Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Flexibility’

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 ..it 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!

Small Changes Can Create Greater Happiness!

Small changes can have a huge impact on our happiness level. Over my next few blogs I will discuss some of the ways we can achieve greater peace from the confusions and complexity in our lives.

To begin let’s look at the problems (or labeled opportunities if you are an optimist) that you encountered over the past week. Most people can list at least three things that just seemed to upset them in some way.

Think about how you reacted in certain ways then ask yourself why. As babies and small children we really were like sponges that absorbed our parents beliefs, opinions and assumptions about life. Since we looked up to them and relied on them literally for our existence it was natural to adopt their mindset or views of life.

When we reached adolescence or early adulthood our own experiences helped to expand our assumptions and opinions which at times may have conflicted with our parents’ perspectives. It’s a natural phenomena because we see the world through different lenses.

Part of our different view is due to the era in which we born. For our parents life was more predictable, patterns more sustainable and the pace was slower. As an example the generations from the sixties and seventies either used a simple typewriter or penned letters of communication. However, from the mid to late 80’s the dominant communication tool was the computer. A major improvement in speed, efficiency and connectivity ensued yet many of our parents remember a time with nostalgia when receiving a letter or card from someone had an entirely different feeling and connotation. Today ‘snail mail’ is looked upon as archaic.

The basic values of truth, fairness, care, loyalty, respect, equality and freedom continue to be important to us but over time and experiences our interpretations or definitions of them may change and expand. We are products not only of our biological make up and our own life experiences but also the generation or era in which we were born.

One of the hardest things for the older generation to deal with is change. Of course, the era in which they lived did change over time but at a much, much slower pace. The speed of change today seems impossible to comprehend and so for many raised in the early generations it just seems easier to ignore or refuse to engage in change as much as possible. Although they remember an easier, slower paced life they cannot recreate it and may become frustrated, angry and resistant to the world in which they are living.

The significance of the differences in perceptions between generations cannot be overstated. If we stubbornly hold on to the opinions and assumptions our parents had, given our changing world, we are in for a rough ride. Today more is demanded of us. More information, analysis and flexibility is required simply to exist. Life is no longer simple. Our challenge is to learn to become more comfortable and not remain stuck in the world of our parents which has ceased to exist.

There are small but important changes we can make to help us become more flexible and fluid in our thinking. Let’s call them survival skills for the world of 2014 and beyond. Over the next few weeks we will look at some ways that through small changes we can become much happier and content with ourselves and the world in which we live.

I leave you with one question to ponder over the next few days. Assuming our parents had the greatest influence on us, when we look back at them as individuals were they happy? Did we hear optimistic, encouraging views from them about our potential? Did they help us feel as if we could accomplish anything we set our minds to? Did they encourage us to stretch our wings and fly? If you answered yes to most of these statements – you are fortunate and able to take on the speed of change in our world today with confidence.

If you answered no to the questions above my question to you is rather simple but pointed. Why would you perpetuate the views, assumptions, beliefs even behavior that you learned from them if they were truly not happy, confident human beings? Why would you think their life views would enable you to grow into the happy and successful individual you can be? If there is a disconnect for you – stay tuned there will be much more on the topic!

Have a great few days!

Seeing is Believing?

The idiom, ‘Seeing is believing,’ was first recorded in 1639 and interpreted to mean that concrete or physical evidence is convincing. Although we have heard this phrase hundreds of times it actually assumes that the new evidence presented will be accepted in our minds as truth and will broaden our understanding. Seeing and believing requires us to demonstrate an openness- a willingness – to set aside our previous assumptions- and let go of our need to control long enough to take in the new ‘evidence.’

That is a tall order for many – especially those ‘special’ people who just seem to feel that they have all the answers. When new information comes along if it doesn’t match their world view or their plan, oftentimes, they simply dismiss it regardless of any evidence to the contrary. They may continue to replay their old truths in their minds digging a deeper rut in their behavior and attitude. Problem is, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the hole!

When we are in the rut, dismissing new evidence and demanding control, the Universe just seems to step in and throw us a curve ball from time to time. We are left thinking to ourselves, but…. that’s not the way I planned, expected or wanted it to be. We have all been there and it isn’t easy, in fact, it’s down right hard work to adjust our attitude, eat a bit of humble pie, and move forward.

For those who, given new evidence, choose to accept and internalize it, they discover that flexibility, change and letting go of their stranglehold of control was an essential part of the process. They have chosen to deepen their understanding about themselves and life in general. The good news is these folks regroup, reboot and move forward in their journey. They are the learners, the positive beings that refuse to be daunted by the curve balls. They are the type of people to which we are naturally drawn. We feel energized, enthusiastic and hopeful about the future when we are with them.

