Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘gratitude’

Make It Happen! 

In the late 1970’s (yes, I am disclosing my age) I taught many classes on goal achievement from material written by Dr. Lou Tice. At the time it was looked upon as rather cutting edge – a way to show people how they could actually attain what they wanted In life. However, this approach was first taught by Robert Collier (1885-1950). His now famous instruction: “See the things that you want as already yours. Know that they will come to you. Then let them come. Don’t fret and worry about them. Don’t think about your lack of them. Think of them as yours, as belonging to you, as already in your possession.” Since that time books such as ‘The Secret’ among many, many others have utilized the concepts from Collier and Tice to help us understand that our thoughts are so much more powerful than we may think. We all remember the phrase – garbage in garbage out. Well it’s the same idea with goal attainment only in reverse with positive thought, word and action rather than negative. What you think about most often, WITH EMOTION comes to pass every time. 
In essence, you are sending out to the Universe a laser like beam of positive energy when you focus on something you want in your life. As with everything in life – like attracts like. So if you want something and you can feel with positive emotion how great it will be once it is achieved or received the Universe really does responds in kind. It works like a magnet to bring whatever is foremost in your mind to you.
It is important to be specific. When I was teaching that first series in goal attainment way back in the dark ages a person in the class wanted a patio set. Sounds easy enough right? But I pushed her further to describe the shape, size, color, and last but most important how much she was willing to pay for it. The cost is important. When you state the cost you then relax in knowing that you can afford it – it’s in your mental budget. That’s the essence of constructive motivation. Think of this approach as your personal ‘Amazon in the Universe.’ You see it, feel it, order it and it is delivered to you!
You might wonder why such specificity is important. Quite simply, with each detail you think about you are giving the goal more energy, more excitement. If it is a new house, for example, visualize yourself signing papers with a smile on your face, walking though it with tremendous pride and happiness and knowing in your heart that this is exactly what you wanted and for the amount you wanted to pay. Remember, the more you can feel it, see it and think it the quicker it will come to pass. 
At first, you might think that this approach is a bit far fetched. Trust me it is not. You are meant to have a happy, abundant life. All you have to do is believe that you are worthy, and truly deserve it and it will be yours.
Well, you might be thinking, if this is so easy why doesn’t everyone do it. Good question…the only thing I can think is that if you are a skeptic, don’t believe you are worthy, or have other negative emotions in your mind that type of energy forms a block to the Universe and your message to the Universe is short circuited. If you really can’t see it or truly believe it’s possible you push it away.
Goal attainment calls for a full on press to the finish line. Give it a try and let me know how it felt when what you desired was received. As with everything in life remember the importance of gratitude when you achieve it. Gratitude fuels the Universe. 
Have a great few days! 

The Miracle of the Season

Christmas is five days away! What happened to the time…to the year? We have all lived through blessings, challenges and opportunities this year. Some have caused us to grow beyond our wildest imaginings while others have caused us to make mid course corrections and adapt to new life changes. What we do know is that all were intended…all were for the purpose of self growth. As we run around feverishly picking up the last present at the store (or the mailbox for our online shoppers) let’s remember the unconditional love of the season – and keep it foremost in our hearts. Christmas brings out the best in all of us as we reflect on a few simple truths such as…

Friends and family without them our lights would not shine quite as brightly. If someone is struggling now is the time to go the extra mile to show them we care. Random acts of kindness can be a lifeline to another especially at this time of year.

Health – although we may be doing well it’s important to remember that for some fellow travelers health issues may be a challenge. They need our understanding. Regardless of our condition each of us wants to be treated with dignity and respect and seen as a capable human being. Everyone has the capacity to make a positive difference until our last breath – and beyond.

Opportunities – when we review what we have faced this year some things might not have gone as planned. We may have run into some difficulty with others. As Desmond Tutu tells us that ‘forgiveness is nothing less than the way to heal the world’ one person at a time. Let’s heal it together.

Joy – we can see it everywhere. The smiles, the hugs, the laughter of others helps us to remember – all is good with the world – and we see it clearly when we stop long enough to breathe deeply and live in the present.

Gratitude – it brings light into our lives and makes our life lessons easier when we appreciate what we have and maintain a mindset of ‘YES.’ It gives us strength and enthusiasm to face our tomorrows.

