future?  How much of your energy do you spend being aware in the present moment, and not reliving the past or thinking about the future?  

This week try to devote thirty minutes in the morning reflection and planning for the day.  Other than these thirty minutes, pay attention to the present moment.  Without putting stress on yourself just carefully observe what is going on around you, and the process of doing what needs to be done.  Don’t make assumptions about meaning or outcome.  The present moment has many things to tell you if you are just aware.  If you catch your mind wandering back to the past or into the future, just gently bring it back to the present moment. 

We also need to be aware when we are making assumptions about things.  Is it true that the best scientists in the world know gravity?  The truth is that scientists can measure the effects of gravity but we have no earthly idea, what gravity is, why it is, or where it came from.  When we notice things our brain puts a label on them.  When we label them, we think we know them.  

When you are doing this exercise to focus on being aware, don’t make any assumptions about what you see in the present moment.  Just keep a sense of curiosity.  Instead of making assumptions, ask questions about what you are seeing.  Good questions begin with something like “Is it possible that…?”, or “What if…?.  Asking these kinds of questions about everything around us, will help us not to make the assumption that we know what it all means.  

One piece of awareness that has helped me greatly both physically and mentaly is learning to be aware of my breath.  When I am not aware of the present moment while I am working I tend to breathe quick shallow breaths.  When we breathe shallow breaths we greatly increase the likelihood of anxiety, and a wandering mind.  When we breathe slowly and deeply our bodies will naturally calm down.  If you want to test this out for yourself just stop what you are doing and take six deep, slow breaths.  You will notice a sense of relaxation.  Paying attention to your breath will also keep you mind out of the past and future.  The breath is a common anchor used in meditation.   

Be Grateful

Because we are constantly living in the past and anxious about the future, we find it very difficult to be grateful.  Once we start living in the present moment we can find all kinds of things to be grateful for.  It can be difficult to be grateful when we are faced with life’s problems, but even then we can find things in the moment to be grateful for.  

I don’t believe in silver bullets for success, but the idea I am about to share is powerful.  It is a primary reason that most goal setting doesn’t work.  Let’s say you set a goal to have a million dollars in the bank.  Your mind will imagine all the ways it would make you happy.  You begin to obsess on that goal.   You desire a million dollars so much that you lose everything you have to be grateful for. You feel the lack of not having a million dollars.  Now when you actually have to work hard, you feel discouraged.

No matter what your goal is, remember to work hard to find things you are grateful for along the way.  Maybe instead of setting a goal for a million dollars, try to set a goal to add a million dollars worth of value to others.  With this kind of goal you will find it easier to be grateful, and what you desire won’t make you lose what you have.

This is hard for some people, but sit down and write down all the things you have to be grateful for.  

Bias for Action

Nothing gets done unless someone does it.  Once you are aware of your environment, aware of what needs done, and have gratitude it is time to do something.  Earlier in the post I mentioned one reason that most goal setting fails.  Lack of action is the natural result of lack of motivation and purpose.  Having a sense of lack is one of the reasons we get discouraged and don’t act. We get discouraged because our minds are thinking about a past failure, or fearing a future failure. 

Once we have a goal, a daily task, we can then start doing it.  It is important to remember to keep our thoughts out of the past and future, and just focus on the task at hand.  Be curious about what you are doing and be aware of the results you are getting in the moment. 

Summary

You don’t need any books or programs to improve the quality of your life.  Just look within and in the present moment.  Early in the post I made the statement that the present moment has a lot to tell you.  If we can be fully aware of the moment we can act without the weight of the past and future, and be much more effective.   

If you are interested in talking further about improving the quality of your life, feel free to take advantage of a free thirty minute consultation.  

Toxic Self Help


If you are a regular consumer of self help content, I would encourage you to watch James Jani’s “Toxic Self Help” video at the end of this post. Well written self help books can make us feel good, and give us a dopamine boost. We momentarily feel better. We set out to change our lives, only to end up frustrated again. The cycle takes us back to our next self help book. I was caught up in this cycle in my late twenties. I bought more of these self help books and programs, than I should have. It all lead to more frustration.

I want to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I have read some great books, and picked up some good information even from the bad ones. Much of it I still use today. The problem is not reading the books, it is believing that any book or program will be the catalyst to transform your life. Any real success is going to come by taking right consistent action over a period of time. You don’t need a book for that, but there is definitely useful information you can take from them.

