If you could choose a favorite song – one that speaks to you and transports you elsewhere what would it be? What are the lyrics that resonate in your heart? What melody causes you to stop and listen to the sound causing your toes to tap or your mind to escape for a moment? When you think about it music has the power to change our mood instantly. It has the ability to lighten our mood and put a smile on our face. It has been said that music is a language that is there when normal language is of little use. It’s no wonder that every culture known to man has created their own music.
I remember years ago going to a funeral of a wonderful, gentle spirit who was moving on. She requested that her favorite song be played. The lyrics were written by Lee Ann Womack, the song entitled, ‘I Hope You Dance.’ This song can still stop me in my tracks and momentarily take my breath away as I remember this special person. A few of the lyrics …”Never lose your sense of wonder…never take one single breath for granted…never settle for the path of least resistance…and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance.” This person fought a valiant 10 year struggle with cancer and was totally bed ridden for a least a year before she passed on. Yet through the lyrics of this song she left us with powerful thoughts of hope, humility, bravery and even joy. The song is about the magnificence of life, the importance of love and choosing to face any fear in our life head on, not allowing ourselves to be cowered by it.
I marvel at both the song writers and musicians who through their talent can emotionally transport us to a different space and time. These individuals have a gift that they have honed through hard work and effort. As Malcolm Gladwell has told us to be an expert at something we must put in about 10,000 hours of effort. When a song can take our breath away we know the lyricist and performer has paid their price in personal time and effort. Maybe their purpose for this lifetime was to try and help us along our way.
No one has the power to take away the music in our soul. As Dr. Wayne Dyer reminds us, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” Each of our lives is like a song, partially written and played, still in the creation stage of possibilities. We are all part of the orchestra of life. We can work together in harmony and feel the happiness in our hearts or like the songwriter or performer continue to rehearse, change, adapt our views through trials and life challenges until we finally get it. When things begin to fall into place in our life – our song – just begins to finally feel right. We feel something deep inside …excitement, assurance and at peace that we are following our chosen path and it moves us to our core. At that point we know we are truly living our life purpose and it is grand.
Have a great few days!
In 2008 Jim Carrey made a movie entitled, ‘Yes Man’ from a book written by the British humorist Danny Wallace. The movie was a box office success because it gave us something to really think about with its potent message. Carrey as a bank loan office becomes increasing withdrawn and negative following his divorce. His friends tried suggesting a host of things to help get him out of his doldrums but to no avail. ‘NO’ was his constant reply to anything and everything that was out of his increasingly narrow comfort zone. His life changed dramatically when he attend a self help seminar in which the attendees were instructed to make a commitment for one year to say ‘YES’ to people, places and opportunities. He started on a pathway to personal happiness that just made you smile inside. When a movie can do that for people we know the message is significant!
Dr. Wayne Dyer highlights this mindset of saying YES to life in his book, ’10 Secrets for Happiness and Inner Peace.’ He instructs us to have an open mind to everything and to refuse to allow ourselves to have low expectations about our own capabilities. He implores us to resist ANY pessimistic tendency (also known as being the resident critic). If we find ourself saying ‘but’ ..to someone’s idea just know that we are actually correcting and rejecting their thought rather than considering or allowing it as their authentic feeling.
When we choose (and it is a conscious choice) to say YES rather than dismiss a new idea or opportunity we are choosing to expand our comfort zone. A new idea may not be comfortable but it’s important to keep an open mind and consider it rather than automatically rejecting it. As Dr. Dyer suggests, rather than saying a new idea or perspective is wrong practice saying, ‘I’ve never considered that before.’
A mindset of ‘YES’ is healthy. It keeps us growing, learning, and becoming all that we have chosen to be in this lifetime. It says regardless of what I know today or what I have been conditioned to believe in the past today is a new day with new ideas and opportunities.
Our mindset not only affects us but everyone in our environment. We can uplift others or weight them down simply by our responses to life. Check yourself over the next few days – listen to your responses – really listen with your mind and heart – are your comments energy enhancing or energy depleting. It takes work to change a habit if it has been to control, reject, or dismiss anything that is new, different or may require a change in our thinking but it is so worth it!
We have chosen this life with the challenges and opportunities that present themselves for a reason. Being happy, open and positive just makes the ‘medicine go down a bit easier!’
Have a great few days!
