Four Simple Phrases That Change Everything

Because your heart and mind are no longer constricted by negativity, you discover that you are more creative and inventive, more open to the broad range of possibilities that each moment holds . . .

MantraI first learned about the four phrases of Dr. Hew Len’s Ho’oponopono (Ho-oh-pono-pono) in 2007 through Dr. Joe Vitale’s book, Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More.   In the book, Vitale describes how he came across a story that seemed to him wholly unbelievable.

According to the story, a Hawaiian psychiatrist, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, had cured the entire population of a prison’s mental ward without ever encountering a single inmate face to face.  Instead, Dr. Hew Len, performed a process he called “cleaning” as he sat in his office and reviewed each of the inmates’ medical charts.

As reported, the story seemed ludicrous.  It flew not only in the face of science, but of common sense.  Surely some part of the narrative was missing, Vitale thought.  And yet he was intrigued.  If it was true as it stood, he had to find out more about what seemed a genuinely miraculous process.  And that’s exactly what he did, and exactly what he found.

The book is a great read, and I recommend it.  But the heart of it is that Dr Hew Len’s process, evolved from the ancient Hawaiian spiritual tradition of Ho’oponopono, consists in mindfully repeating four simple phrases:

I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.
I love you.

It doesn’t matter whether you think you are saying them to God, Source, Spirit, the Universe, your Higher Self, or your inner mind.  It only matters that you say them sincerely, from your heart.  Direct them in the way that has the most meaning for you.

You can chant all four together as a mantra, or repeat a single phrase in response to whatever perception or thought you find yourself entertaining.

The Practice

Begin by simply repeating the four phrases together:  I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank you.  I love you.  I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank you.  I love you.

Repeat them as you walk, as you drive, as you go about your daily tasks.  Let them become the default state of mind for you, replacing the random rambling of your ordinary buy lamisil over the counter thoughts.  Play with them over the span of a month; make the mantra your grand obsession.  Watch how it opens you and frees you as you put it into play.

Restoring Positivity

“I’m Sorry.  Please Forgive Me.”

If your goal is to focus on the positive—on those things that produce satisfaction, meaning, serenity, and joy—and you notice that you have been lost in replaying an argument you had with someone, or that you are wrapped in images of hurt, criticism, complaint or blame, you can instantly refocus by repeating, “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me,” from your heart until you feel a sense of peace.

“Thank You.  I Love You.”

Then, as peace enters you – and if you are genuine in asking for forgiveness, peace will indeed enter – you can respond to it with “Thank you.  I love you.”  Your thanks is for the gift of recognizing the negative thought, and for the relief that came when you chose to apologize for it.  Your love is an appreciation for choosing to let go of the negative, to embrace the healing, the cleansing of it from your mind.  And with your sincere utterance of gratitude and love, you set off a wave of joy.

You Are Responsible

According to the teachings of Ho’oponopono (and just about every other system of well-being as well), you are responsible for everything that you experience.  Everything you see, think, notice, hear and feel is a creation of your own mind.  All your reactions and interpretations are of your making, based in memories from the past.

Have you become upset?  Are you irritated? Pressured? Repulsed?  Disgusted? Distressed?  Accept that you are reacting to nothing but memory, apologize and ask forgiveness, over and over and over again, until you feel release.  Then give thanks for the grace that cleansed your mind and freed you from the weight of your burden.

Heartfelt I'm SorryCircumstances arise that expose us to our shadows, to the places in us where darkness dwells.  They come as teachers, to give us an opportunity to see our errors of interpretation and to shine the correcting light of truth on them.  Ho’oponopono’s mantra brings the correcting light.  It’s not necessary to understand what caused the darkness or why; you only need to release it, and the mantra ushers in the release.

When a troublesome person enters your sphere, he or she, too, has come to teach you peace and joy.  As you watch your automatic negative reactions rise, begin your inner mantra.  “I’m sorry that I react to this person so negatively.  I’m sorry that I have closed my heart and mind.  I’m sorry that I’m not really listening, that I’m not seeing the person behind the behavior.  Please forgive me.  I’m sorry.  Thank you.  I love you.”

Seeking ForgivenessWhether you think so at the moment or not, on some level you love even the annoying or threatening one who is standing before you. In different circumstances, at a different time, you would clearly see what is there to be loved.  Repeat “I love you” as you listen to the rant.  See how it calms and centers you.  See how it softens the moment.  See how it impacts and transforms not only you but the one who came to teach you in the first place.

Moments of Beauty and Joy

When you first begin the practice of reciting this mantra, you may find that many repetitions are needed before you feel it doing its work in you.  But after you have some experience, a single whisper of “I’m sorry” will immediately dissolve your negativity and leave a bright and peaceful positivity in its place.

