Posts tagged ‘Thoughts’

April 26, 2012

Right Mind-ed-ness

Our left hemisphere is all about the past and the future and serves as the voice inside of our head. Our right hemisphere is all about the NOW and overall perception of being. 

One strategy of “getting into our right minds” is meditation. Meditation is the practice of detaching from one’s thoughts. Many people think that to engage in meditative practice, you have to absolutely free of conscious thoughts. In “Meditation in a New York Minute”,  Mark Thornton reviews many types of meditative practice. The one teaching that was the most valuable for me is that the initial focus of meditation is to detach from your thoughts. When meditating, you can still have your internal dialogue, but the goal is to detach and observe your thoughts as if they are just words floating by. In short, we breathe deeply and try to get in our right hemisphere.

If you are a recovering cynic such as myself, the mere mention of meditation may trigger a belief system that resists this concept. This resistant vision may include pictures of hippies with headbands across their long hair sitting on a grass field making daisy chains while chanting Ohmmm. At least, that was my internal response about six years ago.

Today, I look at meditation pragmatically. I have studied the effects of meditation on myself. The results of my “single-subject research design” (with very loose qualitative data) is that when I have the habit of meditating for at least five minutes per day, I am better able to detach from my thoughts. I also noticed that once I started to observe my thoughts objectively, I was better able to control my thoughts and to change my thought patterns.

In summary, Meditation allows up to observe and evaluate our thoughts and to increase awareness that we can be separate from our stream of thoughts.

Now meditation is good for the 20% of conscious thought that we can control. What do we do about the other 80% of unconscious thoughts and belief systems?

The short answer is….Work on it! On great way to work is through positive affirmations.

Again, six years ago my cynical self groaned a “good grief” every time I heard about positive affirmations. My belief system at that time was that positive affirmations are good for those “new age folks”. I had the comedic image of Al Frankin’s Stewart Smally  –

Affirmation helps re-shape our unconscious beliefs. The more we think and affirm our new belief and the more feeling that we attach to this belief, the more this new belief will become a part of our subconscious belief system. Positive affirmations can help improve our self-concept and self-confidence. Ironically, earlier this morning I was listening to a great podcast on self-confidence on “Life Habits”. http://lifehabits.net/2009/04/24/lh32-self-confidence/

In short, meditation and positive affirmations can be effective strateiges in re-shaping our thoughts and beliefs.

Happy thinking!

April 20, 2012

Get Back on The Horse!

On Day 18 of the “Habit Change Challenge”, life got in the way. I decided to stay up late playing “Ping Pong” with a couple of friends. When I got home, my youngest child kept me awake the remainder of the night and early morning since he had difficulty sleeping. I chose to sleep next to him so he would feel more comfortable and sleep better. Since I did not get much sleep, most of the night, I decided to sleep in to 7 AM. Therefore, I did not exercise or meditate in the morning. In the evening, my wife and I had a birthday party to go to after work. When we got home, I feel asleep with my youngest when I put him to sleep. So, I on this day I strayed from the habits of logging my gratitude, successes, meditating and exercising.

I almost made it! I hope that if you took up this challenge that you are still going. If this is a competition, I hope that you beat me.

I am not a victim of certain circumstances. I made decisions about life priorities that allowed my new habits to fall into the background. I chose to spend time with people that I do not see as much and I had a lot of fun doing so. I had a great time playing games with my friends and going to an adult birthday party without my kids. I choose to prioritize sleep over my target habits. The sleep that I got felt good! I do not feel badly about the choices that I made these last few days.

I am “jumping back on the horse”. I am not giving up on my new habits. I am starting over with the resolve of going another 21 days of being consistent exercising, meditating, listening or reading affirmations and logging my successes & gratitude. I have made progress and I choose to reflect on my “setback” as “feedback” instead of “failure”.

From this setback, I had a few thoughts about “falling off the horse”:

  • 1)   Get back on the habit as soon as possible!
  • 2)   Look at the larger goal of what you want to change
  • 3)   View the break of habit as a “blip on the screen” and start over
  • 4)   Commit to the new habit “one day at a time”
  • 5)   Avoid letting the exception become the rule! If you break a rule once, do not think that it is OK to do it again since you are already “off track”.
  • 6)   Focus on how awesome it feels to keep moving forward towards you goals instead of any possible shame of making a “mistake”
  • 7)   Analyze what happened that lead to you getting off track and use that feedback to get back on track
  • 8)   Forgive yourself!

