Riding the Upward Spiral of Joy

You do have to realize you're bucking your brain's natural tendencies when you set out to put the happiness magic in action. It does take some work. On the other hand, the payoff is great. Happiness beats gloom and boredom hands down.

Vibrant, leafy spiral
Want to know some genuine happiness magic?

Here it is:  Practice enjoying positive experiences until they outweigh your negatives ones by a ratio of 3 to 1.  Do that, and you’ll be swept into an upward spiral of steadily increasing joy.

Actually, it’s not magic at all.  It’s just the way things work.  “What you focus on expands,” is as true of happiness as it is of anything else.  It really is that simple.

But what’s simple isn’t always easy.  And it’s not just you.  It’s all of us.

Wired for Negativity

The problem is that we’re wired for negativity.  Our pay-attention mechanisms are, the positivity scientists point out, “Velcro for problems; Teflon for joy.”   It’s one of those survival things.  We look for dangers in order to protect ourselves.

Dream Tiger
What our brains can't find, they make up.

Now safe is good.  You can’t argue with that.  But the number of man-eating tigers loose in the environment is far fewer than our Velcro brains want to believe.  Finding few tigers, they scour around for other scary stuff that might be lurking, and what they don’t find, they make up.  Before you know it, the whole world is a downright threatening place.

Add to that the fact that our brains love to problem-solve.  It’s one of their favorite things in the whole world.  How are you going to problem-solve if you don’t have any problems?  Better find some, our brains say, and quick.

Plus, because we’re made of joy, and joy is light, we’d go floating off into space if we didn’t have a little gravity in our lives.  (At least that’s my personal theory.)  Gravity keeps our feet on the ground.

So we have three essential reasons, right there, for nursing our negativity.  We work really hard at it.  We’ve built huge industries around it to make sure we have enough gravity and problems and fear.  You don’t have to worry about ever running out.

But you do have to realize you’re bucking your brain’s natural tendencies (not to mention the culture’s) when you set out to put the happiness magic in action.   It does takes some work.

On the other hand, the payoff is great.  Happiness beats gloom and boredom hands down.

Pumping Up Your Ratio

So how do you start pumping up your positivity ratio?

First: By deciding it’s what you want to do.  You make it your intention to gather all the positive goodies you can:  you decide to feel the gratitude, the serenity, the engagement, the delight and awe and love.  You wake up in the morning and remember that positivity is your primary focus for the day.  You remember that it’s your mission for the rest of your entire life.

Next: You remind yourself all day long, before every task, before every new activity.  You commit yourself to looking for the pleasure, the satisfaction,  or the challenge in everything that you’re doing.  You let yourself be interested in your tasks and mindful.  You bring to them your willingness to be present and appreciative.

Third: You train yourself to notice when you’re entertaining worry or anxiousness, when you’re complaining or blaming, or putting yourself buy meridia paypal or someone else down.  And when you catch yourself at it, when you notice that your attention is on someone or something that ruffled your feathers, or on some dreaded future task that you’ve already contemplated a dozen times or more, you stop yourself in your tracks.

You take a deep, wonderful breath, and find something that’s great about right this very minute.  You ask yourself, out of all the possibilities this moment holds, what’s the happiest thing you can do right now.

Maybe it’s just that you remembered to ask yourself how you can be happier now.  If the thought gave you a bit of relief, sparked a little smile, kindled a little hope or enthusiasm, you’ve got the magic.  Keep it rolling.  Go for that 3 to 1 ration, and ride the spiral from there.

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The Healing Power of Forgiveness – A Gentle Guide

When was the last time you leaped out of bed and said, "Man! What a great day to forgive Hank!"? Probably like, oh, never. But did you know that forgiveness is one of the post powerful means available for freeing all kinds of juicy, creative energy that you have trapped inside you?

Smiling Woman Waking UpWhen was the last time you leaped out of bed and said, “Man! What a great day to forgive Hank!”?  Probably like, oh, never.   But did you know that forgiveness is one of the post powerful means available for freeing all kinds of juicy, creative energy that you have trapped inside you?

Try this experiment:  Think about someone you need to forgive.  Go ahead.  Just think of them.

Got someone?  Maybe a few someones?  Well, the fact that anyone at all came to mind means you have some forgiving to do.  And until you do, you’re keeping a lot of perfectly great energy locked away where it’s not having any fun at all.  I say we do a jailbreak; let it loose.  You with me?

Here’s the deal.  Most of us avoid even thinking about forgiveness as if it were some horrendously painful process like, say, getting a root canal without anesthetic.  In fact, avoidance is one of the two parts of forgiving that we have to overcome before we can unlock its fabulous healing powers.

The other part is–get this—“a resistance to benevolence.”  Believe it or not, we actually dig in our heels and fight against opening our hearts to anyone who caused us pain–even when that anyone is us.

For the most part, we avoid forgiving because we don’t really understand what it means. We carry around a lot of false notions about it.  And like all the untruths we tell ourselves, they really get in our way.  They keep us small and locked in.

Myths of Forgiveness: Why We Resist

He Doesn’t Deserve It

One of the biggest mistakes we make when we think about forgiving someone is that believing that it’s something we’re doing for them, the ones who hurt us or made us mad.  Why should we do anything nice for that rotten piece of . . . Well, you get the idea.   But the truth is that forgiving is a gift we give ourselves–a gift of wondrous beauty, and freedom, and release.

