Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘positive energy’

This Works!

How many times have you wished you could just slow down your brain as it flits from past, present and future thoughts at warp speed? You know what I mean…when you simply can’t seem to relax and pretty soon you are thinking or worrying about so many things that you become a bit overwhelmed or exhausted. You may even start one thing and get distracted as you move to another and another. When I was working I remember at times that I seemed to be making myself nervous! I often wondered if there was a way to slow down those brain synapses. 
Well, there is now something that works and it easy to do! It’s called Mindfulness Training which was developed out of MIT originally to help cancer patients focus on their healing. The actual course consists of 30 hours of training and can be a challenge to work into a busy schedule but… I’m going to share the essence of it and resources on the web so you can begin to use it in your life. Trust me you will be glad you did.
Basically, it’s about paying attention to your breathing. I know… It sounds to simple or basic to be real but stay with me on this. With eyes closed sitting in a relaxed position stay focused on each breath as you inhale and exhale. As each new thought pops into your mind (and at first there will be hundreds it seems) you simply let each thought go and return to the awareness of breathing. This will take a few times to actually get into the hang of it but sooner rather than later it will actually get easier.
This technique actually changes a part of your brain which increases your ability to slow down and focus. I have often wrote about neuroplasticity which is the brains way to change with new stimuli. The research on Mindfulness actually proves that is exactly what is happening when you practice this frequently. You are giving your brain the message that you want greater focus with a more calming approach to attend to your daily tasks. The amazing thing is that this doesn’t slow you down or lessen what you can achieve but you do so in a much more calm, positive and productive way. Just think… this is without any artificial stimulants!
To get started I suggest that you go to the HOV.com website (Hospice of the Valley) and click on ‘News and Resources.’ Scroll down on the page to ‘Mindfulness Classes’ and click on the text ‘Enjoy a Mindfulness sitting right now.’ You will see 12 different options. For each option you can listen to someone walk you through the exercise. I suggest the 5 or 15 minute sitting a few times each week. According to the research it is more beneficial to do a short exercise frequently rather than a longer one less often.
This is the first time I have ever discovered something that helps focus, calm and bring a sense of control in even the most challenging circumstance. Try it for a week or two. Once you get the hang of it you can sit quietly even in your car, breathe slowly for 3 of 5 minutes before going into your next appointment and center yourself. You will be amazed at the difference!
Have a great few days!

Your Face Speaks Volumes!

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken. Remember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.
It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken. Remember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.
It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken

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R

emember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.

It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

Resiliency – the Winning Factor!

You are stronger than you think… take a moment and take stock. Over the past month or week have you had to confront an issue or challenge that you simply did not think would be possible to overcome? Yet, somehow you dug deep to find the strength to carry on and develop a plan to address the circumstance. You persisted until you could and see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and form a plan. Where did your strength come from… was it there all along just waiting to be tapped?

The answer to the question is yes…simply yes – but the reason behind the yes is even more enlightening because it was due to something called resiliency. Some people develop it early in life yet for others it may take much longer. Resiliency is more closely correlated to awareness than age. All of us can experience greater resiliency by learning what it takes to develop it.

Resiliency begins to form when we know that we are loved unconditionally – that someone (family or friends) are there for us when we need them. Further, when we have people in our lives that believe in us and frequently remind us that we have what it takes to be successful it helps us believe in ourselves and our own potential. In addition, when we are truly accepted regardless of our unique – maybe even challenging – personality traits and know that our ideas and opinions are valued and considered we develop greater personal strength. We begin to develop the real deal – authentic confidence. When we stop to think about it both the verbal and nonverbal messages we received from our family imprinted on our brains – early and often – as we were growing up. Were they messages of inclusion or differences? Another extremely important factor in developing resiliency is the need to live by clear and consistent boundaries in life. While some may think that boundaries are restrictive, unnecessary, or stifle a sense of independence actually the opposite is true. Boundaries give us a feeling of security which helps us develop into confident human beings. When we are growing up we may chafe at them but deep down they bring a calm, purposeful intent to our daily existence. Living with boundaries help us formulate the true North for our lives.

As the above conditions become integral in our life we begin to find our voice, develop positive listening skills and healthy conflict resolutions skills because we have a framework upon which to build.

Think about it this way, resiliency is like a chair with four legs – unconditional love from others, frequent positive messages about our own potential, clear and consistent boundaries, and positive communication and conflict resolutions skills. To be fully functioning human beings and support ourselves we need all four legs of the chair.

The importance of developing greater resiliency in life cannot be overstated. Without it we often see people who feel both helpless and hopeless – defeated before they even started. The good news is that we can become stronger, happier and more secure individuals when we work on developing greater resiliency in our lives and the lives of those we love. There is never a time limit on growth!