Remember, the ultimate goal is to appreciate all the good that is a part of your life and make choices that bring more opportunities to appreciate what you have. Have fun with your own adventure!

-Andrew

 

April 7, 2012

Law of At(r)Action

Since the release of the movie “The Secret”, there has been considerable attention given to “The Law of Attraction“. Wikipedia describes “The law of Attraction”a metaphysical belief that “like attracts like“, that positive and negative thinking bring about positive and negative physical results, respectively. Although I believe that there is value to the concept of “The Law of Attraction”, I feel that many people may not achieve all that they desire since they may feel that all they need to do is sit in their home and imagine their desired future without taking an action. I feel that you will get more results from using “The Law of Attraction” if you look at is as “The Law of At Action”. You can only build “the life of your dreams” if you take consistent action in acquiring your goal. “The Law of Attraction” works because when you thinking positively about your goals you will have more thoughts about possible action steps to attain your goal.

One essential belief of the “law of attraction” is that you can manifest your desires if you have a clear picture of what you want and you believe that it is already on it’s way. If the word “metaphysical” makes you leary of the “Law of Attraction”, you can choose to look at the “Law of Attraction” pragmatically since you can observe how the “Law of Attraction” from a cause and effect perspective.

It all starts with belief. When you belief that you are worthy of having what you want in life, you will have more positive thoughts about your possibilities and more positive feelings about your actions. With any life goal, you need to believe that you can do it. It is always important to start by reflecting on your belief system as well your specific beliefs about your personal goals.  Belief makes it all possible. If you do not believe that you can do it, you are done! You will not even try to act towards your goal. If you believe you can, you will move forward.

Thoughts and feelings are also vital in creating what you want. Your brain is programmed as the ulitimate pattern recognition device. When you thoughts include a clear image of what you want, your brain starts looking for the patterns that are consistent with the picture of what you want. Feelings are vitally important in this process since our limbic system is highly tied to our memory system and we also pay more attenion to things that we have sting feelings about.
Action are the physical steps that we need to take to accomplish any goal. Once you start taking action, you will notice that you will have different choices that you had before. After each decision and each action, you will have another set of choices that you would not have even know about if you had not taken any action towards your goals. Even if you made a choice that may seem like a “mistake”, you can use the results of this choice as feedback of where you need to proceed to attain your goal.
We can use the idea of a map to conceptualize how the “Law of Attraction” can help us. First we visualize where we want to go. Next, we believe that it is possible to get there. We then use our thoughts and feelings to keep of following the route on the map. Our Actions move us down the road. When we make a “wrong turn”, we acknowledge this feedback and look at our map to see where we are. We then take consistent action and keep moving forward to our designation.
All comments are greatly appreciated!
March 25, 2012

Appreciation versus Depreciation

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
Voltaire

Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.
Alan Cohen

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. – Frederick Keonig

 

When we consider our beliefs, there is a dichotomy of how we can choose to approach the world.  We can find value in everything around us, or we can devalue our world. In “The Secrets of the Power of Intention”, Dr. Wayne Dyer discussed this in terms of appreciation and depreciation. When we are appreciative, we find more value in all things around us. Wayne Dyer used the example of the Holocaust Survivor Victor Frankl  who was able to mentally survive living in a concentration camp by finding beauty in a fish head floating in his soup.

When we look at the world appreciatively, we are creating more value to ourselves. Since our experience is essentially governed by our perception of the world around us, the more value we find, the more value we perceive. When you adopt the strategy of appreciation you are more likely to turn a challenge into an opportunity.

It is important to note that most people are not solely appreciative or completely depreciative. It would be very difficult to imagine someone appreciating the passing of a loved one or devaluing winning $1,000,000. However, the more appreciative someone is in his or her habits, thoughts and feelings it would be easier for that person to accept the passing of a loved one by focusing on memories of the good time shared with that person and of all the things they have learned from that person. If someone is commonly depreciative, they may still adopt a pattern of daily complaining even after winning $1,000,000.