Our loved ones who have passed on left us with an incredible gift – unconditional love. Let’s pass it on to others and change the world.

For today, next week and next year – we can choose to remember the feelings we have at this time of year and decide – right here right now – to continue this unconditional love and appreciation for our life and those who are in it. Life really is good, our cups really are full and everything will work out just as it’s suppose to … it just takes a little faith in the miracle of life here on planet Earth.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Message of Hope

“You can make a difference in the world. What better day to start than today? I encourage you to always know your purpose, follow it, work hard at it, choose to have a positive perspective on how to view the world around you, choose to overcome your own hard times and choose hope within them. Life, in fact, is all about choice and the choice is yours alone to make. Choose hope.” Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis the first grade teacher from Sandy Hook elementary that hid her 15 first graders in the tiny bathroom within her classroom ends every speech, as she did Friday night in Tempe, Arizona with this powerful message.

In her recently published book entitled, ‘Choosing Hope,’ she gives us a glimpse of the tragedy she lived through when 20 children and 6 staff members were viciously gunned down on December 14, 2012. We all heard the facts continuously repeated in the media. Yet, when you put a name with a face and hear the events reiterated by the person who was literally a wall away it impacts your senses. She explains what it was like to hear the gunfire and people pleading for their lives as she attempted to keep her loving charges quiet and hidden from ‘the bad man.’ It simply stops you in your tracks and you reflect on the importance of living bravely, loving fully and seeing gratitude in absolutely everything in life.

As Kaitlin said, ‘you don’t move on but can choose to move forward’ with your life. That is a powerful thought that needs to roll around in our brains to be fully appreciated. We don’t move on from death or violence but we can move forward.

She confidently explained the steps she had taken to help heal. Therapy and the ongoing support from a loving father, mother and fianc√© were all an integral part of her healing process. At first glance you might think she has been magically ‘fixed’ until an unusual sound in the room causes her eyes to flash as she seeks out like a laser beam the origin. Ahh yes, you think to yourself, you can recognize the sign of a fellow traveler whose life has been forever changed through a tragedy. We are just a bit more aware and cautious as we take in our surroundings. We are on alert as the deeply hidden wound in our psyche momentarily surfaces.

You can’t help but be amazed at her story. A feeling of hope cascades over you as you hear her talk about her ‘tomorrow’s.’ Here is a 31 year old woman who has been forever changed, marked if you will, through violence, fear and loss that most of us can’t even conceptualize yet she chooses to push us to focus on recognizing our own life purpose and live each day in a grateful, positive state of mind. Amazing.

You leave thinking about the immensity of her experience and naturally reflect on any issue that may have recently surfaced in your life that seemed to momentarily disrupt our flow. We feel humbled maybe even embarrassed at the comparison. Kaitlin’s journey can help us keep things in perspective and give us confidence to know that as human beings we are capable of incredible feats of bravery, understanding and healing when we keep our eyes forward on our tomorrow’s.

The next time we have a personal life challenge and become frightened that we may lose it, we will stop and remember … we really are capable of tremendous resiliency. We can make it though unbelievable life challenges when we choose to overcome rather than succumb.

May we live long enough to see less violence and more love in our world.

Have a great few days!

Being in the Now

Today is the 4th of July, a day of celebration in recognition of our independence as a nation. There will be fireworks tonight that are so beautiful the ‘ahhs’ of the crowds will be heard and universally shared. When the Grand Finale of the individual firework displays happen, the crowds erupt in applause – it’s a thank you to the event coordinators, managers and even to our nation which supports this day with such recognition.The tempting smells of hamburgers and hotdogs grilling make us aware of the importance of family and friends as we indulge in the delicious recipes that have been passed down from generations. How fortunate we are to live in a country that believes in the rights of the individual and celebrates this day with us.

Events like today allow us to ‘be in the moment.’ I know it’s an overused phrase but the reality is that most of us are so busy worrying about our tomorrows that often today just passes us by and we are left wondering where the time has gone. When days, months and years pass by at what seems like the speed of light it’s important to consider if we have learned anything, developed a deeper understanding or appreciation from our life experiences or … Are we actively growing and becoming or simply waiting, wondering and using up our time in the regrets of yesterday or worries about our tomorrows?