Your “thank you” will steadily grow more heartfelt and more joyful, and the “I love you” will pour from you in sparkling streams.  More of your moments will be spent in positivity—in engagement, amusement, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration and awe.  Then the “thank you; I love you” becomes a vehicle for the up-welling of pleasure and delight, a means for expressing your genuine gratitude for life’s boundless goodness and grace.

Thank You! I Love You!Expanded Possibilities

When you are no longer reacting to the present moment on the basis of something you learned or experienced in the past—whether the ‘past’ was two seconds or decades ago—you are released to live in the present.  You begin to see things as they are, uncolored by your projections and interpretations.

And because your heart and mind are no longer constricted by negativity, you discover that you are more creative and inventive, more open to the broad range of possibilities that each moment holds, more playful, more at peace.  In a word, you become happier.  And isn’t that, after all, what each of us truly wants?


Your Best Possible Self

Bright FutureWhen you gaze along your time line toward your future, how bright does it look?

How vivid is the picture?  How much promise does it hold?

When your vision of the future holds the possibility of excitement and fulfillment for you, it not only casts a glow on your present, but it shapes your current decisions in where can i buy zantac 150 a way that makes the fulfillment of its promise more likely.

Chances are you expect your future to work out reasonably well.  You have a loose sense of how you would like to be living, what you would like to have achieved, what areas of your life will have blossomed two, three, five years down the road.

But, since it’s in the future, and you have no way of knowing what will happen between now and then, you probably haven’t invested much of yourself in fleshing out the details of the picture.

What would happen if you did?  What if you invested some time in creating a full-blown image of the way your life would look five years down the road if everything went spectacularly well for you between now and then?

That’s what Professor Laura King at the University of Missouri-Columbia set out to discover back in 2001.  She pioneered the first experimental study of optimism by having a group of participants do what’s come to be known as the Best Possible Self exercise—and that’s the Positivity Practice we’re going to explore today.

I’ll describe the exercise first, and then share with you the fabulous benefits you can expect to gain by doing it yourself.  Here’s how it works:

The Practice

If you haven’t yet started a Positivity Journal, now’s the perfect time.  In any case, dedicate some paper or electronic space to doing this practice.  Here’s how:

1. Carve out 20 minutes where you can write undisturbed.  Have a way to time yourself and stick with it for the full 20 minutes.   Even if at first it feels like a daunting challenge, once you begin, you will find yourself relaxing and getting into the flow.

2. Select a future time frame: two years from now, three, five, ten—whatever feels good to you.  Sit quietly for a moment with your eyes closed, relaxing and watching your breath.  When you feel centered in yourself, begin writing whatever comes to mind about the Best Possible Self you can imagine in the future point that you chose.

Now here’s the good part:  Imagine that everything has gone wonderfully well for you, that you put worked toward you goals with diligence, patience, persistence and playfulness.  And now you have manifested your own best potentials and created your life dreams. What would your life be like then?  Write for 20 minutes about this Best Possible Self.

3. Stop at the end of 20 minutes, sit quietly again, allowing what you have written to settle inside you, and then put your work aside.

4. Over the course of the next four weeks, add to your vision whenever you feel like it, taking as much or as little time as you like.

You may want to use our Dream Creation Diagram to broaden your picture so it includes everything you might want it to hold.

What You’ll Gain

  • To sustain positivity at a high level in your life, says the godfather of happiness research, Martin Seligman, you need to cultivate it in all three segments of your time line: past, present and future.  By doing The Best Possible Self practice, you create the most positive future for yourself that you can imagine .
  • In addition, you will probably find that, like the participants in the studies who utilized this practice, you’ll feel an immediate boost in your mood right now, in the present, be happier several weeks afterward, and even have fewer physical symptoms three months down the road.
  • The practice is far more than an indulgence of your imagination.  By helping you clarify your ideals, it motivates you to be your best possible self today, to see the path ahead more clearly and to make decisions in alignment with your goals.
  • The very act of writing forces you to slow down and really think about your ideals.  Because it is a structured activity, it leads you to organize your thoughts, to clarify and crystallize them.  It helps you see where some of your goals might conflict with each other, leading you to think them through and prioritize or adapt them.
  • The practice also gives you a new window into yourself, a fresh way of seeing your feelings, your motives, and what’s really important to you.  It also provides you with an enhanced  sense of control about your future course, strengthening your optimism, and adds meaning to your life experiences as you gain insight about what you can be doing in the present to move you toward your ideals.

Those are some pretty powerful benefits to gain for the mere investment of your time.  If you play with this practice diligently, at the end of the four weeks you will have gained far more than you would from a self-development program costing you hundreds of  dollars or more.  And the insights you’ll gain will be all the more powerful because you generated them yourself.