A line in the Serenity Prayer is especially meaningful in this context, “…. grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Think about how you react to new information that just doesn’t fit into your existing comfort zone. Do you push it away with disbelief or draw the new information in and sift through the evidence searching for the golden nugget – the lesson – that has been presented.

Have a great few days!

Defining Normal

How many times have we thought when observing a person or situation, ‘that is not normal.’ Or better yet, how many times have we thought another person is not doing things right or correctly …according to what we judge to be so. The operative word here, of course, is JUDGE. If we are honest with ourselves, most or all of us would say, yes I do that frequently when what I see or hear doesn’t match MY definition of regular or normal. My question to you then is what do you define as normal? Do you think your definition is the only right one possible? Is there any flexibility in your interpretation of the word?

By definition, normal is stated to be ‘conforming to a standard, usual, regular or natural – a common behavior in society.’ However – and this is the biggie here – the definition of normality varies by person, time, place, situation and changes with societal standards and norms. In other words, ‘normal’ is intended to be a FLEXIBLE concept by definition. Yet we seem to define the word using a rigid standard according to what we are comfortable with at the moment. That sort of makes us judge and jury for everyone and everything in life doesn’t it? We place others unwittingly in an untenable situation because they are not meeting our own arbitrary standard of normal. Trust me on this one, they can feel your judgment and negative energy and will react accordingly. That is a rather dangerous or hurtful place to be don’t you think?

I believe defining normal is rather like defining beauty. It is in the eyes of the beholder as long as no one is hurt in the process. Each of us has a right to decide what works best for us without fear of reprisal or condemnation. It is sort of one of those inalienable rights given to us by a power much greater than ourselves.

If we allow ourselves to see the behaviors of others as ‘not normal’ that implies that something in their behavior needs to be corrected. But if we haven’t walked in their shoes and understand what they are coping with, how can we possibly believe that we are so smart, powerful or wise to determine what is normal or right for them? Could it be that what we are observing is simply a temporary or ‘normal’ state in reaction to that person’s circumstances at the moment. Could it be that they need understanding and acceptance and are just waiting to see if we are willing to get out of our own comfort zone and give it to them?

I believe that we would all be happier in our individual life journeys if we consciously worked at accepting others as we want to be accepted – without value judgments or conditions. The bottom line is that we are all seeking the same thing – unconditional love and understanding as we proceed on our paths. What we give we receive in return – no more no less.

Have a great few days!

The Art of Resiliency

Resiliency is created when we think past the primary thing we want to have, do or be and add possible options to our thinking. It is all about having a strategy – liken to playing chess – thinking ahead for possible moves in case the most obvious or desired one simply doesn’t work out. Simply put, the more options we create as possibilities in our life (plans A, B, or C) the more confident we become because we are prepared for the never ending list of changes that are inevitably thrown at us.

The author, Bill Bryson, has written many books about travel. His writing is engaging and his trips exciting – even hair raising at times. Recently, I have read two of his books, ‘Sunburned Country’ which is about the amazing continent of Australia and the other entitled, ‘A Walk in the Woods’ a story about the 2100 mile hiking trail from Georgia to Maine – the Appalachian Trail. Resiliency seems to be his first and foremost trait. Reading Bryson’s work we can live vicariously through the mental, emotional and physical challenges that continually confront him on his journey. We realize that what we know on an intuitive basis – that gut feeling of ‘this is the way to go for now’ gives us a flexibility when viewing life’s hurdles and offers us a greater sense of peace. If we are forced to take the longer road to accomplish something, we may not, at first, be happy but we know we can survive – maybe even thrive in the process. It is true, life is about the journey along the way.

I have never met anyone who hasn’t had curve balls thrown at them in their lives. In fact, some of these balls may cause serious injuries to our minds, bodies and hearts. Yet some people just seem more adept as the lyric in the song says of ‘ picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and starting over again.’ What makes these individuals different? Are they bigger, stronger or smarter than others? Probably not. But they do have a secret ingredient involved in their thinking – a survival mentality – that is the crucial difference. They have learned simply through living that rarely do things work out exactly as planned. From their life experiences they have learned the art of resiliency. They do not demand that things be different or fall apart when the ball goes far afield. They run, jump and reach higher to attain their goal. They may slip and fall along the way but they continue on – for the love of the game and themselves. They remind me of the famous saying by Winston Churchill. ‘Never, Never, Never, Never give up!’

Developing the art of resiliency is something worth considering.

Have a great few days!