I Won’t Feel Safe

Unforgiving Young WomanAnother false notion we have about forgiving is that we’re protecting ourselves from future wrongs and pains by holding on to what happened in the past.  It’s almost like a superstition; we hold on to the pain from the past as if it would prevent the same things from happening again. But the irony is that by holding onto our bitterness and anger, our fear and blame, we generate the very quality of energy that will bring us the same kind of problems until we “get” how to rise above them.  It’s like using the Law of Attraction to magnetize more difficulties toward ourselves.

Instead of shielding us from hurt, by maintaining that inner barrier against the one who did us wrong we’re really allowing the hurt to take up precious space in our consciousness. The energy we could be using to revel in life, to create joyous, satisfying experiences for ourselves is locked up maintaining our illusory defenses.    Think about it for a minute.  Who is all your anger hurting?  Hmmmmm?

It’s My Revenge

Okay, we don’t want to let the bad guys off the hook.  If we forgive them, we think, they’ll go scot-free. But in reality, what we think and how we feel about them is stuff that only lives inside us.  We’re the ones who suffer the pain, the hurt, the resentment, the anger–over and over, until we release it, until we let it go.   While we think, on some level, that we’re getting revenge (“I’ll fix him!  I won’t ever let go of how he hurt me!”).  But in fact all we’re doing is keeping our own hurt alive.

Whether it’s someone else who did us wrong, or some part of ourselves who betrayed us, nursing our resentment only ties us to the pain. As long as we make that person or that part of ourselves into a monster, it’s always there to poke at our fear and our pain. The monster is always there, forever feeding on our energy, keeping us from the peace and clarity and wholeness we desire and deserve.

Forget About Making Up

Another reason we resist forgiving is that we think we will have to befriend whomever hurt us, to smooth things over and pretend everything is okay between us.   But–and pay attention; this is important–forgiveness and reconciliation aren’t the same things.

You can forgive someone and never have to tell her or ever have to see her again. That’s because forgiveness–just like its absence–is something that you do within your own heart and mind.  And it can stay there, remaining as private as you want it to be.

Sure, forgiveness opens the door for the possibility of reconciliation.  You could decide to renew the relationship that was damaged by the hurt.  In many cases–when the person who hurt you is someone you really love, or when the injurious act was something you did to yourself–restoring the free flow of communication and enjoyment is a spontaneous and welcome result.  But sometimes you can simply let go of the pain, of clinging to it, and never plan to be in relationship with the person who evoked it again.  And that’s perfectly okay.  Forgiveness doesn’t always have to mean reconciliation.

We can forgive without any expectation of a response from the person who hurt us, or of our responding to her. Sometimes, interestingly, when we forgive people they surprise us with a pleasant response even when we keep our forgiveness completely inside ourselves.   Because we’re all connected on the quantum level, sometimes cheap propecia for sale our forgiveness flows into the lives of people we forgive and touches them with a new warmth. They might approach us with an offer to start over again.  But their response is wholly irrelevant to the act of forgiveness itself.  Forgiveness is something we do to heal our own hearts and minds.

What Forgiveness Isn’t

No KneelingCondoning and Forgetting

Forgiveness doesn’t mean saying bad behavior is okay or that you will permit it. In fact, it’s just the opposite.  Forgiving empowers you to embrace the kind of self-respect that doesn’t tolerate abuse.

Contrary to the familiar phrase, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, either. It doesn’t delete your memory of what happened.   It just gives you a different, softer way to look at it. You bring healing to your wounds by smoothing them with love and compassion – for yourself.

You still see the scar when you look at that part of your life.  But now it a symbol of your release from its pain, of your ability to have grown past it. Now you look toward your future with freshness and clarity instead of with apprehension and fear.

Forgiveness doesn’t change what happened.  It changes your view of what happened.  It changes you.  It frees you.

No Kneeling SignAccepting Blame

They say that when you point your finger at someone, your three remaining fingers are pointing back at you.  Sometimes we resist forgiving someone because we’re afraid we’ll have to admit that we have been capable of hatred.

The only was to overcome this fear is to be willing you recognize that all of us have the capacity for every human emotion–even the worst ones. Accepting that, you begin to see that the person who hurt you has that same capacity, too.  When he hurt you, some of the worst simply got the best of him.

No Kneeling SignFacing the Pain and Understanding Motives

“But won’t I have to face the pain if I try to forgive it?” some part of you may say.  “I don’t want to feel it all over again!” That’s why it takes courage to forgive.  Instead of automatically putting up defenses of anger and resentment, we need to acknowledge that we were genuinely injured.  But the part of us that keeps the pain alive, the part of us that is truly cowardly, is the part that wraps the memory in resistance and refuses to let it go.

Sometimes people think that forgiving means you need to get inside the offender’s mind and understand his or her motives.  The fact is you don’t need to know the whys beneath the act or acts that hurt you. All you really need to do is accept that what happened, happened.  What was, was.

A Better Past

In the final analysis, forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past. Some part of us believes that if we think about our old hurts long enough, maybe the past will somehow magically change.

Forgiveness is letting go of that belief. What happened did happen, and no about of remembering it or fearing it will change it.   But we can learn to look at it differently.  We can accept it.

We can begin to realize that our lives didn’t stop at the point of pain. We kept on having new experiences.  Our lives went on.  We continued to grow in other dimensions of our lives. And now, as we choose to let the pain go, we free ourselves to continue growing even further, expanding with more clarity and more openness than ever before.