Let’s make a pact, tonight when watching the fireworks – in person or on T.V. with each explosion of color, let’s take in the experience completely. No thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow just absorbing the 30 or 45 minutes of pure delight. Think of it as a gift – the gift of being in the moment – that we choose to give ourselves.

Books have been written by many people about the importance of living in the now. In fact, some would say we can only know the power and love of the Universal Energy when we are in the now – living in the flow of the moment – when time seems to stand still. There is no constant chatter in our brains when we are in the now, no should, could or if only, no voices interrupting our personal reverie – just the sweet escape of the moment and we smile from inside out. We feel something bigger, more grand that may remain undefined by words but felt in our hearts.

Have a great holiday!

Be Part of the Change!

Every once in a while we experience a serendipitous event – being in the right place at the right time – which causes a renewed sense of belief in tomorrow. We take a deep breath and think to ourselves ‘Yes, there is much right with the world.’ This is how I felt when reading a newspaper article about money, happiness and a CEO’s determined action to change his company for the better. Some of you may remember one of my April blogs about Dan Price the CEO Of Gravity Payments. (You can retrieve the original blog by going to the archive section of my website.)

Mr. Price, the remarkable human being mentioned in the New York Times article, has chosen to make a BIG difference in the lives of his employees. After reading articles about income and happiness (those of you who follow this website realize that the two are absolutely NOT correlated) this incredible individual decided to do something about it. Rather than following the typical pattern of other CEO’s and amassing millions upon millions of personal wealth this modern day hero has chosen to change the frame – the mindset – and the lives of all of his employees. He will reduce his annual salary to $70,000 and redirect both his salary difference and 80% of Gravity’s annual profit to his employees. Over the next three years even the lowest paid employee will begin earning $70,000 per year.

If you are like me you may have had to read the punch line more than once to believe it. Yet it’s true. Incredible don’t you think? Something tells me that his personal happiness factor will be off the charts! He has internalized and acted upon the true meaning of love, gratitude and compassion. The Dalai Lama would be proud.

What if … just what if … his actions begin to influence others. Can you imagine if other CEO’s decide to do something – anything – to distribute more money back to the rank and file of their companies? Before Dan Price we would have responded, ‘right …when pigs fly!’ But our disbelief must now be put aside because we have one living, breathing example before us. He is one of the 1% that gets it!

Like everything in life change starts with one individual who sees a better way and acts on it. It doesn’t always make one popular with their peers – at least initially – but it does make the world a better place. Their actions stand out like the tallest billboard along the highway flashing with neon lights and says, “Together we can make a difference!”

Let’s add our two cents into this scenario. I understand that the company would like to facilitate discussion on this through their social media avenues. Remember one voice added to another can make the changes we want to see in our world. Please take the time to comment on their Facebook and Twitter accounts at Facebook.com/Gravitypayments or DanPriceSeattle or Gravitypymts. From the comfort of our own home we could be instrumental in propelling this change forward!

Have a great few days!

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!

Determining Your Authentic Self

Have you ever felt that you are not being appreciated or that you are doing all the giving or supporting in a work or personal relationship? If you answered yes to this question let’s look a bit deeper into it. Could it be that you are so interested in getting others to accept or appreciate you that you have not allowed your authentic self to show? Is the fear of people really knowing you blocking you from showing the world what you truly stand for? If so, let me assure you that being authentic draws people to you – not ever away. People can feel truth.

Being authentic starts by first determining what is most important to you in life. As unique individuals we each have specific values that we hold most dear – those things that are truly nonnegotiable to us. Think about them as your personal mission statement. Values such as love, accomplishment, fairness, compassion, confidence, courage, health, freedom, family, harmony, integrity, kindness, optimism, patience, service, trust, orderliness, peace, spirituality, and gratitude are just a few from a long list of values to consider. Each one speaks volumes. Once you determine your own priority of values navigating through life becomes so much easier. In essence, you become more confident and decision making becomes easier because you are more at peace in your own skin.