When evaluating your beliefs, consider if you beliefs are creating more value for you.

Depreciate beliefs include:

  • Belief that you are unworthy of love, affection, success or material goods
  • Belief that you are superior to others (since you are depreciating others)
  • Belief that you are inferior to others (since you are depreciating yourself)
  • Belief that you would only be worthy if you had a certain amount of social status or material goods.

Appreciate beliefs include:

  • Belief that you are worthy of love, affection, success or material goods
  • Belief that all people have value
  • Belief that you have value regardless or race, status or class
  • Belief that you can learn something from all situations

I hope that you are able to find value in each and every day!

Judgment as an evaluative process is “positive” since it is helpful for us to compare differing perspectives to make a decision or to evaluate information to make a wise decision to determine the best course of action. This sense of judgment infers using sound criteria as a part of the process. It also connotes an image of fairness and justice.

However, we people are labeled as “judgmental”, we imagine a person who uses judgment to devaluate. We devalue others when we engage in the practice of discrimination and prejudice. When we devalue others, we feel in some way superior to “the other”. The process of devaluing people can be extremely dangerous. In the extreme case of genocide, the side committing the atrocities devalued the group victimized by the genocide.

When we adopt the habit of devaluing others through judgment, we know subconsciously that other people may be “judging” us. If I am judging others, it only makes sense that someone else would be judging me. Therefore, the more judgmental we become, the more afraid we may become of being judged ourselves. It also follows that the more that we have experienced being devalued by another’s judgment, the more likely we are to feel justified in judging others.

The next time you find yourself judging a quality of another person, ask yourself if you are evaluating or devaluating this person.

I feel that this is one of the many life situations where the old saying of “do onto others as you wish others to do onto you” would apply.

March 18, 2012

Blame vs. Personal Responsibility

 “The search for someone to blame is always successful.” – Robert Half

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”  –Dr. Robert Anthony

“Yes, there are times when something is legitimately not our fault. Blaming others, however, keeps us in a stuck state and is ultimately rough on our own self-esteem.”   Eric Allenbach

Blame

1. to hold responsible; find fault with; censure:

2. to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.) (usually followed by on ): I blame the accident on her.

As exemplified from the definition and the quotes above, blame is the act of holding someone else or something else responsible. Every time we blame, we avoid personal responsibility. When we blame a circumstance or other people for our failings or our current state of dissatisfaction, we hinder out ability to move forward. It is very difficult to learn from the results of our thoughts, feelings, actions and beliefs if we continually blame “God”, “Nature”, or “Them” for our current reality.

Robert Half was correct when he said, “the search for someone to blame is always successful”. It is easy to blame others. When we do we no longer feel the possible emotional discomfort associated with  owning our mistakes. If our boss is angry about the result of a current project, it feels safer to blame a co-worker. In the workplace, blame can be harmful since it can facilitate a cycle of blame – defensiveness- attack –blame cycle.

Just think how easily blame can creep into our own lives. If we are late for work, it is customary to blame the traffic or other life circumstances. How many times have you been at work when a co-worker arrived and stated; “I apologize for being late. I did not adequately plan my time so I am responsible for my tardiness. Could you please write me up so I am discouraged from continuing my pattern of poor time management?”

When we blame, we have a negative influence on others. If we model the pattern of blaming at home, our children will imitate our pattern of avoiding accountability. When we blame our spouse/partner for our own emotional responses, our spouse/partner will likely feel resentful.

Blame is a habit that we are in control of. Once we become aware of our tendencies to blame, we can move away from blame and move towards personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility arises from acknowledgement that we are in control of our beliefs, habits, thoughts, feelings, responses, words and actions. When we accept personal responsibility, we understand that we are responsible for our general life circumstances. If we are dissatisfied with how things are, personal responsibility will lead us to changing our situation whereas blame will allow us to be complacent and stick with the status quo of dissatisfaction.

I accept full responsibility for this post!

March 13, 2012

The Complaints of Others

Yes, I would like a complaint free world. As I stated yesterday, I am still working on that complaint free me. We did conclude with the realization that only we can control our own habit of complaining. The “Complaint Free World” approach of moving a wrist band from one wrist to another is a great form of personal accountability to shape our own behavior.

