Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘acceptance’

What is your Word?

In this busy, busy world we often try to do more, faster and better and can get to a point of physical, mental or emotional exhaustion. We know there is more to life and long for something that will bring greater peace and enjoyment. I have often talked about the practice of Mindfulness in which slowing down, even momentarily and taking a few deep breaths and exhaling slowly to regain a sense of greater calm really works. It may sound deceptively simple but it truly works. 
Could it be that since we are inundated with a million and one self help books that we don’t have time to read that we just give up and continue to accept that life will never be any different than it is today? Well, let me make it easier for you.
In addition to the practice of Mindfulness how about adding one simple idea. A word… not a goal, affirmation, lengthy intention but simply just one word that is something you desire more of in your life? Words such as balance, trust, love, acceptance, gratitude, health, excitement, generosity and opportunity (the list goes on and on) are but a few words that can make a big difference to your overall well being. The easy thing about this is that you don’t even have to perseverate on which word you want to choose. Simply put the idea in your brain about selecting a word and let it just roll around in your thoughts for a few days. The absolute perfect word just for you will pop into your conscious thought and you will say….yes, that’s it! That’s what I want more of in my life. Once you decide on a word and you take that momentary deep breath to relax or calm down a bit let your special word come into your awareness. When you are driving, cooking, or working and you mind momentarily wanders think of your word. Keep that special word with you for 6 months even a year and just let it remind you and the Universe of what you most desire.
You may be thinking that it sounds to easy to be true. Well it does…but it isn’t! Until you try it you won’t know how powerful this approach can be. Try it for a week or two and just experience the difference. You will find that among all the noise and distractions of life the word you have chosen will bring you back to your true north.
Greater peace and contentment in life is actually not as hard to obtain as we may think. In our fast-paced world of today we need simplicity not complexity when we are trying to improve our lives and focus and calm our minds. Give yourself the gift of simplicity by breathing deeply and thinking of your special word. This approach is a gift you are giving yourself that will simply and easily keep on giving back to you effortlessly.
Try it – you’ll be so glad you did!
Have a great few days!

A Life of Meaning

‘We are gathered here together to get through this thing called life.’ This line from the musical icon Prince says it all. We have chosen this time to learn our life lessons and celebrate along the way. Prince showed us the power in diversity, acceptance and love. His message of unity is perfectly juxtaposed in a world of discord and division. He stood for social justice and lending a hand to those in need. The timing of his death seems to serve as a signal to all of us…to think, do and love. 
Prince challenged us to feel something bigger, deeper within ourselves. You could feel the Universal light force in him. He did not allow himself to be bound by time, race, gender or profit. He was beyond, above all of that, and pushed us to celebrate the importance and magic of life.
What causes a performer to be able to reach audiences spanning from their 20’s to their 80’s – beyond genres and generations? Simply, the universal values of truth, caring, acceptance and love – the ultimate wins in life. His songs, a true inspiration in themselves, were paired with a quiet philanthropy that only a few of his closest friends were even aware of – ‘just quietly do from your heart’ could have been his tag line. 
His spiritualism was evident from his famous 3 lens sun glasses (the middle lens designed to emphasize his third eye – the eye of enlightenment and higher consciousness) to the famous lyric, ‘I never wanted to cause you no trouble, no pain, only wanted to see you laughing in the Purple Rain.’ When we think of the words in that hit song we can imagine the rain as a cleansing element. When paired with the color purple which represents imagination, strength and integrity it signifies the union of body and soul in spiritual fulfillment. Faith in something bigger than himself gave him the personal power to carry on and on and on to produce 39 albums in 35 years – an unheard of accomplishment. 
Prince literally had his name taken from him (at birth he was named Prince Rogers Nelson by his mother) early in his life as both his music and name were hijacked by the music industry – all in the name of profit. He was also challenged by personal choices of escape. Yet through it all he continued to work to show us that no matter how grim things appear, we must never give up seeking truth to become a better person. 
The mark he made on our world was evident. Last night the entire New Orleans Super Dome was awash in purple light, the streets closing in Brooklyn so people could dance to his music and the emotional tributes offered by so many including the President. Kind just takes your breath away.
It’s not just his music but his message of inclusion, acceptance and celebration of the life force within us that will help us survive, thrive and evolve as we face tomorrow.
I visualize Jimmie Hendrix, Michael Jackson and David Bowie, among others, extending their hands to him as he passed on and with a nod and smile simply saying, ‘Welcome home brother, thank you for a life well-lived.’
Have a meaningful few days.

You’re Doing Your Best!

What if we could live by three tenants: Judge Not, Fear Not, Resist Not. Maybe – just maybe – we could get to the point where any limiting ideas or distorted perspectives of ourselves would simply fade away and allow our minds to refocus on the journey. We would see the joy and blessings of today, this very moment, where anything and everything is possible. By choosing this more positive mindset do you think we might become more tolerant with ourselves and a bit more compassionate with others?

