Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for April, 2015

Dan Price – CEO of Gravity Payments – is AMAZING!

I had the opportunity recently to attend a social gathering in which it was apparent that the guests were financially well off. Yet, something was lacking. Genuine laughter was rare – the atmosphere was left wanting. One only had to observe and listen to most of their stories to understand that generally these folks had not found the magic elixir of happiness. They seemed rather guarded, aloof – not particularly comfortable in their own skin. Why – we might wonder would these folks not be outgoing, radiating happiness given their financial comforts. They seemed to want for nothing except authentic happiness … and money could not buy it for them. Here they were – well healed financially – but their faces and body language told another story.

Often we think, ‘If I only had …. I would be happy,’ or ‘If I could just get ahead of the constant barrage of bills I would be more secure.’ The real question is – would we?
Granted when we are struggling to make ends meet we can get overwhelmed and dream of a life where money is no object. We may even become resentful when we see that others appear to have it a bit easier. Yet the reality of it all is that happiness is NOT correlated with wealth!

The Dalai Lama has said the real purpose of life is to be happy and we achieve that by developing love, compassion and gratitude for self and others. It is not attained by getting more stuff. Think of a young child who continually says, ‘I want …I want …I want…’ We want to make them happy but sooner or later realize that their list of wants is never satisfied and as their demands increase their happiness actually decreases! Not only does this happen in children it happens in adults as well. The lesson for us is that we can’t buy happiness for ourself or others because it is a much bigger issue than simply what money can buy.

Determining what causes happiness has become a major topic of research. Many researchers such as neuroscientist, Keely Muscatell, at UCLA has found that wealth ‘quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy and triggers a chemical reaction that causes individuals to be less likely to care about anyone but themselves or to experience the sentiments needed to be a decent citizen … or even a happy one.’

Considering this research and what the Dalai Lama teaches it seems that money, in and of itself, can be a stumbling block to achieving greater happiness. That is unless you are Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, a Seattle- based credit card payment processing firm. Now here is a success story!

Patricia Cohen in the New York Times wrote about this amazing person. Mr. Price was inspired by an article on the psychology of income and happiness and decided to do something about it. Rather than continuing in the ranks of most CEO’s and amassing millions of dollars in personal income he has chosen to reduce his annual salary to $70,000 and redirect both the salary difference and 80% of Gravity’s annual profits to his employees. Over the next three years ‘even the lowest -paid employee will begin earning $70,000 per year. This is going to make a difference to everyone around me’ said one of the employees.

Love, compassion, gratitude …The Dalai Lama would be proud of you Mr. Price and so are so many, many others. You give us hope. Thank you for being such a remarkable human being!

Have a great few days!

Make It Happen!!

If you had only one pearl of wisdom that you could share with your loved ones what would it be? Would it be about honesty, patience, integrity, hard work? Or maybe it would be words of encouragement for them to think about when the going gets tough. These ideas and a host of others are all very important but for me it would be to somehow, someway help them understand the life changing power of their own thoughts.

Often we are so busy ‘doing’ life that we don’t stop to realize that we are actually creating our own reality from the feelings we are sending out to the Universe. The cardinal rule is that THOUGHTS CREATE FEELINGS WHICH CAUSE BEHAVIOR. This is an understanding learned in goal setting that really works! Yup! That’s the long and short of what I would share with my loved ones.

We all have difficulty, challenges and events happen to us that frustrate and seem unfair. That’s part of living on planet Earth. When we choose to face those situations and handle them rather than perseverate on them we win. In fact, any time spent with thoughts that life is unfair is simply time wasted. Those negative thoughts will begin to seep into your personality and drag you down. Little by little people will start to avoid you because you are just too exhausting to be around.

Researchers have said that we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. If you were being totally honest with yourself what percentage would you say you devote to positive, energy creating thoughts …. and what percentage to negative, self defeating thoughts?
Look at those two percentages again. Is that really how you want to live your life?