*               *               *

Thanks to Sonja Lyubomsirsky and her book  The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want for her description of this practice and its proven results.   A veritable treasure trove of positivity practices, Sonja’s book is a great resource for anyone who’s interested in  creating a more exhilarating, meaningful life.


Getting in the Gratitude Groove

Even though most of us think of ourselves as grateful people, few of us actually take time to consciously connect with our gratitude in a way that allows us to genuinely feel its radiant beauty and upsurging joy to the extent that we could. Discover how to tune in more consciously to this life-affirming emotion.

Gratitude is one of the six most common forms of positivity.  When it’s sincere – coming not from rote politeness, but from the heart – it opens and warms us and kindles joy and a desire to reciprocate the kindnesses received.  In fact, in her book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, describes a dozen scientifically proven strategies to make yourself happier.  The first?  Expressing gratitude.

But, as is the case with many forms of positivity, the good stuff doesn’t stop at a warm feeling in your chest, as luscious as that is.  Here’s what researchers Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough have discovered in their study of gratitude and thankfulness at the University of California, Davis–

People who regularly used gratitude practices like the ones we’ll discuss below:

  • Exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week;
  • Were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based);
  • Had increased levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy;
  • Were rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks;
  • Had a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more vitality and optimism, and slept better and longer;
  • Were more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others; and
  • Placed less importance on material goods; they were less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they were less envious of wealthy persons; and were more likely to share their possessions with others.

Clearly, counting your blessings packs big mojo as a life-enhancing posture!

The Practice of a Gratitude Ritual

Even though most of us think of ourselves as grateful people, few of us actually take time to consciously connect with our gratitude in a way that allows us to genuinely feel its radiant beauty and upsurging joy to the extent that we could.  Creating a gratitude ritual is a buy levitra generic potent way to add more of this enriching emotion to your life.

Personal and Community Gratitude Journaling

One simple way to cultivate more conscious gratitude in your life is to keep a gratitude journal.  This could be anything from a gorgeous leather-bound journal that you keep especially for recording those things for which you’re grateful, to adding notes about gratitude to an existing journal, to creating a gratitude scrapbook.

You may also enjoy using, a social network where you can elect to follow the entries of others whom you select as well as leave entries of your own.  Not only can a shared journal can trigger awareness for you of new or overlooked things that you could feel grateful about, but sharing happiness is a great strategy for increasing it.

How Often?

How often should you contribute to your gratitude journal?  One significant study suggests that making entries once a week is more beneficial than daily entries because you’re less likely to tire of the exercise or to make it into a chore.  A weekly entry may be a nice way to conclude a week, or to begin a new one.  And, of course, if you find yourself brimming with gratitude, make an entry whenever you want.  That’s my favorite strategy:  whenever I want.  Experiment and pick your own.

Alternate Practices:  Ending with Gratitude

If you have little time or inclination for journaling, you may want to adopt the gratitude practice that Barabara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D., author of Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive invented for herself.

She uses endings that occur throughout her day as a trigger for remembering to tune in to her gratitude.  When a conversation ends, or a class, or when she leaves a room or a building, or completes a project or a task, she closes it by taking a few seconds to appreciate what she has just experienced and to feel gratitude for it.

Imagine what this practice could do for your marriage or your relationship with your kids or parents or a business partner buy valacyclovir ireland or colleague?  Imagine taking a moment to feel gratitude every time you ended an exchange with one of them!  Powerful stuff!  (And pencil-free, to boot!)

A variation on Fredrickson’s theme is to use doorways as a trigger.  Each time you close a door behind you, remember to be grateful for the experience you are leaving:  A safe ride in your car, a friendly clerk at the store, the comfort of your home, that your refrigeration has food in it, the satisfaction of your job, the way the meeting went, the fact that you enjoy indoor plumbing!

Reviving Grace

Fredrickson also suggests reviving the time-honored ritual of saying grace before meals, either silently or aloud.  “Take a moment,” she says, “to offer your sincere thanks for the food that’s before you.  You choose whom to thank, whether it be God, the earth, farmers, food handlers, chefs, or all of the above.  Feeding yourself will not feel so ordinary if you do.”

Pausing in gratitude before you eat, by the way,  is also conducive to eating more mindfully, a practice that increases your enjoyment of your food and allows you to take more care with the quality and quantities of foods your consume.

Doing the Gratitude Dance

Last, but hardly least, you can learn—and pass along—the uproarious gratitude dance.

In gratefulness for your readership and so I can leave you feeling grateful that you read all the way through this article, here’s the video of the gratitude dance . . .

Stay tuned!  More tips on how to ramp up your Positivity Ratio are coming soon!