How Forgiving Works

Forgiving is pressing the stop button on the old memory tape from the past.  The endless loop of outrage, offense, bitterness and sorrow that’s played over and over in your mind finally ceases to run.

Instead, you make the choice to put the tape on a back shelf to gather dust. Your interest in it simply fades away. It’s like waking up from a trance and rediscovering the present moment, the moment where your genuine power resides.

Ways to Heal

  • Start with the small stuff.  Make an intention to notice when you react to someone’s behavior with resentment or blame, and practice forgiving right then and there.  First, forgive yourself for your automatic response of taking offense.  Just because someone is being offensive doesn’t mean you have to feel offended.  That’s giving your power away.

Instead, remember that you can choose how to respond.  You can offer an apology, or say that you’re sorry they feel that way, or see if a misunderstanding has happened and straighten things out.  You can graciously recognize that they must be in pain themselves to be acting in such a rude manner and see if you can comfort or assist them in some way.  Offenses aren’t about you; they’re about the offender.

  • Practice forgiving yourself when you catch yourself acting in ways that fall short of your standards.  Apologize to yourself and allow yourself to feel compassion for the part of you that misbehaved or harbored an unworthy thought.  Try to discover what it is you need that generated your inappropriate thought or action.  Are you tired?  Hungry?  In need of a change of scenery or some exercise?
  • Thoughtful WomanWhen you’re dealing with a big or long-standing hurt, one of the most healing methods for overcoming your resistance to forgiveness is to write down all the positive things that happened as a result of the hurtful experience. Ask yourself what you learned from it. Make a list of the strengths you developed because it happened.  Are you more self-caring in other aspects of your life? In what ways are you more compassionate toward others who endured a similar hurt?   What new choices have you made because of what you learned?

People who write about the hidden benefits of the events that hurt them, studies show, develop new resilience and begin to look toward the future with renewed optimism and hope.

  • Pray for forgiveness, and for a forgiving heart.
  • Learn meridian tapping and use it in untangling your feelings about your hurt.  You can download a free manual on how to do it here.
  • Adopt the practice of ho’oponopono.  Learn to chant the phrases “I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you; I love you” throughout your day.
  • Write out a personal declaration of forgiveness and memorize it, or carry it with you on a little card that you can read whenever you need to reinforce your decision to forgive and to wish that the person who hurt you might live a better life. State your willingness to recall the good that came from the situation and to freely let go of it, to see it as a finished, past event.
  • Create some positive affirmations that you can repeat to yourself when your ‘hurt-tape’ starts running.  “Even though I was really frightened at the time, even though I was hurt and felt totally powerless, I am choosing to recognize the strength I have now.”

Woman Feeling ReleaseResistance to forgiving can be really strong.  But every gentle step we make to overcome us serves us well.  The more we move in its direction, the more we experience forgiveness as one of the kindest, most life-enhancing choices we can make.

As we let go, more and more, of our clinging to past wounds, we feel the upsurge of new harmony within ourselves and in relation to the whole world.  We taste the freedom to begin focusing on the abundant richness and possibilities the present holds.

Choose forgiveness.  Choose to claim the experience of its power and healing in your life, starting today.

Your Turn

What experiences have you had with forgiveness?  How did you learn to apply it in your life?  How did it do for you?  I’d love to hear about your experiences buy abilify online uk with it—or about the stumbling blocks that are keeping you from forgiving.  Let me know.

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Complaints, Comparisons and Blame: Is One of These Positivity-Busters Killing Your Joy?

If our intention is to build a life of positivity—of thriving, flourishing well-being and joy—we would do well to pay attention to the counsel of Confucius. “Let there be no evil in your thoughts. Or, as it’s echoed in the Western world by Hippocrates’ dictum, “First, do no harm.”

Live v Evil Graphic“If out of the three hundred songs I had to take one phrase to cover all my teachings, I would say ‘Let there be no evil in your thoughts.’” – Confucius

Evil, hey?  Now there’s a strong word for you.  Except in certain quarters, it’s fallen into general disuse these days, smacking as it does of moral judgments and all.  Yet here’s Confucius, master of wisdom, using it in an admonition that he says sums up all he has to say.  What do you suppose he means?

Well, at dictionary.com, the first meaning of “evil” is “immoral” or “wicked” –the meaning that’s driven the word underground for the politically correct.  But its second meaning, the dictionary says, is “harmful” or “injurious.”  And this, I think, is the meaning that Confucius intended.  “Think no harmful thoughts.”

In the English language, ‘evil’ is ‘live’ spelled backwards.  What limits life, what injures or stifles it, is evil.  And that’s exactly what we who wish to live full, rich, glowing lives want to avoid.

If our intention is to build a life of positivity—of thriving, flourishing well-being and joy—we would do well to pay attention to the counsel of Confucius.  “Let there be no evil in your thoughts.  Or, as it’s echoed in the Western world by Hippocrates’ dictum, “First, do no harm.”

The Faces of Evil

Black Robed MarchersIt’s easy to spot blatantly evil thoughts—the ones filled with loathing, rejection and rage.  We all have suffered from our hours of negative intensity.  But luckily, for most of us, total mental upset isn’t the norm.

For most of us, the positivity busters are the lesser, everyday evils that undermine our flourishing that we hardly notice at all.

They’re stealthy creatures, I tell you.  And more than that, they’re everywhere.  In fact, they are so everywhere, that in some places they’re accepted not only as the norm, but as high fashion, as if they were sophisticated or something.  Yuck!

If you’re going to live a positive life, you have to know how to recognize them and to be on guard for their appearance.