What about the complaints of others? Since we can not control other people’s habits, we can only control our own responses. It is helpful to remember that we have different options when other people complain so we don’t fall into the socially accepted pattern of complaining ourselves.

The first thing that we should consider when a friend or colleague starts to complain to us is that person’s possible motivation to complain. Do they want to complain for the sake of complaining? Are they complaining because they are in a challenging situation and are seeking emotional validation? Are they complaining about a situation in the hopes that someone has a possible solution? The second thing we should consider is how close the relationship is of the “complainer” to ourselves. For example, if a stranger in front of us in a line starts complaining about how frustrating the wait is, we should not feel compelled to join the chorus of “this line is a pain”.

For the “constant complainer” that we know, it would be appropriate to acknowledge their concerns as well as setting boundaries.

“I hear your concern about the new procedures. I now need to finish my project before my deadline”.

For someone complaining about a life situation where they have no control and appear to desire some emotional validation, it would be appropriate to demonstrate compassion and understanding about their feelings. You are not obligated to complain yourself.

“I can understand how tough it is. I can only imagine how your are feeling right now. That seems to be a really challenging situation”.

One of my personal challenges is that I sometimes do now intuitively know the difference when someone is complaining about something just to vent and feel heard or if that person is seeking advice or assistance. For these situations it is beneficial to listen intently to the person’s concerns. When if feels appropriate, you could ask if the other person needs assistance in this matter.

I would appreciate any comments on how you choose to respond to the complaints of others.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

March 10, 2012

Personal Responsibility

The first step of getting from where you are to where you want to be is to take full responsibility for everything in your life.

Of course I am not talking about taking responsibility for earthquakes, tsunamis, fires and floods and unavoidable events. I am talking about talking full responsibility of your beliefs, thoughts, your chosen emotional responses, daily habits and actions.

For example, if you are dissatisfied about your current job, it is best to evaluate all the things that you can control.

Belief: What are your current beliefs about the job? Upon reflection, are your beliefs valid? Is your job consistent with your core beliefs and values? Do you have any limiting beliefs about your potential in your profession? Do you feel that you are worthy of something better?

Thoughts: What are your recurring thoughts about your job? Are your thoughts related to what you can accomplish in your job? Are your thoughts related to solving challenges, or are you fixated on problem admiration? Can you change your thoughts about your job? If you change your thoughts about the job, would your feelings about your job change?

Feelings: How are you choosing to feel about your job? Can you change how you feel? Does your emotional outlook affect how your co-workers respond to you? If you were in a different job, would your emotional response be different?

Actions: Do you have a long term plan to find another job? Do you need additional education? Have you researched other professions that you are interested in? Are there any actions that you can take in your current job to make the job more enjoyable or more lucrative?

When you take responsibility of where you are in life, you will take full ownership of what you can control in order to move forward towards your goals.

If you do not take responsibility, you are more likely to end up complaining or blaming people or circumstances for where you are in life. You will most likely stay in the same place and engage in the same thoughts, feelings and habits that have lead to your current level of satisfaction. You will continually collect data to support the belief that you are a victim and that the world is out to get you. You will hold other people accountable for your thoughts feelings and actions.

Believe that you are worthy of having the life that you desire. Choose to focus on thoughts that lead to problem solving and creating value to others. Realize that you are in control of the majority of your emotional responses and that your emotional responses have a great influence on those around you. Take the action that is needed for you to create the life our your dreams!

February 6, 2012

Love is the answer, no really it is… and giving helps too.

“The love that we give away is the only love we keep” – Elbert Hubbard

Yes, I know that the title of this blog may sound trite, cliché or overused, especially to a recovering cynic (like myself) or if you are a die-hard pragmatist.

But it is true.

If you want more health and happiness in your life, you need love.

Think about it.

You cannot be happy without love. You cannot be completely healthy unless you are happy.

I believe most of us know what it is liked to beloved by another person. It is awesome! We feel safe, warm, appreciated and confident. In literature, song lyrics and popular culture, there is strong evidence that humans want to be loved.

