Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘free will’

Attaining Greater Happiness

Following up on two previous blogs on how to achieve greater happiness in your life, I have a question for you, “Are you living an intention driven life?” Whether we call it goal setting or positive intentions the purpose is the same; placing ourselves in the driver’s seat rather than the passenger’s seat in life. It’s about deciding to make things happen rather than let them happen. Each of us has the innate power to choose to live a life filled with purpose, optimism and attainment. Free will is the ticket that allows you to choose your perspective.

I read a quote recently from a 71 year old who said, “The last 15 years have been the best time of my life so far.” The last two words, ‘so far’ stops you in your tracks don’t they? In our youth filled culture it may, at first, strike you as incongruous to think that an elder would have the audacity to view the ensuing years with such optimism. Yet, others respond by mentally cheering on this mindset as we knowingly smile at the implications. It’s all about perspective isn’t it?

When we live with purpose by deciding what we truly want out of life (as well as what we will no longer accept) and begin to mentally project those positive feelings of attainment forward, the world becomes our oyster. Age no longer becomes an issue merely a fact. The adage, ‘the older the wiser,’ takes on a deeper meaning.

By choosing a life of on-going personal growth – intellectually, emotionally and spiritually- we begin to take charge of our life. We may even find the time and opportunity to help another traveler on their journey as we begin to live in a mindset of abundance.

Your personal challenge is to DECIDE to live a life from the perspective of goals and intentions rather than one of mere habits. It requires us to summon all of our personal strength to truly believe that we deserve to sculpt our own destiny and learn our life lessons with a minimum of challenge and a maximum of deeper personal understanding.

Whether you are 18 or 80 the choice is always yours – to decide to live more fully from a place of optimistic enthusiasm or remain boxed into a world of fear that often manifests itself through self-defeating habits and a mindset of ‘lack.’ Choosing a mindset of abundance rather than lack is your right. Go for it!

Today, I challenge you to analyze your life perspective. Look at your patterns bringing both your mind and heart to the task. Decide what truly gives you energy and what drains you. Take the time to write out the goals and intentions that will increase those positive experiences that energize you and then patiently sit back and wait. Congratulations! You’ve placed yourself in the driver’s seat now and the journey of your new life has just begun!

Have a great few days!

Choose Greater Happiness!

In my Sunday blog I talked about the decades of research done by Dr. Martin Seligman on the topic of happiness. Looking at both happiness and unhappiness he discovered many interesting factors that can serve as a guide to us. For instance, he found that unhappy people have three traits in common in their thinking. When facing a challenge they see it as PERMANENT (My life will never change), PERVASIVE (Everything in my life seems hopeless – it feels like my life is one crisis after another and I never get a break) and PERSONAL (I can’t do anything right – there is something lacking in me). They see themselves as a victim in life. With this mind set they continually draw more negative energy to them like a magnet. The Universe delivers to them what is foremost in their thinking.

Factors that Do Not Increase Happiness
Being wealthy is not the answer to happiness. Beyond a certain level of income (being able to pay your monthly bills, and save a little for a rainy day) additional money does not generate greater happiness. He cites the classic example of large lottery winners. One year after winning, their happiness index is the same as before their win. “How important money is to you, more than the money itself, influences your happiness.” Regardless of how much money you have if you constantly worry about spending any, regardless of the amount you have, it will never be enough and it doesn’t bring you happiness. Even Illness does not affect our happiness level unless we have multiple illnesses over a long period of time. Many people talk about wanting to live where the weather is mild year round. However, climate doesn’t have an effect on happiness either. For those who experience the cold, snowy filled winters they simply learn to adapt and learn to look forward to the beauty of the changing seasons.

Factors That Do Increases Happiness
A belief system that gives us hope for the future is important. With a sense of hope we make the most out of what we have been given and learn and grow in the process. A strong social network helps us stay connected and expands the world beyond ourselves. The most CRUCIAL aspect for achieving greater happiness according to the research is developing our own personal strengths of CHARACTER. Attributes such as love, loyalty, courage, integrity, fairness and spirituality are VERY important. They give us a feeling of confidence and optimism about life. When we face an obstacle and persevere to overcome it, we realize that we are a strong, competent individual. As Dr. Seligman says, “When life is easy is requires zero growth from us. A real life is one where we seek out and (positively) respond to the constant challenges in our life. A life of pleasure makes us a Spector not an Engager with life.”