Speaking about life, what if you really want something – a new house, different job or lasting relationship, for example, and it just hasn’t happened yet. What do you start telling yourself? Lisa Nichols, a contributing author to The Secret said “most of the time when we don’t see the things we have requested we get frustrated. We get disappointed. And we begin to become doubtful. The doubt brings about a feeling of disappointment. Take that doubt and shift it. Recognize that feeling and replace it with a feeling of unwavering faith. “I know that it’s on its way.”

Listen to those words, I KNOW IT’S ON THE WAY. Those are strong, powerful words that elicit a feeling of empowerment. When you take this statement to the next level and allow yourself a few minutes in you days to FEEL how wonderful it will be when it comes to pass you are manifesting the energy to make it happen. Experiencing the feeling (before it actually happens) is actually the key to unlocking the magic door that causes your dreams to become a reality. Why? Simply thinking about something you desire is not enough. You need to FEEL the emotion behind it. It is like putting gas into your engine – it gives you the power needed to send the Universe positive, consistent statements of belief in attainment. Your job then is to remember this feeling as you sit back and watch your dreams become a reality …because they will…and you can smile and realize YOU can make things happen. Remember it’s all about your feelings! You are now in the driver’s seat and the ride will be fantastic for the rest of your life.

This is what I would teach my family because I know it is the most powerful and important lesson they will ever learn.

Have a great few days!

How Do You View Disruptions?

How often do we view with grace an unexpected need or interruption that invades our scheduled lives? Do we immediately think to ourselves, ‘I don’t have time for this!’ Then go on to perseverate about how many things will need to be rescheduled, or put aside temporarily in order to handle it. The world in which we live seems to be moving faster and demanding more time and attention everyday. Yet, unexpected issues surface frequently and we have a choice in the way we respond.

The most common reaction is to view the unexpected with frustration. We see it as an imposition and internally rally our emotions around the unfairness of it all. We resist because it feels like we are being told what to do wasn’t our idea or need and why do we need to change our schedule? We continue to complain until we work ourselves up to a fever pitch and yet the unexpected is still waiting (sometimes growing bigger if only in our minds) to be addressed. Finally we calm down and, rather begrudgingly, figure out a way to get it done. When we view the issue from a perspective of restrictive motivation (I HAVE TO) we bring in so much negative energy. We allow ourselves to go to a place of judgment and irritation. We can almost feel our blood pressure rise as we think about it. After we have handled the issue we often continue our mental dialog regarding ‘the intrusion.’ That’s a whole lot of time (which we don’t have) and emotional energy (which takes a mental and physical toll on us) that we have expended needlessly.

There is a better way. We can decide to respond with constructive motivation (I choose to) when confronted with an unexpected issue. By taking a deep breath and allowing ourselves a quick moment to accept, without judgment, that things naturally crop up and we need to adjust our schedule to accommodate them, we can move on quickly to figure out the specifics. When we willingly CHOOSE to accept the need to address the issue and get it done we remove the suspended animation of the tension. That’s it …just get it done and move on and chalk it off our ‘To Do’ list. When we utilize this approach we are choosing to see the issue through a kaleidoscope of possible solutions and as we turn it a few degrees we get a sharper view of the most productive way to proceed. We focus our time on the best approach for addressing the need rather than wasting our time emotionally resenting it. When we decide to just get it done without perseverating and complaining we are using a positive more proactive approach. We become are more confident and in control in the long run.

In goal setting this idea of restrictive versus constructive motivation is a biggie. It doesn’t matter the task – writing a proposal, presenting at a conference, cleaning the house or taking the time to listen with our hearts when someone needs us – the choice of how to view the unplanned need is ours and the way we decide to address it speaks volumes about our personal level of development.

Since we are all here to learn life lessons, could it be that the Universe is presenting these unexpected interruptions or additional needs as a way to help us develop more patience, and personal regard for others? If so, the quicker we decide to CHOOSE to respond with grace the less intrusions will be presented in our lives.