Every once in awhile we read a word or sentence that takes our breath away. That’s exactly what happened when Vice President Joe Biden commented at the funeral of his 46 year old son Joseph ‘Beau’ Biden that “a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did.” Humility and recognition of something greater than self were so eloquently spoken by a grieving father and leader in our country. These words in context cause us to exhale slowly as we think about the powerful image that comes to mind.
The Biden family experience with loss started early. The tragic death of Beau’s mother and one year old sister in a car accident that seriously injured both Beau and his brother ‘Hunter’ was the beginning. He served two terms (2006-2015) as Delaware’s Attorney General. Beau’s life ended after a two year battle with brain cancer. Yet, through it all his father said he witnessed “the same integrity, courage and strength that he demonstrated every day of his life.”
We know that through all of the life challenges and losses we experience and all the ‘whys’ left unanswered we are ultimately left with a simple truth, ‘life is as it’s supposed to be.’ It doesn’t ease the pain or soothe the open wound of loss yet we know deep down that this simple truth somehow rings true. Some complete their journey sooner than we would have chosen.
Vice President Biden helped us all to remember our jobs, our calling and purpose in life. As parents we know our greatest success is felt in our hearts when we see the type of children we have been fortunate enough to raise. Our other achievements pale by comparison to the feelings we experience when we see them succeed.
Our legacy, what we have ultimately done to make this world a better place, comes in many forms. For Beau Biden it was dedicating his life to the service of others. For others it may be discovering a cutting edge idea, teaching a child or lending a hand to a fellow traveller. Caring is the key as Biden exemplified.
When we demonstrate love and caring to our children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews we give them immeasurable strength to face the challenges that will naturally surface in their own lives. It’s as if we give them an invisible shot of confidence. Everyone needs to feel valued and to know that their life is important to someone other than themselves. When we believe in someone we give them the emotional support that is needed as they try out their life wings. We stand by eager to encourage them to fly higher than we have ever experienced. We listen to them with our head AND heart as they talk about their hopes and dreams. We are in a privileged position, at just the right angle, to see into their souls as we cheer them on. The Universe then smiles and says back to us, ‘Well done.’
Have a great few days!
Our first impressions are powerful. Research by Willis and Todorov of Princeton found that we make a decision about a person’s competence, likability, and trustworthiness within the first tenth of a second that we meet them and those impressions hold true for us months later. Take a moment and think about how long one tenth of a second really is …. a snap judgment. Yet we are constantly advised not to make decisions too quickly … but rather to think about it, sleep on it, so that we don’t make a rash decision we will regret later. While all this advice sounds good the reality is that we rarely follow it. We form our instant opinions and then convince ourselves that we are right regardless of evidence to the contrary. The impressions which cause us to make snap decisions come from deep inside our subconscious where intuition, biases, genetic messaging, character traits and social norms have been slowly, over years incubating to become such a part of us that we don’t even realize they are constantly front and center in everything we see, feel and believe. The unconscious basically decides what we are either drawn to or repelled by on a momentary basis.
While we would like to think that we are in total control – on a conscious level – of everything we think, feel and do nothing could be farther from the truth. Our subconscious mind is constantly giving us a barrage of messages and feelings. This amazing part of our brain is the ‘true brain behind the brain.’
As David Brooks said in his New York Times bestseller, ‘The Social Animal,’ the subconscious is the source of character, love and achievement. It collects the wisdom of the ages. In fact, as we learn more, experience more of the world and develop deeper character traits this amazing part of our anatomy is so powerful it constantly orders and reorders the new information to help us become wiser and more adept at living. Brooks went on to say that his book “would not try to discern God’s role in all this but if there is a divine creativity, surely it is active in this inner soul sphere, where brain matter produces emotion, where love rewires the neurons.”
Amazing to think about right – especially when we have been taught that the subconscious simply contains the the baser elements of survival – particularly the fight or flight instincts.
Realizing that our unconscious mind affects so much of our behavior it behooves us to learn from research how to decipher the patterns, tendencies and predictable behaviors so that we harness the strength of decision making. Some of these facts I will be writing about will shock, some will surprise but all will cause you to shake your head in wonder. Think of the next few blogs coming to you as ‘The Farmer’s Almanac of Human Behavior.’
Have a great few days!
Have you ever noticed the different ways we greet each other? In Japan bowing is a traditional sign of greeting that shows recognition and respect. In many African countries hand clapping signals a greeting. Saying hello, shaking hands, even fist bumping and hugging are different ways we greet people in English cultures. Sometimes it feels rather perfunctory and at other times it feels – well actually genuine – and it stops our brain momentarily from thinking about the next thing on our to do list. We truly see the other human being who despite all odds, trials and challenges are here in front of us at this moment in time.