The Purpose of Negativity

Not every negative thought is harmful.  Living a positive life doesn’t mean you never have legitimate concerns or genuine challenges.  To live positively is to live face-to-face, full-on in the midst of the real world—with all its brutality, suffering, setbacks and ignorance—in a creative and healthy way.

The purpose of negativity is to call our attention to problems so that we can begin to deal with them constructively.  Think of it as a variety of pain.  It’s a signal that we need to notice something is wrong.  The harm comes when we get stuck in the identification stage and don’t move from there toward discovering ways to solve, or manage, or creatively cope.  Getting stuck in negativity is like becoming a hypochondriac who’s always searching for evidence of disease.

The first step to take to keep from getting stuck, or to break free when negativity has become a persistent part of your life, is to look at the pattern of your habitual negative thoughts.

In general, they come in three forms:

  • Complaints
  • Comparisons and
  • Blame.

Dragon Clutching AppleThese are the fault-finding devils.  They scour our worlds–both the outside world and our personal, inner ones—for flaws and feed on them, using them as fuel to reproduce.  Keep feeding them and pretty soon your whole experience is swarming with them.

They’re harmful because when they swarm they steal our abilities to see reality clearly and to respond to it in open, healthy and creative ways.

Let’s take a look at how they work.

Complaining

Unhappy WomanBy putting you in a chronic state of looking-for-things-that-are-wrong, complaining pumps your stress level.  It builds and perpetuates your discomfort and unease.  It narrows your focus and keeps you fixated on problems.  And what we focus on always expands in our experience.  The world is as filled with good as it is with bad; but when we’re primarily focused on finding problems, problems are what we’ll see.

Complaining is such a common toxin in our social environment that we don’t even recognize how often we fall victim to it.  Maybe you remember the purple bracelet phenomenon that swept the country a few years back.  Minister Will Bowen started a movement at his church where everybody got a purple bracelet to wear, and when they caught themselves complaining, they had to switch it to the opposite wrist, just to help them notice how often they were doing it.

The idea swept the country. Bowen eventually wrote about it in his book, A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted,and even landed on Oprah’s show calling the viewers’ attention to their tendencies to complain.

People who tried his purple bracelet technique were amazed to find out how often they complained, and how frequently complaining formed the basis of their conversations.  Look back over the past week and see how many of your own conversations were really just gripe sessions—about the weather, the traffic, the government, your losing sports team, management’s latest proposal, your partner’s bad habits or your kids’ unwelcome new behavior.

Gripe-Fests, Gossip and Commiseration

Complaining is particularly pernicious when it becomes a group gripe-fest, where everyone in the conversation is trying to top the last guy’s complaint with one that’s even bigger.  While it’s disguised as bonding, in reality it’s hostile, evoking the participants’ anger, hurt and dissatisfaction and elevating the stress levels of everyone involved.

Women Sharing ComplaintsLike gripe-fests, gossip is seeking to form bonds, too.  You think you’re letting someone into your inner circle by sharing confidential information about someone—most of which is better left unsaid at all.  Gossiping proves to others that you’re not to be trusted with their private, personal stories, that you will capitalize on someone else’s misery or mistake for your own gain.

Sometimes complaining takes the form of commiserating, reinforcing someone’s perception of herself, or of her group, as a victim.  On the surface, commiserating may look like sympathetic concern, but what it really does is deepen beliefs in helplessness.  It disempowers.

If you find yourself involved any of these kinds of social complaining, the best course is to remain silent and simply observe what’s happening.  Or, if you have a chance, steer the conversation in a more positive direction.

Criticizing

Criticizing, someone said, is complaining with an edge.  Whether it’s aimed at someone else or at you yourself, criticism is a complaint made personal.

Boss Criticizing WomanAimed at someone else, it’s a sign of insecurity, a cheap ego maneuver we use to bolster our own status by pointing out how lousy someone else is, or looks, or does something.  Uttered to someone’s face, it’s manipulative and controlling.  Always, it’s a fault-finding behavior that keeps us from appreciating the good in others.  Instead, it drives wedges between people.

When you continually criticize people, you destroy the trust and confidence of everyone around you.  They come to suspect you have knives to throw at their backs, too, the moment they turn them.

When turned inward, criticism is a signal of flagging self-esteem, a way of punishing ourselves for falling short of some ideal.  But worse, it robs us of our ability to look objectively for constructive ways we can move in happier directions.  It’s a kind of self-defeating cowardice, a surrender of our power to control our own lives.

“But sometimes,” you might say, “criticism is meant to be helpful, to show someone a better way to do what they’re doing or to help them recognize and correct a mistake.”  True enough.  And if you need to deliver those kinds of suggestions to people—or to yourself–you’ll find some excellent guidelines on how to do it with kindness in this article by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits.net.

Comparing

Have you any idea how amazing you are?  How one-of-a-kind?  Who you are this very minute is so huge and valuable and profound that words cannot describe you.  When you try to understand yourself by comparing yourself to something or someone else, to squeeze all that you are into one tiny definition or to weigh your worth by making lists of what you think you are not, how it hurts your soul!

Comparing one person to another to see who is “better,” makes people into objects and segments them into pieces.  Learn to see people as unique, complex wholes, each valuable in his or her own priceless way.

All of us want to understand ourselves and others more deeply, and part of that is understanding who we are in a social context.  But we need to bear in mind that no one expresses every trait equally.  We are each a unique combination of attributes and abilities, of talents, strengths and skills.  And it’s in living these most fully that we find meaning and joy.