A helpful way to determine your authentic self is to choose five values that you find most important. You know, the ones that seem to radiate energy back to you as you consider them. The list of words above can be a starting point to consider. The list is long for a purpose. The process is important. Evaluating each word forces you to take the time to consider what it truly means to you. Determining your top five forces you to prioritize as you remind yourself of who you are in your heart. Once you have taken the time to determine your own nonnegotiable values life becomes easier. When you encounter decisions, challenges or obstacles (the should I or shouldn’t I) in life you have a measuring stick to help steer you on a course of action reflects the real you.

Growing more confident as an individual means that you allow your unique identity to be known by others. But…’what if they won’t like me or accept me for who I am’ you may wonder. It’s true not everyone may like you. Just as you do not necessarily like everyone you encounter. It’s simply a cold, hard immutable fact of life. There are bits and pieces in everyone’s personality that leaves something to be desired. It’s called being human. These little quirks in others can be overlook but the values behind them cannot. A person’s values determine not only who they are but what they will do in a pinch. That’s important to know. Likewise, if we try to morph ourselves into something we do not truly value in order to fit in or be accepted it just doesn’t work. We project insincerity or insecurity that is easily felt by others.

Determining the values you hold dear helps you project with confidence who you really are at your core. Just as truth has no versions – your authentic self has no versions either. Any future role in life will never define you because deep down you know what you stand for – no pretenses necessary. Taking the time to determine your authentic self is critical to self esteem. The process alone will help you begin to truly love yourself for all the strengths you possess and there are many! Give it a try and take the time to decide on your top five values … you’ll be glad you did!

Have a great few days!

Achieve Greater Happiness in Life!

If you were to rank how happy you are with your life right now on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being totally unhappy and 10 being very happy) what would be your number? Really think about it before you assign a number. We may say we want greater happiness in our life but then the question surfaces – what are we are doing to achieve it? As simple as it may sound it really is in the way we choose to view life. When we decide to focus on the positives in our life it helps us achieve a belief system of possibilities. It causes us to see in color rather than black and white. Positive energy is like the Energizer Bunny because it attracts more of the same to us and just doesn’t seem to run out.

Some may delude themselves into thinking they need something else – a person, place or thing to achieve greater happiness in their life. As intriguing as a new car, house, or relationship may sound they are not the answer. Happiness is not a result of acquiring more but recognizing how fortunate we are every day to be alive and able to make our little place in the world a bit better. By practicing gratitude for what we have on a daily basis we become happier, better adjusted individuals. The truth is that at this moment you have everything you will ever need to be your happiest self because it really is an inside job.

Think about the topic of happiness a different way by trying this one on for size, ‘being happy is simple, being unhappy is complicated.’ It really does take more energy and effort to perseverate on something that caused us unhappiness. Some of us let our negative emotions persist longer than is necessary or certainly healthy. To stay angry, resentful or unhappy about anything in our life takes emotional effort. In this state our bodies actually produce chemicals in our brains that match our emotions which can effect our health long term. Is it worth it? To make matters worse often our memories may even add implications to the situations that never even existed! That is what’s meant by making a mountain out of a molehill. When we stop resurrecting the incident it is impossible to stay angry or negative for more than a few minutes.

Think about the last time you were really bothered about something. It was exhausting right? When our minds work overtime to remember an unhappy situation we are actually stealing time away from living today. Each of us has a finite amount of time on this earth. Does it make sense to waste even a moment remembering something that caused us stress or unhappiness? It happened, it’s over and time to move on. You are too important to this world to waste a moment of your time in what was – better to move on to a place of what could be in the future.

When we decide to develop a habit of positive thinking both our physical and mental health improves and just think… it all starts when we start to practice gratitude.

Have a great few days!

An App for Relationships – Really?

I think we have a new entry for ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ – the launch of a new app called ‘Invisible Boyfriend (or Girlfriend).’ Seriously folks, I’m not making this up! It seems this new app will generate voice mails, texts, and even pictures to give the owners ‘believable social proof’ to their friends that they, in fact, have a ‘real-life’ soul mate. This sounds like a take off from a really bad T.V. reality program but which now with the magic of technology can be conveniently available on our cell phones.