Authentic happiness doesn’t happen quickly since it involves our daily choices of how we think, feel, and react. We can choose to see our cups as half empty and remain thirsty – the perpetual pessimist – or half full and grateful for the amount which will quench our thirst – the true optimist. The amount in the cup is the same but the perspective we bring to it determines our level of happiness. With free will we are in total control of our happiness level. We can choose to use it and view challenges in the frame of – ‘why not make tomorrow a better day by searching for the lessons of today’ or reduce our happiness level by thinking ‘why bother it won’t matter anyway.’

Over the next few days check yourself. Are you engaged in life, happy for another day to accomplish things and learn life lessons along the way? If not, you can choose to change your perspective and change your life. Greater happiness is really just a thought away.

Have a great few days!

The Beauty of the Rose

We learn everyday in every way when we choose to be an avid participant of the Universe. When we take the time and apply our brains and hearts to observe events we see we begin to realize that life is not simply a series of random events that happen to us but are, in fact, all held together by a magnet of meaning, purpose and reason. Each person, place or thing that comes into our lives is serving a purpose. The question then is …what do we do with our experiences? Do we attempt to learn from them or pass through the experiences as quickly as possible in an attempt to accomplish the next thing on our ‘to do’ list? Is it possible to look at our constant need to rush as a modern tragedy of our lifestyles? If so, we can choose to do something about it. Even though we are moving faster and time seems to be speeding up, we can train ourselves to focus more intently on the various interactions we experience at the moment to gain a deeper understanding of what life is teaching us. In the process we achieve the divine grace … The lesson …intended in each experience.

It may seem a bit overwhelming to think about every person, place or thing that comes into our lives as a learning opportunity. It is rather like being in a 24/7 classroom where the instructor is continually giving us new learning. Yet, we can look at this concept with gratitude or choose to see it as simply information overload. It is an opportunity to grow or to stagnate. The choice is always up to us.

We may decide to look at all these experiences like Don Quixote did in the musical ‘Man of La Mancha.’ He chose to see the rough and degraded Aldonza for her inner beauty and, in fact, renamed her Dulcinea. When he chose to see her inner beauty it caused a transformation to happen. People – including ourselves – really do live up to expectations. It’s helpful to remember to bless the beauty of the rose and forgive the thorns.

Our spiritual growth is enhanced when we decide to see the opportunities presented to us as another stepping stone in our deeper awareness of ourselves and this life experience. You are going to live through them anyway – why not grab hold of the moment and learn from it?

Have a great few days!

Are You Inclusive or Exclusive?

How comfortable are you with diversity? When we think about the Universal Energy of which we are all apart how can the diversity in others cause us fear or concern? Are we not all on a journey to learn our own unique lessons in life? Are we not all wanting the same thing? I believe each of us is wishing and hoping for others to look favorably upon us regardless of who we are and the struggles we are involved with while living on planet earth. Yet, sometimes we find ourselves viewing the habits of others and we think to ourselves, ‘well that’s rather strange.’ Let’s think again about the last time we felt uncomfortable because someone didn’t fit neatly into our own definition of comfort zone. I’ll bet a situation can immediately come to mind.

There are so many types of diversity: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic, status, age, physical abilities, mental capacity, religious beliefs, political beliefs the list could go on and on. The differences are so great that it is sometimes a real challenge – maybe even impossible – to find others that view life through a similar lens. What if the Universe designed the differences as a test to teach us something about acceptance?

Seems to me that we can look upon differences in one of two ways. The first is with acceptance and a level of respect that causes us to move beyond tolerance to actually embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity within each individual. As we observe their differences we learn from them and become wiser people in the process. Or, the other option is to run back into our own comfort zone and think to ourselves that we alone have the right or proper view of life. When people take this second approach, we can see it in their faces and feel it in their energy. Their facial muscles tighten, their arms are frequently crossed in front of them and their eyes, the window to their soul, say to us, stay away you are not like me and I am not comfortable around you. When you observe people with this mindset something sad happens as they live out their life. Their world becomes smaller and smaller. Frequently they become fearful and angry at the world in general. It is, as if, they have spiraled down to a mere point of simply existing – not fully living – but merely existing. How sad.