I feel that the ironic twist of the fascination with being loved is that it misses the true origin of love. Love is a creative force. Love is giving unconditionally to others. Love is striving to create a better life for the people that we love. Love is the desire for others to have a sense of wellbeing and contentment.

“When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.” Wayne Dyer

The giving of love is an education in itself.Eleanor Roosevelt

If you have any doubt on the importance of love and giving, just think about times that you have striving to receive something (time, attention, affection, acknowledgement, etc.) from another person. In these times, you may be dependent on that other person for your feelings of wellbeing. You may feel impatient or slightly dissatisfied. You have thoughts to the effect of “if only they….”

On the other hand, if you focus is what you can give to another person, your focus is on the other person and your aspiration that they feel loved or supported. From you loving actions, you may feel loving, kind or generous.

As an adult, my concrete example of this is the Christmas gift exchanged. I am always appreciative of the generosity that I receive from others, but I experience more joy when my children open their presents and jump up and down with joy.

Control: We can only control how loving we are. We cannot control if others love us or not. In fact, the more that we try to make others love us, the more resistant they may be to our intentions.

 

Influence:  The more loving you are, the greater positive influence you will have on others around you. If you don’t believe me, try going to the supermarket with a positive loving attitude and say hello and thank you often. I am almost sure that you will make at least one person smile. As Ghandi said “Be the change that you want to see in the world”, he challenged us all to “bring it”. If you want a more loving world, bring more love to the world.

 

The Pragmatist Explanation:  Love is just cause and effect. Love is a creative force that gives. When you give you create value for others. When you create value for others, there is a greater chance that someone would want to give back to you.

 

The New Age Explanation:  When you are loving, you vibrate at a higher frequency and the universe aligns to that higher frequency.

Whichever explanation to the importance to love that you want to choose, so be it.

If you are an incurable pessimist, I can report that I did my best to get the word out.

 

February 2, 2012

Summary of Main Points

 

In this blog, we have reviewed some Psychological concepts important to the discussion of what we can personally control and what factors we can only influence.

 

In “The First Step” we discussed that you will experience more success in attaining your live goals if you take full responsibility for where you are in your life. This concept is supported by research in Intrinsic Locus of Control that people who feel that the have the ability to control their lives tend to be happier.

 

When discussing locus of control, we also stated that there are some elements of life that we cannot control such as the economy or weather and for these factors we should adopt an external locus of control. Although there are elements of life that we cannot control, we are in control on how we choose to respond to these situations. In the blog post E+R=O we discussed that our chosen response to a given situation has a direct impact on the overall outcome.

 

If “The First Step” is accepting full responsibility for your life, the second step should be “Find your Passion”. The research suggests that for situations that require problem solving and creativity, people do better when they are intrinsically motivated.

 

If we have identified some life goals that are challenging for us, we may benefit from extrinsic rewards to help get us motivated.

 

Once we have reflected on our passions and considered what activities help us “go with the flow”, it is beneficial to reflect on our belief systems. In the blog post “Icebergs Ahead” we discussed that many of our beliefs are unconscious, yet still have a significant impact on our internal dialogue. In “Identity” we discussed that what we typically think of as ourselves is the voice in our head. Once we realize that a “me is a story I tell myself”, we can start to evaluate which recurring thoughts are serving us and which thoughts bring us down. In Judgment – Part 2 we discussed that there is a difference between the processes of evaluation (“does this serve my interests”) versus devaluation (finding something or someone to be “inferior” to us). In reviewing our beliefs, it is valuable to evaluate if a belief serves us and to “root out” beliefs that devalue our selves or the humanity of others.  Similarly, in “Appreciation” we discussed that it is helpful to review our beliefs to see if we are appreciating the world around us as well as our own value.

 

In future blogs, we will be exploring emotions in more depth and considerations for turning around our emotional perspective.

 

For the topic of actions, we reviewed how to set goals.

 

In future blogs, we will explore some pragmatic action plans in the areas of weight loss as well as finances.

 

So far, this blog has been posted daily. To ensure quality of writing and to tackle topics in greater detail, I have decided to start posting weekly. If you prefer the daily posts please let me know.

 

If you have any feedback about the content so far, please feel free to contact me at otbikesurf@yahoo.com

 

Thank you for your time and attention!

 

Andrew Gilbert