Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Self Improvement’

Keeping Things in Perspective

How many times have you found yourself going from zero to 180 over a comment, perceived slight or challenging event only to discover later that the situation was not even close to what you had initially perceived? The truth is that most of us have done so. In retrospect our reaction is embarrassing – if only to ourselves. The real question is how often we allow ourselves to go to this no good, very bad place and do we want to do something about it?

In my last blog I talked about the research done by Dr. Martin Seligman regarding learned optimism. His findings are powerful and deserve greater elaboration. When we are faced with a perceived slight at work or home we may jump to the conclusion that the other person doesn’t like us or questions our viewpoint or skill. If we would just take a deep breath and consider the possibility that the other person 1) did not understand 2) is preoccupied with something in their own life 3) is tired or even ill 4) may simply be on a different wave length, it would go a long way in helping us be happier more optimistic people. When we jump to personalizing a perceived slight without giving the other person the benefit of the doubt everyone loses. Actually, when we really get down to it, rarely is it about us. Even if the slight was intended it says much more about the other person’s sense of inadequacy or frustration than about us. Taking the slight on as truth automatically starts a chain reaction of negative thinking and we are better than that!

If a slight actually does occur it’s important to keep it in perspective. Some people automatically go to the next level and begin to generalize the slight as yet another example of others (the world) continuing to dump on them. They crave sympathy and can go through all kinds of gyrations to get it. If this happens it’s important to remember that empathy is a good thing but sympathy is not – in fact it is downright debilitating. If we are the ones to jump to generalizing after a slight we can become so good at it that within seconds we create a signed, sealed and delivered opinion about ourselves that further erodes our own self worth.

How do we know if there really is an issue about our behavior or attitude that would benefit from a change? The answer is quite simple really. Do we experience repeated examples of comments and behaviors from others that appear the same? If so, is it something that is standing in the way of our own well being? If we discern such a pattern we could ask someone we trust for their honest opinion and then truly listen, without interruption or justification, to what they have to say. Self improvement is a wonderful thing. It says to the world that we are still growing and becoming all we can be.

We can choose one of two paths. The pessimist who reacts defensively to an isolated incident, depletes our energy and expects the world to make him happy or the optimistic who is full of energy and ideas, chooses to look for the pony in the pile, and sees any challenge before him as an opportunity for growth. The choice is ours. The good news is that optimism really can be learned.

Have a great few days!

The Dynamic Duo

The never ending quest for self improvement to achieve greater joy and happiness in life involves an elixir of two essential elements – a healthy dose of playful enthusiasm combined with a strong dose of responsibility and focus. Some of us have lots of one and little of the other. But there is something special in those people who have figured out how to combine the two into the perfect formula for greater happiness and joy in life. They seem to light up a room when entering.

You can tell that they enjoy being in the moment and absorbing the energy and experiences they are having while simultaneously keeping their eye on the ball realizing that ‘if its going to be its up to me.’ These are the people we are attracted to because they give off such positive energy. They may see a cloud on the horizon but look past it knowing little in life is permanent and this issue, this challenge at the moment, too shall pass. They could be characterized as the ‘no excuse’ type of people. Life doesn’t just passively happen to them because they are actively engaged in the process by improving themselves and lending a hand to others along the way.

These unique individuals keep things in perspective. Rather than thinking in absolutes – all, never, everyone… they choose to see the shades of grey in others and in life by remembering that they have not walked in another’s shoes. Rather than assuming the worst in a situation they strive to look for the possibilities – the ways for improvement. They refuse to supersize a problem and handle the typical ups and downs in life with focused effort and confidence. They choose not to merely survive but to thrive.

These type of individuals are not simply born as perpetual optimist. But have learned along the way that they have the power to change themselves and their circumstances through a combination of goal centered hard work- the purpose driven life we hear about – combined with the ability to laugh at themselves at times with playful enthusiasm. They have learned to enjoy the moments in their life that will ultimately be their legacy. When they leave this earth, they will be missed, a void felt but soon filled with a lifetime of special memories.

We all have something to give to the world. At times it may be simply a smile or positive comment that can help a fellow traveller along the way. The amazing thing is that these folks that seem to have perfected the magic combo of enthusiasm and focused effort just seem to attract more of the same in their lives. They have perfected the understanding of cause and effect – as they give so shall they receive. After all, The Universe is an ‘equal opportunity’ employer.

During the next few days check out how many people you interact with that have this dynamic duo type of thinking. Who knows, you may be one of them!

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!

What is Truth?

Self improvement is something we seem to naturally just choose to do while on this earth. It makes us who we are- always planning and striving-to use the skills we were given by the Universe to become a better person. A big part of self improvement is dealing with truth. This truth is both about others as well as ourselves.

In the movie, “Something’s Gotta Give,” Harry says to Erica, ” I’ve always told you some version of the truth.” She responds, “The truth doesn’t have versions!”

Wow! That statement burned into my brain. The truth doesn’t have versions. It is either truth or not. What are you telling yourself about others or yourself that is only a partial truth? We all do it from time to time. As we become wiser we realize that truth is the most important thing you can give yourself and others. I don’t know another persons’ truth because I have not walked a mile, or even a step, in their shoes. Sometimes we think by not speaking our truth and masking our true feelings, everyone may be better off in the long run. Not so! You may have to mentally rehearse how to say something so that it is not hurtful – that’s a good skill to work on – but to avoid saying the truth hurts everyone eventually. This magnificent world that we are a part of inhales peace and exhales tension when truth is spoken.

Truth comes back to your own self worth. Do you believe in yourself enough to speak the truth about a situation? If you find yourself falling into the trap of comparing yourself with others, remember the issue of truth. Comparison is a violence against yourself. There will always be someone better or worse off than you. That is the path they have chosen for this lifetime. It is not ours to question. We all have our own unique journey. Your truth is your journey. The privilege of our lifetime is to live our lives in truth, to be our highest self and make the world a little better off by doing it.

So tomorrow when you start the day, remember the issue of truth. I believe truth is, simply and completely, an essential part of the Universe. I choose truth and love from this point on, how about you?

Have a great few days!