To look to others for ways in which we can use our personal attributes more creatively, more powerfully, more broadly or with more focus is to learn from them.  But to spend one instant in sorrow or pain, or to rate ourselves less valuable because someone else’s attributes are not ours is to blind ourselves to who we are.   And to compare pieces of one person to another is not to see either of them at all.

Blaming

Pointing a Finger of BlameLike complaining and criticizing, blaming is another way we have of passing the responsibility buck to someone else instead of accepting it ourselves.   And like all evasions of personal responsibility, it’s a surrender of our personal power.

Yes, sometimes other people fail to meet our expectations or to keep their promises, and our lives take different turns or seem more complicated as a result.  And yes, disappointment hurts.  But seldom do people fail you intentionally or with malice in their hearts.  And blaming never solves the problem; it only evades it, leaving the deeper complication of resentment in its tracks.

The Paths to Positivity

Because these three varieties of negativity are everywhere around us, we all fall prey to them.  But they do rob us of our well-being; they do steal our optimism, our serenity, our abilities to respond to life with creativity and gratitude and joy.

The answer is to become aware of how automatic they are in our own individual lives and to make it our business to replace them with helpful, loving, solution-oriented thoughts.  Here’s how:

1.  Notice Your Negativity

If you want to build your positivity quotient, you do have to become aware of the number of complaining, comparing, and blaming thoughts you allow yourself to entertain.  Start out by making it a goal to recognize them.

  • You don’t have to wear a purple bracelet to catch yourself complaining, although outward reminders aren’t a bad idea at all.  If you like the idea of a wristband, get one.  Or use a simple rubber band—and to double its effect, snap yourself with it before you move it to your other wrist.
  • When you take a break for lunch, or at the end of your day, review your conversations.  How many of them were focused on complaints, or comparisons, or blame?  What did you contribute?  What might you have done differently?
  • Journal about the complaints, comparisons or blaming you noticed yourself expressing throughout your day.  How did you feel while you were doing it?  Did you notice other people caught in their grips?  What did you think about that?
  • Share the exercise of spotting these three forms of negativity with a friend and compare notes with each other.  See how you can help each other find ways to become more solution-oriented.

2.  Acknowledge the Thought

Accept your negative thought habits as a type of thought that you have learned to entertain.  Don’t fight against it, just notice and observe it, the same way you would begin to notice your automatic reaching for a donut if you chose to start watching your weight, or to catch your urge to make an impulse purchase if you had decided to live within your budget.  Just say, “Oh!  There’s that habitual thought pattern again.” Recognize it, realize it’s just a thought, and then let it go.”

3.  Be Easy on Yourself

Look at changing your thought patterns as an interesting and beneficial exercise, no different than doing sit-ups or learning to make walking a part of your day.

If you discover that you want to beat yourself up, or to label yourself ‘bad’ because such a thought popped into your awareness, try doing a couple rounds of ho’oponopono:  Say, “I’m sorry; please forgive me.  Thank you (for helping me to recognize this thought); I love you (for the new awareness you’re giving me)” until you feel lighter, self-accepting and at ease.  Or try a couple rounds of tapping if you prefer, using a script such as, “Even though I’m feeling critical/Even though I want to complain and blame, I wholly lexapro online kaufen and completely accept myself.”

You don’t, after all, want to trade in a complaining or critical thought for a blaming one that’s just as harmful.  (See?  They really are sneaky critters!)

3.  Look for Alternative Views.

If you’re complaining, change your focus.  Look for what’s right in the situation. Look for ways you can change the situation or make the best of it.  Look more broadly at the situation to find things in it you can appreciate or for hidden opportunities it holds.  Ask what your higher self would do and listen for an answer.

If you’re criticizing, stop.  Change your focus.  Identify what you want instead of what you don’t want and see what creative approaches you can take to move toward it.  Look for solutions.  Look for ways to be helpful.  Above all, ask how you can approach the situation with greater kindness, with a more open mind and heart.

If you’re blaming someone else for your problems, stop and ask yourself what you might have done to prevent them, or to help the other person be more accountable.  Accept that something you did, or failed to do, may have played a part in creating the situation and look for constructive ways to move ahead.

If the situation is outside your range of influence or control, work to accept it as it is and to look for ways to deal with it creatively.  Bathe the person involved, whether it’s someone else or you yourself, in forgiveness for the current situation and in appreciation for all the things they or you do that are good and right.  Then turn your attention to correcting the parts of the problem that can be corrected, discovering a different way to go forward, or developing new plans or a new approach.

Celebrate the Rewards

People on Beach Jumping for JoyOnce you begin eliminating criticism, comparisons and blame from your thoughts, you’ll be amazed at how much lighter and more enjoyable life becomes.

When you look for what’s right instead of what’s wrong, what might work instead of what doesn’t, your creative juices really begin to surge.

When you look for ways to lift people up instead of tearing them down, you discover how beautiful they are, how lovable, and how much they actually like you in return.  You begin attracting positive attention and drawing new opportunities your way.  You find that people consider you engaging and want to spend time with you lift their spirits, because you see them so clearly, in such a good light.

What’s more, your problem-solving abilities expand; you see more possibilities and solutions in challenging situations.  When somebody crushes your apples, you add a stick of cinnamon and have an energizing snack.  You become more versatile, more flexible, and more innovative.  Your optimism gets a boost because you begin to see that there’s always a way.