The next time you are confronted with an issue that causes a disruption to your scheduled day take a moment and remember the choice before you … restrictive or constructive motivation. The choice and result is always up to you.

Have a great few days!

Words Make a Difference!

In goal setting we learn that thoughts trigger emotion which then triggers behavior. So if you want to change your behavior you need to start with the thought (words) you attach to it. That sounds clear enough until we begin to examine the complexity behind the words we choose to use. They originate from our background and experiences and can either help or hinder our progress forward. How often do we really listen to the choice of words we use or stop to observe their impact. Does it sound like that would take too much time that you don’t have? If so, you might want to think again. When organizations were surveyed regarding prospective employees the item of greatest importance to them was communication skills. Further, in countless surveys on the topic of happiness people responded that the most important thing in a relationship was, once again, the ability to communicate. So whether we are talking about work, family or friends the most important thing we can bring to the setting is solid communication skills.

Sometimes we are so busy speaking that we forget to pause and ‘check for understanding’ to be sure the words we chose are fully understood by others. Sound silly? Actually it’s not. If you ask 5 people to tell you what any word mean such as comfortable, happiness or improvement you would get 5 different definitions. Why? Remember … the understanding we bring to the words we use are defined by our background and emotional experiences and are as unique to us as our fingerprints. It is up to the speaker to verify they are understood. Few listeners have the confidence to say they do not understand so they just continue looking as if they are listening while they are repeating over and over in their mind what was said that they did not understand. That makes refining our communication skills even more important as we strive for a life of greater happiness and success.

Choosing the right words invites others in or creates barriers to understanding. Think of the words that are a natural part of your vocabulary. Are they energy affirming or energy depleting. Check the faces of those you are talking to … are they engaged in what you are saying? Do they ask clarifying questions to be sure they get your meaning or intention behind the words? If not maybe it’s time to reevaluate the word choices you are using.

There is a computer term, GIGO. It simply means garbage in – garbage out. When we think about a computer being neutral it makes sense. It responds to what is fed into it. Likewise, the Universe can be looked upon as neutral for this purpose. Words are a form of energy (negative or positive) and when sent out into the Universe the same type of energy is sent back to us. Without realizing it we can be drawing negative energy to us simply from the word choices we habitual use.

To Improve our communication skills we must start by recognizing the difference between word choices. Let’s look at a few examples: PROBLEM or OPPORTUNITY – HAVE TO or CHOOSE TO – DEMAND or REQUEST – UNACCEPTABLE or NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. In each pairing did you notice or feel an energy difference between the two words? The first was demeaning or defeating – basically negative energy in action and the second word word choice offers hope, expectation and belief and resonates positive energy. Are your word choices helping or restricting you?

Developing the habit of the mindful use of words can transform your communication skills from ordinary to extraordinary. In business and family life you will see a change in the way people listen …really listen to you. They will want to follow you, support your efforts and make you proud of what they can contribute because you were able to get their attention through the use of your positive word choices.

As Buddha said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”

Life is a challenge for all of us. When we find something that makes the journey a bit easier it is important to pass the idea on to others. Try giving your word choices greater attention in the future. Your thoughts, words and actions will benefit. It will make you and others feel a whole lot better!

Have a great few days!

Taking Time to Reflect

We often judge our lives by how busy and productive we are on a daily basis. There are jobs to be done, people to serve, reports to write or experiments to be run. We move faster and faster trying to leverage every last second of the day into a result. Then, one day we stop and reflect on what it all means. We have accomplished a great deal and yet may still feel a nagging sense of emptiness or exhaustion. Why?

Could it be that in our manic need to achieve we have forgotten ourselves in the process? Have we been running so fast that we forgotten to stop and and smell the roses along the way? It happens as part of living in our twenty first century world. A world of overload – information, expectation and speed.

Have we internalized the message that we are simply what we do, what we accomplish, or what we own? If so let’s mentally fast forward a few years. When all the doing and owning is achieved what is left? Do we think that simply our hard work and accomplishments will result in ultimate happiness? It takes way more than that to achieve lasting happiness.