Mindfulness by the Minute

Let’s face it. The challenge of establishing a regular mindfulness routine takes effort, and not everybody is up for it just now. That’s where Mindfulness-by-the-Minute comes in. It’s the baby-step, kaizen, successive approximation, little-by-little method. . .

Mindfulness is, in essence, a matter of waking up and noticing, without judgment, what’s going on.  It’s paying attention to the incredible richness of the here and now.

The ideal, of course, is to be mindful every waking moment.  But for most of us, that goal is a long way off.  In the meantime, we can practice, setting aside a regular time for watching our breathing, or for paying close attention to our actions as we go about our daily routines.

But let’s face it.  The challenge of establishing a regular mindfulness routine takes effort, and not everybody is up for it just now.

Toddling Toward Mindfulness

That’s where Mindfulness-by-the-Minute comes in.  It’s the baby-step, kaizen, successive approximation, little-by-little method.  Call it whatever you like.   It’s the practice of sneaking little bits of mindfulness into your day whenever you happen to remember:

  • Whenever you think of it, pause and take time to watch your breath for a few cycles.
  • Take time just to look around your immediate environment for a minute or two with the goal of really seeing it.  Pretend you never saw it before.  Let yourself notice the way the light falls, the shades of color, the textures, the reflections and shadows, the contours and corners.
  • For a few minutes, just listen.  Listen to the sound of your breath, to the sounds in your immediate environment—the humming of your computer, the purr of the refrigerator or of your car’s engine, to footfalls in the hall, the sounds coming through the window.  See how many you can detect and how, together, they create their own kind of song.
  • Go for a brief walk (even a walk down the hall and back), noticing how your feet connect with the surface below you, how the muscles and joints in your feet, ankles and legs feel, what’s happening in the rest of your body.
  • Do a full body scan, noticing your posture, what part of you is tense or relaxed.  Feel your scalp, your eyelids blinking, the surfaces that your body is contacting: clothing, chair, floor.

Teasing Yourself to Play

String Around FingerJust as setting up a regular time for a mindfulness practice takes effort, remembering to take minutes for mindfulness doesn’t come naturally at first.

You can increase the number of times you remember to practice by setting up triggers for yourself in your environment.

  • Jot reminders on post it notes that you scatter around;
  • Add the word “remember” to your do list; set it up to scroll as a screen saver across your monitor;
  • Slip a loose rubber band on your wrist and when you notice it, let it remind you to take a minute for mindfulness.  Then put the band on the opposite wrist;
  • Associate mindfulness breaks with a number, say 9, and when you run across the number in the course of your day, take a few minutes for mindfulness;
  • Link mindfulness to an act you perform several times in the course of your day, such as washing your hands, standing in a line; looking at your watch, or opening a door;

Trance Busters

One of the reasons that we sink so easily into non-mindful trance states is because, for efficiency’s sake, we do so many things on auto-pilot.  And while our habits and routines do serve us in some ways, they also become like little prisons of the mind, locking us into patterns of sleep-walking behaviors.

Intentionally altering an unconscious routine puts you on instant alert.  All of a sudden, you have to pay attention.   Just for the fun of it, let some of these routine-breakers serve as awareness triggers for you:

  • In the shower, start washing on the side opposite the one you usually choose;
  • Same with dressing: put the other arm in the sleeve, the other leg in the pants first, start with the opposite sock;
  • Park in a different section of frequently used parking lots than you normally do (and make sure to pay attention to where so you can find your car when you want to return to it!);
  • When you grocery shop, start at the far aisle of the store;
  • Sit on a different side of the table when you eat;
  • Take a different route home from work;
  • Try walking backward to and from your kitchen;
  • Walk with slightly larger or smaller steps.

This is a very freeing exercise.  Once you begin to play with it, you quickly begin to discover how many unconscious habits fill your day.  And the simple act of noticing them is, in itself, another way of generating more awareness.

Savor the Mindful Minutes

Creating more positivity in our lives is a skill that grows from a foundation of noticing.  The more mindful minutes you build into your day, the more aware you become.  It’s all a matter get zoloft prescription online of paying attention.

But in addition to building your self-awareness, mindfulness carries its own rewards.  It opens you to the freshness of every passing moment, to the rich array of data every moment holds.  It connects you to yourself and to the world around you.  It anchors you in the center of yourself and in the center of the ever-changing present.

As your day comes to a close, take time to review the moments of mindfulness you experienced throughout the day and savor them.   If you journal, jot them down.  If you don’t already journal, jotting down your mindful moments is a great way to start.

In any case, treat yourself to some brief reflection over your mindful experiences.  The more you reinforce them, the more of them you’ll find tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the longer they will linger each time.