Have a great few days!

The Truth of the Matter…

As children we were raised to always tell the truth – don’t lie, cheat or steal – and to treat others as we wanted to be treated. There was even a time when a firm handshake indicated a commitment – our word – to support an endeavor. Yet, lately these values seem to have been pushed aside by many and truth telling seems to have become a rare commodity. Did this happen overnight or was it a slow creep that we at first disregarded and then came to accept as the new norm? Whether we are dealing with areas such as the big pharma companies, college sports, financial institutions or more recently from some seeking the presidential nod we witness questionable ethics. Truth is being stretched, manipulated or even denied. As people we are left to wonder is truth even attainable and if so how do we access it?

Let’s look at a few specifics. I know of a person who has a serious medical condition that requires daily medication. Over the past four years this same medication has increased from $12,000 per month to nearly $20,000 – same dosage, same regime. Yes, you read that amount correctly – $20,000 – and since she has insurance this monthly cost is primarily picked up by them. That still doesn’t make it right.

Or how about the Southern Methodist University basketball player whose high school academic record was mysteriously altered to make him eligible to be recruited and play at the college level. You may think to yourself – I’ve heard similar stories before so you know the sad ending. The student eventually hits a brick wall but in the meantime, the institution makes hundreds of thousands of dollars off their skills. That’s not right.

Recently, we read reports that some financial institutions had been fined millions of dollars for their highly questionable practices (basically summed up as they win and we lose) yet when they were caught they were allowed to simply pay the fines and continue working in the same field. Seriously! ..that’s not right.

A few of our presidential candidates are even promising to fix everything – by themselves – a sort of one man band – without working through Congress. Do we really believe that anyone working alone can fix any and all ills that presently effect us? Forgetting about cell phone videos one candidate visiting Michigan recently announced at one of his events that due to space limitations, ‘thousands of people are outside unable to get a seat today.’ Ahh … here it comes … the YouTube video of this same event showed about 75 people and not ‘thousands’ were outside – some of whom had come to the event to protest. Why the need to exaggerate? Hmm… bigger is not necessarily better. Again, that’s not right.

Actually, amid all of the chaos we can access fact checkers, videos, and on line information like never before to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. But here is the challenge – we have to make time in our lives – even 15 minutes a day – to check further and not simply believe statements that are purposely repeated and repeated with greater flair each time in an effort to burn into our brains as ‘truth.’ The old adage stands… ‘If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is…’

I’m too old to believe a savior can ride in on a white horse, wave a magic wand and improve things overnight. It has taken years – decades even – to get to this point. But is it too much to ask for our business and political leaders to be held accountable and forced to demonstrate honesty? We need leaders who can be adults and put people above profit and truth above theatrics.

I will continue to refuse to believe that all is lost or that honesty was a thing of the past or accept the oft heard comment … ‘that’s just the way things are’… Instead, I will make a personal commitment to question, to seek the rest of the story, to use my brain to analyze the reality of the situation and be willing to gently but firmly share what I have discovered with others as I listen to their point of view. This takes time but what price are we willing to pay to reestablish integrity and honesty? What type of nation do we want our children and grandchildren to inherit?

I will continue to believe that everything happens for a purpose – that what goes around comes around – and to accept my responsibility in making positive change happen. The energy we put out to the Universe makes a difference. I choose to be a positive force of change, in my own way to the best of my ability. Because truth is not for sale to the highest bidder.

Have a great few days!

Enough with the Negativity!

My blog written last week entitled, ‘Stress and the Sexes’ explained the different way long term stress effects men and women. If you are like me the stress of this election year has reached a fever pitch and yet we have over 9 months left to go – that’s a sobering and exhausting thought. Think of it this way, by the time it’s over it will be nearly a year of our lives that will never be regained. How are we going to choose to spend it?

At first listening to every candidate helped me understand what they believed in and would hopefully work for once in office. There were major differences which is understandable. Catching each debate – both Democrat and Republican – seemed like the responsible thing to do as I scratched the dates off my list. Watching the candidates evolve on issues gave me a sense of pride. Yes, some were listening to the folks they talked to along the primary trail and seemed genuinely interested in the opinions of us ‘regular folks.’ Some even went so far as to admit that they alone are not a miracle worker and cannot simply promise to make big things happen in isolation of our Congress. After all we do not live in a dictatorship and our country cannot be run as such. Honesty is inspirational and humility refreshing. We all know that it requires those folks we elected into office from our states working together with a President to get lasting changes for the country. From our recent history we can see what devastating effects emerge when that does not happen.