What if we all made it a point to expand our comfort zone in some way just for today? It doesn’t have to be a biggie but just something that causes us a slight discomfort. Discomfort can be a good thing. It can indicate an area for potential growth. The opportunity to become a wiser, more accepting human being is in our hands. We simply need to decide if we are big enough, strong enough or wise enough to become more inclusive and less exclusive. Due to free will the choice is always up to us.

Let’s take the challenge and pick up the ball and run with it today and look at another human being that is different from ourselves with acceptance and celebration. Doing so will cause us to smile when we go to bed tonight realizing that we purposely pushed our envelop of comfort and in doing so we have enlarged our lives and made the world a little better place.

Have a great few days!

Building on Your Strength

If I asked you to take a few minutes to list your five most important attributes , what would they be? Many of us may struggle with this task. It just seems rather off-putting somehow to write on paper. So often we can see the goodness in others but rush, embarrassingly, to dismiss any compliments or comments about our own strengths when we hear them . We don’t want to appear ‘full of ourselves’ thinking humility is next to perfection – or Godliness – as the nuns repeated many times to us in school.

I bought that decades ago but now realize that we really don’t have to work at being humble. I think the world just has a way of reminding us of our humanness as we face the challenges and opportunities in our tomorrows. Just when we think we have all the answers, somehow, life changes and we are no longer even sure of the questions. Reality and humility combine into a powerful force that causes us to draw from that inner reserve of our authentic self to move through the latest challenge we are facing.

What I do think important and life sustaining is to actually name our strengths and realize how fortunate we are to be able to recognize and be grateful for them. It adds to our inner reserve as we decide what to do, become or develop next in ourselves. Change comes in all forms, self improvement frequently seems the most difficult.

Show me the person who does not do a little self evaluation for the purpose of clarity and improvement, from time to time, and I will show you a person that has little joy and even less excitement in their life. I actually met a person, once, who said she did not have anything she wanted to improve. I thought she was joking, then realized she was serious. Wow! Rather than thinking this was a person with a super dose of self confidence, I simply felt sad because I realized what a tremendous burden it must be to carry around that amount of fear. Fear (false expectations about future reality) can paralyze us and cause us to build a ‘protective wall’ around us to keep keep others out and ourselves chained to our yesterdays. This ‘wall’ is made up of the negative energy in fear and people, do indeed, run from it.

The challenge, it seems, is to refuse to be cowered by fear and to be authentically honest with yourself. Seeing your strengths as building blocks for a better tomorrow.

You are the one and only you in the Universe. The genuine article! At the cell level you are a part of the Universal Energy. The same energy that we know cannot be created nor destroyed only changed in form. When you are the same inside and out you can see yourself as others see you and a greater depth in the fabric of your being begins to emerge. Being authentic allows us to be grateful for our strengths and also willing to see new ways that we can become even more peaceful, loving, accepting and confident. We become happy in our own skin and draw others to us because of our positive energy.

Free will, the gift from the Universe allows us choice and the choice we make today will be the life we live out tomorrow! Make it a great one!

Visualize Your Tomorrows!

There are people that make things happen and those that wait for things to happen in their lives. Which one are you? The secret to making things happen in your life is to form a detailed mental picture of what you want and repeatedly visualize it in your mind AND feel it in your heart. The emotional component is what really makes the visualization become a reality. It goes beyond simply wishing or hoping for something. With visualization you see it in your mind and mentally try it on for size, adjusting slightly until it’s a perfect fit. Sound easy? It can be once you believe that you are entitled to all the happiness in life you desire.

An example of how to make creative visualization work for you could be to ‘pretend’ you are looking for a different car. What do you want it to look like, drive like? How many miles on the odometer are you willing to accept? How does it feel when you get behind the wheel to drive? How much are you willing to pay for it? See yourself signing the contract for the amount you are willing to pay and driving it with a big smile on your face. Visualize and FEEL it day after day. Know that it will happen. Keep experiencing the ‘feel’ of the car and sooner than you realize it will happen.

After achieving whatever initial visualization you have put out to the Universe, you may want to apply this process to other parts of your life. What, for example, would your life look like if you felt whole, perfect and complete? That is a much deeper thought but it is so important to realize the process of visualizing is the same. Can you actually see in your mind and feel in your heart how things would be different for you than they are now? The first step is to think about those differences and recognize them. What you have versus what you want takes mental and emotional work. It is hard work at first because it is repetitive and you have to suspend any disbelief you have that the process will work. Just like everything we do in life it takes work. This is just a different kind of work from what you might be used to doing. The phrase, ‘fake it ’till you make it’ applies in visualization.