Maybe there’s more to the story. Of course, we need to be productive in our lives and pay the bills, put bread on the table so to speak. Accomplishment gets our blood pumping but the challenge – the critical issue seems to be one of learning the importance of balance in our lives. Rarely do our parents – our earliest teachers point out the importance of it. Balance is a concept that is rarely learned early in life. But now is a new day – a chance to develop a healthier sense of self by practicing something that will serve us well for the rest of our lives.

It’s not easy to train ourselves to slow down and breathe deeply to absorb certain moments in our life. At first the practice may even be judged as either unproductive or at least an interruption in our ‘Achievement Schedule.’ Don’t be fooled – you need and even deserve it. The moments, for instance, when we take the time to visit with friends, engage in an activity, observe nature, or simply read a book for pure enjoyment are precisely what gives us greater texture and depth in our lives. We become deeper, more at peace and more gentle with ourselves and others. Life becomes more than simply getting from here to there as we learn to appreciate the moments, the stops or even detours along the way. We start to realize that we are more than simply the sum of our parts when we take time to step off the never ending treadmill of doing and move, even momentarily, into a place of pure being through reflection.

I’m not talking about taking an inordinate amount of time out of your daily schedule. Over the next few days try taking 10 or 15 minutes just for you. Inhale deeply and observe something about yourself or others more fully. Listen to your thoughts – really listen. What do you see or feel differently about after this short respite? What ‘Aha’ did you discover in the process? You have worked hard, achieved much, and helped a great deal. Now it’s time to give to yourself. The sooner you start this practice of daily reflection the happier and more balanced your life will become.

Have a great few days!

Celebrate Your Strenghts!

A recent article appeared in the New York Times entitled, ‘Older Really Can Mean Wiser.’ When I read the caption, ‘Research is catching up with the notion that, in some ways, people grow smarter with age’ it naturally caught my attention. I have been looking for the mental elixir of youth for some time!

Two post doctoral students from MIT and Harvard, Joshua Hartshorne and Laura Germine reviewed the scores from tens of thousands of cognitive tests taken by people of all ages and discovered that different mental abilities mature or ripen at different ages. For instance, short term memory – called fluid intelligence peaks in the 20s while social judgment may peak later in life. When you think about it that’s a huge change from what we have heard in the past. Not everything, in other words, is better when we are young.

These researchers concluded that although an ‘older brain moves more slowly than its younger self, it is just as accurate in many areas and MORE adept at reading other’s moods. They also found that older brains may be more knowledgeable in certain areas called crystallized intelligence such as vocabulary. Seems logical – the longer you live the more you are able to process and learn and the file cabinets in our brain holds more. So coming up with a name or specific information may take longer. Just remember it’s there and it will come if you give it time. Just say, ‘It will come to me’ rather than ‘I can’t remember’ since it gives your mind a positive expectation to fulfill.

There is a caveat to these research findings, of course. We need to continue to stretch and use our brains and not fall into the trap of watching 7 1/2 hours of T.V. daily (the average found in a recent survey). In the 1970’s it was referred to as the boob tube for good reason.

The conclusion of the study was that although the older brain moves more slowly than its younger self it is just as accurate in many areas and more adept at reading people’s moods. Navigating tricky interpersonal issues seems to be an area of strength for the older brain. That makes sense to me…when you have lived through decades of challenges between employees or even family members you just get good at it! It’s a practice makes perfect sort of thing.

The research done by Hartshorne and Germine demonstrates that every age offers both strengths to share and opportunities for growth. The wise among us learn to utilize the ideas and perspectives from various age groups. It creates a deeper understanding of the real issues and possible solutions. Those of us who had the chance to use cross functional teams to solve problems in an organization could attest to the fact that differences in people’s backgrounds and experiences created unique and valued ideas for improvement. As you would guess, the same idea works for families. It takes all of us, working together, to make the world a little better place.

Have a great few days!