Like any positivity practice, learning to adopt a new way of thinking takes patience and time.  But with every step you make forward, you’ll feel new freedom and empowerment bolstering your commitment.  In the end, the ancient advice from Confucius is still relevant for us today.  Keep evil from your thoughts and discover the beauty and truth that are left behind.

Your Turn

Have complaining, comparing and blaming been problems in your life?  How did you raise your own awareness of them?  What ways have you used to overcome them?  How has your life changed by taking a different approach?  Share you thoughts and ideas.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Magic at Your Fingertips: The Positive Power of EFT Tapping

Even though I’m about to tell you that a little process you can easily learn will fix darned near everything that keeps you from being your best, I know from personal experience that it positively works. I’ll even give you a chance to put it to the test yourself, absolutely free.

I know that you know better than to believe in cure-alls.  I know that what I’m about to say is likely to make me sound like a snake-oil salesman to some of you.  But bear with me.

Even though I’m about to tell you that a simple process you can easily learn will fix darned near everything that keeps you from being your best, I know from personal experience that it positively works.  I’ll even give you a chance to put it to the test yourself, absolutely free.

The positivity practice I’m talking about is “meridian tapping” or “EFT” (for “emotional freedom technique,” the original name for the process.)  You may have heard of it and decided it’s some kind of silly hocus-pocus.  Or, like me, you may have used it casually now and then, but never really grasped its genuine power.  If so, I want to tell you that I’ve given it another look, and I’m no longer holding back with it.

What changed my mind was a DVD that let me see how awesomely powerful meridian tapping really is.  And since seeing it, I’ve been using tapping consistently on, well, just about everything—with beautiful results.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First, let me tell you what meridian tapping is.

Fairy Dust or Fact?

Fairy with Light in Her HandsBased on the same knowledge that underlies acupuncture and accupressure, meridian tapping is a process of painlessly tapping with your fingers on specific points of your head and upper chest to release blocked energy.

What?  You tap on your head with your fingers and your problems go away? In a host of cases, the answer is a definite and dramatic yes.

Of course you’re right; there’s no such thing as a magic cure-all.  But meridian tapping goes an awfully long way in that direction.  Essentially, what it allows you to do is delete detrimental programs from your brain and install beneficial ones in their place.

Even though buy gabapentin for cats Western medicine is now embracing the effectiveness of methods based on the ancient Eastern knowledge of our bodies’ energy system, because a physical mechanism for it remains unidentified many people mistakenly cling to the notion that it’s nothing but a woo-woo, New Age belief.

If you’re in that camp, may I gently suggest that you reconsider the matter?  An open mind is a benchmark of positive inquiry into any topic, and a little investigation will show you that physicians, psychiatrists and therapists all over the world are using tapping  in conjunction with traditional buy adipex in kentucky therapies and obtaining remarkable outcomes.  And it’s a wouldn’t-do-without-it practice for celebrities like Joe Vitale, whom you may remember from The Secret.  Joe has used it for 25 years.

How Does It Work?

When we’re distressed by a trauma, whether physical or emotional, we withdraw and contract as a natural response.  The natural, easy flow of energy through our system is squeezed and knots up.  It gets stuck, remaining as memory in our bodies.

Tapping in a special way on certain spots—EFT master Dr. Patricia Carrington calls them “comfort spots”– releases the trauma-induced blockages and allows our energy to flow freely again.  It’s sort of like the way that removing plaque from a blocked artery allows blood to return to its free flowing state.  When your energy is free to flow as it was meant to flow, near-miraculous things happen:

  • Relief from physical illnesses and quick healing of injuries, including high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, cuts, bites, burns, migraines, allergies, asthma, back pain, neuropathy, muscle strains, carpal tunnel and more;
  • Addiction relief;
  • Weight control;
  • Improved relationships;
  • Relief from emotional illnesses, including depression, anxiety, phobias, ADD-ADHA, OCD, PTSD and more;
  • Vision improvement, help with dyslexia, enhanced reading ability;
  • Enhanced sports performance;
  • Enhanced school, career and arts performance;
  • Improved finances and abundance;
  • And much more!

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Page through some of the hundreds of success stories here and you’ll begin to see what I mean when I say this technique packs nearly magical power.

The Positivity Breakthrough

Smiley Face ButtonsJust as positive psychology evolved from the study of mental rtetracyclineuse.com illness to emerge as the science of what’s right about human beings, tapping has recently evolved as a powerful means of strengthening and reinforcing the positive factors of our mental, emotional and spiritual layers.

For me, this is one of the most exciting applications of tapping and the aspect of it that I have been exploring with the most fervor in my own life.  I warmly invite you to explore tapping toward greater freedom and growth by trying it in conjunction with all your positivity practices:

  • Use it while you tune into your gratitude and feel it expand your heart, and move you into states awesomely deeper appreciation.
  • Use it to reinforce your serenity and you’ll flow into incredible levels of inner peace.
  • Use it to focus yourself in the present, to show up fully, right now.
  • Use it in your creative endeavors and watch your imagination burst with new ideas.
  • Use it to problem-solve and see how new insights and angles of approach unfold for you.
  • Use it as you hold warm thoughts for your family, friends and loved ones and feel your appreciation for them expand and deepen.
  • Use it to reinforce positive habits you’re working to grow and see them become easier and more naturally a part of your life.
  • Use it in conjunction with your meditation  to enhance the effects of both techniques.
  • Use it with your law of attraction work to get into greater alignment with the focus of your desires.