A similar thing can be said for sales associates and check out clerks. You can just tell that someone above them on the corporate ladder has instructed them to greet each customer usually with a question such as. ‘Did you find everything you were looking for?’ Or ‘How are you doing today?’ As the words come tumbling out of their mouths there is little to no eye contact as they are busy surveying what needs to be checked out on the friendly conveyor belt that is going at warp speed as their manager views the action from a perch high above. Until …wait for it … you stop and look them in the eye, respond and then go to the next step and actually ask them how their day is going. Usually they will stop mid task, a bit surprised that you took even a moment to ask about their day. Such a small thing to do and yet you can just feel the person warm up inside. It is, as if, they are saying to themselves, ‘Well, my day is actually getting better with thoughtful customers like you!’
When we take a moment to look people in the eye and let them know that we see them – truly see them – it means something. We are choosing to use a few precious seconds of our life to stop and appreciate the spiritual presence of another. There is a single word that means all of this which is used in the form of a greeting around the world. The word is ‘Namaste’ (pronounced na-ma-stay). Roughly translated it means the heart and spirit in me sees the heart and spirit in you. Regardless of our background and experiences when a fellow traveler takes the time to recognize us it’s a good thing. Often this one word greeting is done with the hands together and pulled close to the heart.
I know it may sound like a stretch to suggest such a greeting to some – especially the part with the hands held to the heart but regardless of the type of greeting we are comfortable with the important part is taking the time to mean it right? To take even 30 seconds out of our busy day and offer kindness, recognition and respect to another.
Over the next few days check it out. I’ll bet you can stop someone in their tracks who is being paid to service you in the most efficient manner by looking at them and asking how their day is going. Just think you are sending out those good vibrations into the world and it didn’t cost you a cent even though it created value for others.
Maybe the big things in life are made just a bit easier when we remember to take care of the smaller things along the way.
Have a great few days!
The greatest gift we can give to someone is nurturing and unconditional love. It creates a bond that withstands even the most difficult challenges in life. There is now research that demonstrates that early maternal nurturing and love creates a bond in the child that serves them well throughout life and actually results in changes in the brain. According to Dr. Joan Luby from the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri, the hippocampus area of the brain has been found to be up to 10% larger in children who were loved and nurtured early in life. Since the hippocampus stores memories with emotional ties it just makes sense that early memories of love and adoration serves a person well for the rest of their lives. As they mature into adulthood somewhere in the back recesses of their minds they remember the feeling of being totally accepted and loved and know they are worthy of the same feeling in later life. They may be more discerning as they evaluate future possible relationships. They have memories that help them recognize true feelings of love and acceptance. It seems to me then that early bonding helps create a more positive sense of self. A willingness to seek rather than settle until that special moment when that feeling of unconditional love and acceptance once again appears in their life.
In educational research the importance of having at least one person in a child’s life that loves them unconditionally has long been recognized to be the most important factor a child brings with them to school. It often means the difference between success or struggle.
Once again, we see that unconditional love is the greatest thing we can give to another human being.
A new book just published entitled, ‘Unforgettable” and written by Scott Simon from NPR demonstrates this concept beautifully. As he sat by his mother’s beside for a few days as she was dying he began tweeting his thoughts. Over 1.2 million Twitter followers lived through this journey of his beloved mothers’ last days with him. He expanded upon those original tweets to create this book. Rather than being a sad, depressing read it is a celebration of a life between mother and son that is beauty beyond words. It continually resonates with laughter, shared memories and life lessons. You live through the challenges of this mother trying to keep a roof over her son’s head, making sure he had enough to eat by passing on the food herself. Yet always, always making light of the circumstance at hand so as not to burden him with worry. She becomes a real person – someone you would like to know. A person you just know you would have some laughs with as you discuss the latest absurdity of life.
The son, ahh yes, then there is the son – Scott Simon – he stands above the crowd with his unconditional love and devotion for his mother. His book is more than a memoir or tribute to a her. His words help us experience the emotions of a life well lived and remembered. They create a beautifully soft envelop of love that surrounds you as you turn each page and ultimately leave you with a feeling of gratitude for having been privileged enough to walk a mile in his shoes.
Have a great few days!