If you find yourself relating to James’ video stop buying self help books, and move forward with what you already know. Feel free to contact me here. You can use a free thirty minute consult to chart a new course.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road


One thing that I am very aware of when writing these blog posts, is that it is easy to talk about achieving great things.  It is another matter entirely to actually make things happen.  When we plan, talk, and write about success, we meet with minimal resistance. When we get out there and start moving we meet with real resistance.  

Here are a few tips to help you move forward.  

  1. Take Immediate Action

Mel Robbins wrote a book titled “The Five Second Rule”. It is a great book.  The important takeaway from the book is that from the moment you decide you want to do something, it takes your mind about five seconds to realize you are going to do something uncomfortable. Once that happens it will do what it can to keep you from being uncomfortable.  It is a short book, a good read, and one of the most practical and effective books I have read on getting yourself to act.  Take action on your goals within five seconds of getting the urge.  Mel Robbins recommends counting down from five like you are a rocket about to blast off.

  1. Question Your Negative Thoughts

We all have moments of self-doubt.  That is especially true when we are fighting to do something that our mind continues to tell us we can’t.  When this happens, ask, “What if that voice is wrong?”  Follow that up with, “is it possible that if I take this course of action, I can overcome this self-doubt and get it done?  The truth is that all you need to do to make things happen is take the right action.  You are not those thoughts, and if you do what you know will work, you will get results.  Those negative thoughts are not true, and you can prove it by acting in spite of them.  If for some reason you fail, try again.  It took Thomas Edison ten thousand “failures” to invent the electric light bulb.  Did he fail? 

  1. Perform your tasks Mindfully

One of the things that makes it easier to think and talk about doing something than actually doing is chaos.  When you set out to do something hard and worth doing, there are usually a lot of moving pieces.  On top of that our minds are busy worrying about the outcome, and we put unneccesary pressure on ourselves.  The way to overcome this is to take a couple of deep breaths right before you start something, and deliberately and mindfully focus on the task.  Paying attention to every step.  If your mind starts to get busy, take another couple of deep breaths, and get back to doing the task mindfully.  Rinse and repeat.  This one takes a lot of practice, but I promise it works. 

Quarterbacks Tom Brady, Ben Rothlisburger, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rogers all share one trait. This trait is a big part of what makes them great quarterbacks.  It is their ability to act in the chaos on the field, and stay keenly aware of their environment.  There are Quarterbacks who exceed their purely athletic abilities, and yet you will never hear their name.

These great quarterbacks have not always had the necessary ability to deal with chaos on the field.  They practice endlessly and have lots of hours on the field in live play.  Becoming intimate with the experience is one of the components that gives them this ability to remain mostly calm in chaos.  There is something else though.

They all realize that they can’t be great alone, and understand that the pressure is spread across the field of play.  They depend and invest in their teammates, and use their coaches to see what they can’t. Before we can become great at anything we have to practice.  We also have to find teammates and coaches, and give them our best in exchange for theirs.    

Five Things You Wouldn’t Normally Do


Lives have been transformed by doing things we wouldn’t normally do..  I would like to challenge you this week to do five things you wouldn’t normally do. They can be as simple as changing up where you go for lunch.  You could also go to the other end of the spectrum and go skydiving.  Maybe this weekend you can grab the family and go to the go-kart track, or the tennis courts.

Why have so many lives been changed by this simple exercise?  Our minds tend to consistently guide us down the same path.  Have you heard of being stuck in a rut?  The rut is the normal mode of operation for your unconscious mind.  Have you repeatedly tried to start something new, and a few weeks later you are still doing the things you have always done?

We often don’t pick up on it, but our brains will take the path of least resistance.  The obvious path of least resistance is to do what you have always done.  By doing even small things differently than you normally would, can have a life changing impact.

If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got. 

– Zig Ziglar

Changing our daily decisions slightly will train our brain, by helping us to notice our brains taking us down the same path over and over again.  One of the biggest obstacles to creating real change in our lives is our natural desire to stay the same.  If you don’t like change, you are in good company.  Most of us don’t like change and don’t want to get out of our comfort zones.  Unfortunately comfort rarely gets us where we want to be.  

Don’t ignore this post, and please let me know how it goes for you.  You can drop me a note here.