Use it on all the things that are holding you back, stealing your confidence, inhibiting your courage and stifling your imagination.  Use it to overcome frustration and to bounce back quickly from setbacks and disappointments.  Use it as you visualize goals and achievements you want to attain.

Ready to Give it a Try?

Book Cover: 44 Seconds to FreedomTo make it a snap for you to learn the basics so you can take it for a test drive yourself, I’m pleased to offer you a wonderfully comprehensive and easy to follow manual that was written by my friend and master-mind partner Charles Burke.  Just click this link and download it, free of charge, thanks to Charles.

Charles, who once had the pleasure of interviewing Gary Craig, the man who brought tapping to the world’s attention, is a long-time practitioner of tapping himself and often uses it with remarkable success in his own consulting and training work.

What Next?

Take the time to explore some of the available resources.  YouTube offers a wealth of how-to guides on the subject, the best ones being those by Nick Ortner and Brad Yates.  Type either name into YouTube’s search bar to find them.  Most of all, take time to experience tapping for yourself.

Of all the positivity tools I can recommend, it ranks among the top few in power and effectiveness.  It’s like having a magic wand that you can carry with you anywhere and put to beneficial use in almost every aspect of your life—and offer to those you care about and love.

As with any positivity practice, a quick once-through won’t show you its full power.  While tapping can – and often does – produce such instantaneous relief that it many times seems miraculous, to gain the full benefit of it, you’ll need to give it a fair try. The process is more sophisticated than it looks on the surface and it takes time to learn and practice its nuances.  A lot of our energy blockages, after all, have been reinforced and buried in our bodies and minds since childhood.  Nevertheless, it’s the express route to freedom.  Give it a try.  What have you got to lose?

And do me a favor.  Let me know what kind of results show up for you when you put it to work for you, will you?   I’d really like to know.  I expect to be posting more information about tapping in the future.  If you have a favorite resource you would like to share or a story about how tapping helped you, please do pass it along.

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Can You Hear Me Now? A Positive Guide to Listening Well

Few things boost our positivity levels as much as the acts of kindness that let others know that we value them. That’s why learning to listen well is an A-list Positivity Practice. It’s a hallmark act of kindness. It heaps good feelings on the speaker and the listener alike. To listen with an open heart, a clear mind, and attentive presence is a wholly enriching experience. It’s a relationship-builder par excellence.

Three Friends Relaxing TogetherWe didn’t need science to tell us so—although it does, in study after study: We humans thrive on connection with each other.  It’s what jazzes us the most, gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us going.

Feeling that we matter, that others respect us, enjoy our company and care about us is a huge part of living well.  And few things boost our positivity levels as much as the acts of kindness that let others know that we value them in turn.

That’s why learning to listen well is an A-list Positivity Practice.  It’s a hallmark act of kindness.   It heaps good feelings on the speaker and the listener alike.  To listen with an open heart, a clear mind, and attentive presence is a wholly enriching experience.  It’s a relationship-builder par excellence.

And yet, surprisingly, very few of us listen well.  Some studies say that only a quarter to a half of what we hear makes enough of an impression on us for us to remember it.

Say Again?

That’s one of the reasons we like recorded lessons so much.  We can play them over and over and get new information from them every time we hear them.

In fact, when I was teaching leadership management years ago, we asked the executives taking the course to listen to the week’s recorded lessons every day between our sessions.  That’s because research showed us that it took listening to six spaced repetitions of the material before people could glean all the important points that were being presented.

Me-Centered Listening

Part of the reason we have so much trouble registering what we hear is that our minds race off on the tangents that pop up as we listen.   For the data-filtering part of our brain, listening is all about us.  Its number one job is sort through the jillions of bits of incoming sensory data for the parts that are most relevant to our safety and well-being.   As we search through our own experiences to put meaning to what we’re hearing, our attention goes careening off on the associations that spring up.

Bill tells you that he wants to milk his new opportunity for all its worth, and suddenly you remember that you have to stop and get milk on the way home, and home reminds you about that meeting with Jimmy’s teacher tonight and how are you going to get him to do better with his homework. Man, he’s sure been sloughing off with that . . . and now Bill is six sentences down the road and you have no idea what you missed.

Listening to the Past

In classifying incoming data, our data filters also screen out things that we have classified as safe or familiar.  When we’re talking with someone we know fairly well, we have already categorized them in our minds.  We don’t expect to hear anything radically new or different from them, so our data filters switch to low priority mode and we listen with less than full alertness.  Rather than hearing our partner, subordinate, child or friend with fresh interest and curiosity, we tend to listen from a space of preconceived notions, hauling all our shared history into the current moment.

Changing Filters

The good news is that you can program your data filter to give priority attention to a broader range of things that enhance your well-being.  Once it understands that relating to others is important to you, it will signal you with cues to listen more attentively.

Programming it is easy.  It’s just a matter of sincerely intending to get all you can from listening to other people.  Remind yourself at the beginning of the day.  Then practice reminding yourself that you really want to listen every time you begin a conversation.  Your genuine desire and willingness to listen are major keys to success.

Your data-filter is highly sensitive.  It catches even the most subtle pieces of information.  Take advantage of that by asking it to keep on the look out for the emotional signals the other person is giving off.  You want to stay focused on her body language and facial expressions.  You want to notice her tone of voice and the little pauses that might indicate a reluctance or inability to say what she really feels.