At our core, we are all made up of energy. Remember the phrase, ‘like attracts like?’ So it is with the energy of the Universe. There is negative or positive energy in our thinking, being, doing. What are you drawing into your own energy field? You can harness positive energy to make your dreams a reality through the practice of visualization or simply wait, passively, and let things happen to you. The choice is always up to you. The Universe provides to us whatever is foremost in our thinking.

Even with the lessons that we have agreed to learn in our prebirth agreements, we still have the power of free will in the how’ we learn those lessons. It’s rather like the choice of pulling or pushing a wagon. One way is easier than the other and yet the wagon still is moved. I believe the power in the Universe can be harnessed through our ability to visualize what we want to have, achieve, and be in our lives.

When things challenge us, hurt us or loss happens there is a point at which we may see it and wonder why, demanding that this not be happening, or we can look it straight in the eye and refuse to be altered in our belief that things happen for a reason. We can use the power of visualization and get through it and learn from it, ultimately becoming stronger in the process or not. Our viewpoint is a critically important part of our gift of free will. We can harness the power of positive energy through visualization. The choice is always up to us.

The phrase s… happens, is true for all of us. Also true is the thought, ‘ what I do about it is totally up to me.’ What a gift we have been given with free will! Give visualization a chance. What do you have to lose?

What is Your Gold Nugget?

Our thoughts, are the keys that open or close all doors in our lives. We know that positives attract positives and conversely, negatives attract negatives. Why would anyone allow themselves to be surrounded by or immersed in an ocean of negative thoughts from themselves or others? I believe it has to do with the concept of free will. Although we have chosen this life for the life lessons we wanted to learn, it is our RESPONSE to the lessons, using our free will, that is the key factor.

For instance,if you think of taking a cross country trip, you plan overnight stays in certain locations. You know ahead of time the distance you plan to drive in a given day, the time it should take. That seems logical, dependable and certain. However, due to our gift of free will, even though the major stops (or lessons) don’t change, we sometimes choose an alternate path. Maybe something sparks our interest and we take a short side trip on our route. Possibly, a detour on the road causes our plans to be changed momentarily. Road construction, even wild fires or floods can delay your progress. How do we respond to a change in our plans? Do we get upset and blame ourself or others? I have learned to look at those changes more simply. Everything happens for a reason and everything will work out just the way it is supposed to. The Universe/God doesn’t make mistakes. My son has told me this, repeatedly, in my book, Just Behind the Door. The important thing to remember is that your goal hasn’t changed, you will still reach your specific destination (the lessons you chose to learn).

Reflect back on some of the events in your life that just seemed destined to happen. A person you met or married, a specific job to agreed to or a house you moved into; didn’t it just feel right AT THE TIME? When your heart tells you ‘this is the place to go for now,’ I believe it is a sign of a predestined event where a life lesson has yet to be learned. These lessons are like precious gold nuggets that need to be unearthed in your mind. Be gentle with yourself as you do the mental work to unearth the lesson. Take the time to truly think about why, in retrospect, that particular situation happened? The WAY YOU PROCESS what your have experienced makes all the difference. The lessons you are learning in your life can be viewed as terribly unfair, eliciting anger, resentment and fear or you can allow yourself to feel that pain, recognize the hurt, but most importantly, SEARCH FOR WHAT YOU ARE LEARNING from it. You will know if it is a life lesson if it is one of the hardest things you have ever encountered. Treat yourself with love, do the work to unearth your gold nugget. You deserve it. You have a piece of Divine energy in you. Once you thoroughly process through the reason, eliminating the need to blame others, you will be able to move on with grace, dignity and, most importantly, a heightened sense of self worth. You did everything 100% right with the information you had at the time. After discovering your “gold nugget” on the issue and responding with a deeper belief in yourself and confidence in tomorrow you will be so much wiser and at peace.

The really great news is, once you unearth the nugget, that particular life lesson will not resurface again in your life. Trust me on this, I have had so many similar life lessons that I chose to move through quickly, while I just kept going at the hectic pace I had become used to in my life. What happened? The same lesson came back around to bite me again, again and again. Now I can finally say, “I get it!”