For example, how many times have you played over and over in your head something that you wish you would have said or done differently? Can’t let it go right? That’s because you are playing the blame game and are probably becoming quite good at it! Unfortunately this game has no winners. The sad thing is that it accomplishes nothing and simply causes you to feel even more badly. I’m all for learning from experience but blaming or perseverating on what was – is not learning – it’s more like self flagellation. Color me gone!

Resisting, fearing and judging are all of the same negative ilk. These behaviors keep us locked into our microscopic world where we are judge and jury – but without legal standing. We have no remedy because we have no cause. Time to drop this case and move on!

Having more tolerance and acceptance for yourself begins when you realize that you brought everything you had to the past circumstance and did the very best you could at the moment – because you really did. Self reflection can be a positive thing when you cut yourself a little slack and admit you are human. I’ll bet if you think about a past situation when you feel that you didn’t bring your ‘A’ game to the table, if you really ponder it, you know you didn’t purposely choose to fall short of what you wanted to achieve. You just did. Things happen. Move on. Eliminate the blame and simply change it to a lesson learned by telling yourself, ‘The next time I face this type of situation I intend to …’ and do it. The operative words, of course, are DO IT.

Likewise, when we observe others and think to ourselves ‘why don’t they do this or that’ or ‘they should do it this way.’ Really? Since we can’t walk a mile in their shoes it’s probably better to stop judging and simply remember that they are also doing the very best they can at the moment. They are giving life their best shot – regardless of whether it hits the mark or not – time to give them a break as well.

We are all perfectly imperfect human beings who are trying to navigate life with the knowledge we have at the moment. When we have greater knowledge and experience we may choose to respond differently. But until then … there is no place for judgment, fear or resistance. We are better than that because we know that we are all on the journey of our chosen lifetime and learning day by day along the way.

So today, look in the mirror and smile, pat yourself on the back, and know that you are doing your best – with today’s knowledge – and that’s good enough!

Have a great few days!

Make Your Life Extraordinary!

It is said that to change our life from ordinary to extraordinary we need to practice four things; awareness, acceptance, appreciation and appropriate action. What does this mean exactly and how can we apply it to our life?

Awareness is always the first step in everything we do. We often see, feel and respond instantaneously. Frequently, our response is from fear or misunderstanding and later as the puzzle pieces are put into place we think to ourselves, ‘Oh, now I understand.’ In the meantime we may have put ourselves through all kinds of stress assuming we saw truth when in reality we simply observed an isolated situation. We remind ourselves to calm down and not be so quick to judge … and we try…until the next time when something hits us out of the blue. Timing is everything and when we give ourselves the gift of time by inhaling and exhaling slowly as we strive to process something different or unknown we can slowly retrain ourselves to respond more calmly rather than merely react. The suggestion to ‘count to 10’ is worthy of consideration.

The second step, Acceptance of what is without judging or trying to change something seems, at first to go against everything we know. Yet, when we begin to practice observing and describing rather than constantly evaluating we begin to see a deeper truth. Gone is the tendency to judge others and decide the ‘shoulds’ or ‘if onlys’ of their actions. When we accept the idea that any judgement we place on people is really nonproductive and elicits negative energy we must ask ourselves is it worth it? Since we haven’t walked in their shoes we really have no idea about the why or intent behind their actions. To take it a step further, it’s important to remember that this is their journey. We have our own pathway to follow. We have not been put into this world to live up to their expectations nor they ours.

The next step, Appreciation allows us to look at the choices and decisions we have made in our lives and realize that each one was valuable. There were no mistakes, missteps or blame to be placed but rather simply experiences along the way that we have all chosen to live through to better understand and grow as a person.

Ultimately, Appropriate Action is when our heart, mind and will are all in alignment. Each of us has value and a heart and mind that wants to be understood. We can choose to see the positive – the soul light – in everyone. After all, the Universe doesn’t make mistakes. When we actually choose a daily practice of seeing the positives in life amazing things happen. Think of it this way, when life gives us lemons we not only decide to make lemon aid but willingly share it with others – now that’s powerful!

By internalizing these four concepts life becomes a bit easier. The bumps and bruises along the way hurt less and heal quicker and we have more patience, understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others. Now that’s really powerful!

Have a great few days!

And the Greatest of All is Love!

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!

Even Rats Have Regret!

U.S. researches have discovered what appears to be “regret” in lab experiments with rats. In “Wired.com” a research team located at the University of Minnesota said they were able to substantiate that the observed behavior was actual regret rather than mere disappointment.