Early on in the campaigns there was a thread of negative messaging by a few of the would be hopefuls but it has now reached a point of no return. No longer do we hear what a candidate stands for but why someone running against them is incompetent, out of touch, a liar or just plain bad for the country. In other words, the debates and interviews are no longer about what the candidate would do if elected but why we must fear their opponent. Fear seems to be the operative word in this campaign from some of the candidates. Fear is debilitating, depressing and a cheap shot in an attempt to win votes. Have we truly devolved into a culture where character assassination is not only accepted but applauded? The last time I checked dog fights are illegal yet somehow this practice has morphed into the behavior of some of the candidates. When I listen to them I find myself embarrassed by their theatrics.

Will we choose to be motivated to vote from a position of hope or fear? It will be a long election year if fear, hate and discontent continue to emerge as the flavor of this years election cycle. Do we have concerns and serious areas of needed change.. absolutely! The list is quite long actually. Recognizing these needs can be enlightening or overwhelmingly depressing – I choose the former.

It’s always a challenge to look optimistically at whatever life presents us. It takes strength to believe in the possibilities of our tomorrows. Yet, to do so allows us the positive energy to go on. A can do attitude is what formed our country – and a great country it is…maybe it’s time to turn off and tune out the barrage of negative campaign adds, interviews and debates in an attempt to protect our own psyche. Being informed is our right and responsibility in the democracy in which we live. Once we feel we know what the candidates stand for it might be good for our own emotional health to say to ourselves enough – and pick up that good book we are reading or escape to the latest NetFlix movie for real entertainment.

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!

Are You In a Dependent Relationship?

I have written about the four different types of love that were identified by the Greeks hundreds of years ago (see blog archive 8/16/15). Their point as reiterated by David Brooks in his book, The Social Animal,” was that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to develop in relationships over time. That makes sense. Once the initial physical attraction is experienced, deep love like the flowering of a rose takes time to tend and nurture to full bloom as it celebrates the individual strengths of each other.

But what happens if the Philemon type of love – the platonic, friendship type of love you have with a best friend seems to be difficult to juggle as you spend more time with your new found love? Let’s first look at what causes two people to become best friends. Shared interests, respect, admiration and concern all rank high on the list of factors.

However, once in a while this type of love can devolve into a needy, unhealthy type of dependent relationship. When you share your excitement about this special person in your life with your best friend and you hear subtle demands that infiltrate into your relationship such as wanting to know when they will see you again it’s time to consider the possibility that this could be a type of co-dependency. Maybe – maybe not – but for sure sharing you is not something they want to do. The label itself is less important than the recognition of the signs involved.

Any dependency is usually rooted in childhood and these individuals often become ‘survivors’ that exhibit fear, anger, pain or shame which was ignored or denied early on in life. These feelings begin to color their world over time since dependency is a learned behavior. The more it is practiced the stronger it becomes. The friendships they develop are more need than mere want but they simply don’t see it since abandonment is a constant issue.

The good news is that by recognizing dependency and learning more about the signs and signals it can be overcome and replaced by confidence and trust in one’s own ability to thrive in future healthy, loving relationships regardless of what happened in childhood.

How do you know if a relationship of dependency exists? Let’s look at some other possible indicators. Is there a pressure to touch base frequently – fearing anger or hurt exhibited from the other person if you are not in constant contact? In reality, best friends can go days, weeks, or months without touching base but still know the other person cares for them and has their best interest at heart.

If you experience feelings of rejection when you spend time with someone other than the dependent friend and it results in pouting, temporary withdrawal or outright anger until they have your attention once again – you can be sure dependency exists.

Other indicators of co-dependent people are their difficulty talking with people in authority, making decisions, handling pressure regarding time frames for completion of tasks, difficulty or even rigidity in adjusting to change, feelings of inadequacy, and an inability to share their feelings – especially with family members. Basically, they have low self-esteem often due to their early upbringing.

If you are involved in this type of relationship at first you may feel a sense of importance by ‘being needed.’ Unfortunately, your attention and constant concern or attempt to do more than your share does not help since this behavior can become compulsive and self-defeating as the reliance increases. In essence, both parties start to develop a view of ‘us against the world’ and the dependency increases.

As stated, the good news is that when the dependency is recognized and steps are taken to readjust the invasive nature of this type of relationship personal growth is experienced by both parties and over time an even higher level of friendship develops. Sometimes it takes a best friend to get their attention and even professional to unearth the need for dependency.

When you really care about another you want the best for them. Moving from dependency to independence is the best gift you can gift yourself and the other person. The Philemon type of love is a critical element in best friends as well as deeper love relationships.

Have a great few days!