Listening with Your Heart

Listening for the emotional content of someone’s talk lets you connect with him on the heart level.   As you get glimpses into the other person’s hopes and fears, your empathy kicks in.  He becomes more real to you; you identify with him more and the barriers between you soften.

Man Listening to FriendEven when his feelings seem exaggerated to you or based on what you perceive as erroneous or misguided beliefs, knowing what the feeling itself is like allows you to respect his reality instead of judging it.  And by respecting his reality, you gain his respect – and trust – in return.  He’s more likely to confide in you in the future, deepening the level of intimacy between you and laying the groundwork for an increasingly meaningful relationship.

To listen with you heart, keep your own body relaxed and open. Imagine that you’re breathing from your heart as you take in the other person’s words, receiving them with appreciation, as if you were receiving a gift—for, in fact, you are, even in the most superficial exchange.  When you find your attention drifting away, gently bring it back to your heart, relax and open yourself again so you can be more receptive.

The Courtesies of Listening

Effective listening is governed by courtesies that go far beyond simple politeness.  While they’re based on a generosity and respect that honors the other’s importance as equal to your own, they also provide insight into the process of good listening.

Paying Attention, for example, not only demonstrates your presence to the other person, allowing her to feel acknowledged, it alerts your data filters to switch into high-priority mode so you will garner the maximum amount of information from your conversation.

Not Interrupting trains you to keep your thoughts focused on the other person instead of on your own point of view.  Practicing it is an exercise in mindfulness.  You learn to release your ego-centricity and to relax into the moment at hand with openness to receiving its treasures.  You gain a more complete understanding of what the other person is trying to convey.

Man Attentively ListeningSuspending Other Activities while you listen – turning down the sound on the TV, looking away from your monitor, setting down your tool or pen –  not only signals to the other person that you are giving her your full attention, but it reminds you that listening well is your genuine intent.  Taken deeper, suspending other activities also means that you suspend forming mental rebuttals or thinking of stories you want to tell; you give yourself fully to listening.

Reinforcing the Other’s Statements with a nod of your head, a simple “uh huh,” a facial expression or with a question that asks for clarification supports the other person and keeps you actively engaged and in the flow of the exchange.

Providing Feedback by asking if you understood something correctly or by paraphrasing what the other person said demonstrates your interest and shows that you genuinely want to understand—and to prevent misunderstandings between you, which is obviously beneficial to you both.  It’s always appropriate to say, “If I heard you correctly, you meant . . .” or  “Am I getting this right?  Are you saying that . . .”

It’s especially good to ask these kinds of questions if you felt the buy furosemide tablets online uk other person was challenging you or insulting you in some way.  You may very well have misunderstood and it’s far better to clear things up than to walk away feeling disturbed or angry for no reason.

Thanking the Other Person for what he shared allows both of you to feel the positivity of connecting.  Think how it uplifted you the last time someone said, “I always enjoy talking with you.”

The Positive Practice of Listening Well

Practicing the art of listening will teach you more about yourself than it will about others.  As you go along, your self-discipline and patience will increase, and you will gain in your ability to be heart-centered and present in the moment.

In the beginning, you may find it a bit uncomfortable to observe how much your own interests and desires dominate your encounters with others, and how little attention you have really given to their interests and concerns up until now.  It can be a tad painful sometimes to   discover how fully your ego has run the show, or how mindless you generally are when you interact with other people.

But take heart, practicing listening brings immediate rewards.  Not only will the people in your life begin to respond to you with new interest and begin revealing more of themselves to you, but you’ll begin to find that to really listen is a rich and fascinating practice.  Day after day, its nuances and complexities will appear and you’ll soon discover that the practice of listening has significant depth to it.

Because learning to listen well means breaking old patterns and habits, it does require focus and commitment on your part.  To succeed, you must genuinely commit yourself to listening.

How to Practice Listening

1. Begin by making the commitment to become an expert listener.

2. Then one by one, practice each of the courtesies, making them listening exercises.  You may want to jot down the list of courtesies on a card to carry with you to review.

Focus on a different one each day, or choose one to focus on for a week, or a month, until it begins to be natural for you.

3. At the end of each day, think back over the conversations you had and review them in your mind.  What was the topic?  Did you learn something new about it?  How did the other person feel about it?  What about it was important to him or her?

Ask yourself how well you did with that day’s target courtesy.  What did you learn by practicing it?  What did you notice or learn about the other person?  What did you learn about yourself?

If you keep a journal, writing about your listening practice will shed even more light on its value and on the areas where you need to put your focus.  If you have identified your core strengths, you may find it interesting to think about how you can apply some of your top five to listening.

The Rewards

Magic happens when you begin truly listening to others.  Marriages strengthen, friendships take on new depth, families grow closer, business associates engage with new harmony and even casual relationships take on more warmth.

When you learn to listen well, you’ll find people being drawn to you as never before.  You’ll command more respect from others, understand them more fully, and enjoy their company on whole delicious new levels.

Even if you decide to practice listening just on a trial basis for a couple of days or so, you’ll notice the difference it will make in your positivity level.  You’ll be more alert, and feel more connected to everyone around you, seeing them in a different light.

When you take it on as a serious, committed practice and begin to experience the increasing depth and meaning in your relationships, you’ll consider the time you invested in learning to listen well some of the best time you have ever spent.

Our connections with others give our lives zest and meaning.  And nothing creates stronger bonds with others and makes them more eager to spend time with us than listening to them with genuine interest and an open heart.

Let me know how you do with your listening practices and what you discover along the way.  I would love you hear about your experiences with it.

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