Regret, the recognition that different choices could have resulted in different outcomes can be destructive or instructive. If even rats can demonstrate regret what does that say about regret and the human condition? It seems that the feeling of regret is more prevalent than we once thought. Rather than deny any feelings of remorse we may be experiencing maybe the issue is really the length of time spent in regret and what we take away from the experience that is the discriminating difference between productive and nonproductive behavior?

Some people live their life living in the regrets from their past resulting in a continual cycle of thinking ‘if only I would have done this or said that rather than..’ and as a result seem stuck in the past. Their lives continue to replay scenarios of what could have been. Living in the past stops people from experiencing the joys of today and hopes of tomorrow. They live in “the waiting place” that Dr. Seuss refers to in his book. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

On the other hand, other people experience regret but look at it from a perspective of what lesson they have learn from the experience. They live in today and dreams of tomorrow because they feel empowered to make better decisions for their lives because of what they learned from their yesterdays. Doesn’t it seem only natural that we relive moments or events when we were not at our best in an attempt to better control our decision making for the future? As long as we are aware of the amount of time we are spending in that place of review it can be a healthy, instructive thing.

We all have times – especially when we are sick, tired or stressed when mole hills look like mountains. Before responding or making a decisions at this point it is important to realize that we are not functioning at our best and try to avoid saying or doing something that we may regret later.

Let’s assume, however, that we do not heed our own best advice and say or do something that we wish we could undo. Often this happens from feelings of fear or anger. After all, we are simply human and bound to make occasional mistakes along the way. Rather than beat ourselves up over it or attempt to assign blame to others if we simply accept ownership for the error or mistake and offer appropriate apologies as necessary we can turn around something that could have become rather ugly into something meaningful – an “Aha” moment that makes us better, happier people in the long run. Regret in this example can mean that we have lived, learned and are moving on. That’s a good thing!

Our challenge is to learn from the experience and decide to handle the next situation a bit differently. We are all products of the choices we make. Everyday and in every way life has a way of testing us to become our best selves. Life is not for the faint of heart. We have chosen this life experience to become wiser, more thoughtful and productive human beings while we are on this planet. It starts with being brutally honest AND ultimately kind to ourselves and others as we learn our life lessons.

Have a great few days!

Child, Parent or Adult – That is the Question

Years ago there was a book by Eric Berne entitled the ‘Games People Play.’ It was a popular read that was steeped in a deeper analysis of human motivation somewhat based on Freud. Berne explained the deeper concepts using three different approaches that we could relate to in our lives. His premise was that people typically use one of these approaches to avoid real intimacy or at least to get what they want out of life. Being honest with ourselves we all use methods of manipulation in our lives. Like everything else in life it is to the degree that we use them that either helps or impedes our growth. Berne labeled these three different approaches as the Child, Parent, and Adult perspectives. It is worth examining our typical responses as well as those around us to understand how these perspectives apply. We choose one of these perspectives to seek attention, recognition and ‘strokes’ from others. Early in life we discovered that one of them seemed to work better for us and over time it may have become a behavioral mode of interacting with others to help us control our circumstances. With everything in life the more we do something the better we become at it.

To begin, let’s look at the Child orientation. Think of a young child and frequently a smile will come to your face as they entertain us, and make us laugh at their behavior. We watch them as they are naturally spontaneous, curious and display a confidence to try new things. They just want to have fun right? But they can also be difficult if they don’t get their own way, or receive an immediate response to their demands. They can throw tantrums and exhibit a stubbornness and catastrophic view of events that are out of their control. Rather than ‘go with the flow’ they expect to control the flow because they just know people want to make them happy. After all, who doesn’t just love a child?

The next perspective, labeled the Parent approach, can involve problem solving, wise counsel and a feeling of safety and security. However, it can also result in telling, directing, demanding and judging. This can be the person who seems to think they have all the right answers – not just for themselves but for us as well. After all, many of us looked to one or both of our parents to give us an answer or an okay about something we wanted to do in our life. We looked for their approval. What type of message did you receive from your parent(s) about work, relationships, achievement and security. Are you modeling the same behavior you watched as a child?

The last approach, labeled the ADULT is one which uses a rational objectivity, acceptance of truth – without judgment or demands. An example would be that when listening to you explain a challenge or roadblock in your life asks you how you feel about it. They want you to process your feelings and grow from your inner discovery. They are cautious about giving advice because they realize that we are all on our own unique path and that the answer for one person may not be the right answer for another when dealing with human interactions. In spiritualism this approach would be compared to functioning in our higher self. Realizing that events happen for a purpose, a lesson and that we are basically actors on the stage of life living the parts of the script that we have written.

The beauty in examining our own behavior is that it can help us to determine areas or edges that we might choose to smooth out or areas in which we would like to expand our repertoire of responses. The more we examine ourselves the more confident and at peace we can become

Have a great few days!