Before any of us consider purchasing this type of pretend reality (not that we would of course) maybe we could simply look at our lives with gratitude for what we have and not what we may be tempted to think is lacking. That’s where the art and science of marketing comes in. If we can be convinced that we need to have ——- (fill in the blank) to be happy it means that obviously our lives must be unhappy without it. The sad part of this type of app is that people may begin to see their lives as lacking and fail to be grateful for the abundance each one of us has in one form or another. Like all things in life negative energy (lack) will generate more of the same back to us like an incredibly powerful magnet.

Let’s turn the end of the magnet around to the positive charge and accept that relationships exist in all colors, shades and hues. There is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ that can be cleverly package into the perfect anything. That’s why relationships of any type are both challenging and rewarding. It’s up to us to decide what we want and then work to achieve it. Personal growth and maturity are the benefits of the struggle.

The positive energy we generate when we are grateful for what we do have is a sure fire way to attract more lasting friends and deeper relationships that will last a life time.
Think about the last time someone (friend or family) made you laugh, really listened, hugged you, cried with you, or encouraged you as you faced a challenge in your life. They may not be your ‘soul mate’ but the reality is that they made a positive difference in your life. They were there in flesh and blood when you needed them most. They may have helped you hang on when you felt like giving up and helped you experience growth from a difficult experience.

Maybe life is about being grateful for what we have and not to allow ourselves to think we are not whole unless we search to find Utopia in a person, place or thing. I definitely know it is not inventing a pretend relationship. We are better and smarter than that because we know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be in life, surrounded by people who sincerely love and care about us. Now that’s something to be grateful for don’t you think? Too bad there isn’t an app for that!

Have a great few days!

What Truly Causes Happiness?

Over the years as I have volunteered for charity work which often necessitated asking for financial donations from wealthy individuals I have observed certain behaviors among them that have puzzled me. It seemed a predictable pattern emerge in their responses – they seemed primarily focused on their money rather than matters of the heart. Rather than being moved by the plight of others they often responded that ‘everyone has their problems.’ Was I simply being judgmental I wondered? Now the research is verifying my observations. So if you have always dreamed of being rich – thinking you would be happier – you may want to think again as you read this blog.

Many of us yearn for the day when life gets a bit easier financially – that’s understandable. Some, however, dream of being truly rich and think life would be so much easier, more fun and happier if they had all the money they could ever want. Well, the research proves the opposite. In fact, it verifies what many of us have heard or witnessed in the past – being rich is not the be all and end all as some may have thought. In fact, rich people are not happier individuals than those of us whose modest bank accounts require us to budget, plan ahead and save for a needed or special purchase be it a $50 or $500 dollar one.

Having a great deal of money changes people as demonstrated by Dacher Keltner at the University of California at Berkeley. For instance, the drivers of expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of others than drivers of cheap cars. These wealthy individuals also ignored pedestrians who had the right of way in a crosswalk 46.2 percent of the time! However, all the drivers of cheaper cars respected the rights of the pedestrians. Well, you might think to yourself, maybe it’s just a driving thing. Not so.

Wealthy people give less of their income – percentage wise – to charities, are more likely to shoplift, and are more inclined to cheat in games involving cash prizes. In another research study they even took candy from a bowl labeled ‘For Children’ more often than others of more modest means. What causes this type of hedonistic behavior?

To understand how money changes an individual a UCLA neuroscientist by the name of Keely Muscatell wrote a research paper that demonstrated how wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy. According to the research wealth “triggers a chemical reaction… it tilts the brain… and causes the individuals to be less likely to care about anyone but themselves or to experience the moral sentiments needed to be a decent citizen…or even a happy one.”

Now the latest research findings from many other institutions are all indicating similar findings …money above a certain modest sum does not buy happiness – a fact that rich people are unable to wrap their heads around. When questioned, for example, millionaires felt that they would need 2 to 3 times more money to attain happiness! But all is not lost…rich people who are open to these findings can change regardless of the brain chemicals IF they choose to do so. Ahhh….that’s the question isn’t it.

When we look at the year ahead it would do us good to remember that practicing empathy for others is essential – for our own well being as well as others. That being grateful for whatever we have is vitally important and that ultimately being rich may open more financial doors, but often closes the windows to the soul. Something to think about.

Have a great few days!