This is the 11th Anniversary of my blog (originally referred to as “my column”) and it has been a joyous learning experience. Writing it is one of the few things in life I’ve done consistently, other than breathing in and out!
Initially, my focus was on continuing the teaching covered in my workshops, seminars and speeches—how to apply the Law of Attraction to improve the experience of work. Over the years it has evolved and I find myself wrestling with the obligation to deliver what you originally signed up for and my strong desire to write more about life in its totality.
Since I have taken a sabbatical from work to focus on taking care of my partner Bill on his journey with pancreatic cancer, I am also taking a sabbatical from writing about work. Instead, I will completely shift my blogging to the personal and begin to share with you how I am using the Law of Attraction to maintain my equilibrium in one of life’s most challenging situations—the grave and potentially terminal illness of a loved one.
What will that mean, specifically? It means I will write less about life’s practicalities and more about its poignancy. I will share with you the movies Bill and I watch that keep us hopeful and upbeat. I will introduce you to my heroes—people facing enormous challenges and overcoming them with dignity, grace and lots of humor. In addition to the above, I will provide listings of upbeat music, TV shows, videos, podcasts, news articles, quotes, lectures, jokes and books for you to enjoy. And I hope you will share your favorites with me so I can pass them along.
Every day, as Bill and I travel this path, I deepen my understanding that “one day at a time” is not just a homily to needlepoint on to a pillow but a profound way to live. Do I manage it all the time? Absolutely not. There are days when deep sadness is my constant companion. I will share those experiences with you, as well, along with what I do to try and stay in the present. My crystal ball is broken and always has been. I sometimes forget that but am fortunate that messengers along the way remind me. Many of you have been those messengers.
If you want to continue to travel this path with me, there is nothing to do. You will remain on my distribution list and I will continue to communicate with you as I have in the past and in some new and fun ways as we progress (video blogs, for example). And you have my full permission to apply any of what you learn to your work situation!
If you would rather opt out, instructions for doing so are at the bottom of this email. I am glad we traveled this far together and wish you well. Feel free to check in at any time at my website: www.SilverSpeaks.com.
This week I want to draw your attention to a video by Louie Schwartzberg that joyously moved me in more ways that I can count. It’s called Gratitude and is a little over nine minutes. It starts a little slowly but DO NOT MISS from 3:28 on. And for maximum joy watch it in full screen.
What a gift this man is to our world!
May your New Year be filled with people and events that show you the joy that life can be.
Because the Law of Attraction says, “You get more of what you focus on,” a critically important component of Passionate Self Care is focus. If you want to train yourself to recognize where your focus is, start by listening to conversations around you. What is the focus of each? Now look at the people holding those conversations. Are they a match to what they’re focused on?
Never is this so clear as when you listen to the elderly. Those who are having lengthy conversations about their aches and pains and pills and surgeries are the ones who are in the worst shape.
The ones who are talking about their gardens, pets, hobbies or grandchildren are vibrant and healthy. They may have aches and pains but they don’t dwell on them. Because of that, their aches and pains are manageable.
Sullen teens are obsessed with how unfair life is and how ridiculous adults and their rules are. Well-adjusted teens are focused on sports, music, school, or sharing cool new trends with each other.
What are you and your friends focused on? Start listening to your words – those that come out of your mouth or those you type into email messages and texts. Will the recipient of your words be happy to hear from you or inwardly groan?
We all agree that we don’t like to be around negative people but many of us who express that sentiment ARE the negative ones people don’t like to be around. And we don’t even know it. How can that be? How is it that we can be primarily focused on the negative and unaware of it? It’s because it’s become a socially accepted habit.
The news media consistently focuses on the worst events. When we broadcast our own personal news, we seem somehow embarrassed to share what’s going well in our lives. Doctors are trained to look for what’s wrong versus ways for us to stay healthy. Managers, until recently, have been trained to focus on employees’ weaknesses instead of their strengths.
There’s a new trend in management I would like you to steal for your Passionate Self Care. It’s called Appreciative Inquiry. An example of how it’s being applied will help clarify what it is:
The traditional style of conducting an employee’s performance review consists of 10-15 minutes focus on what an employee does well (employees refer to this as “buttering us up for the kill”), with the balance of the meeting focused on everything the employee needs to improve. In other words, the manager mainly focuses on what’s NOT working versus what IS.
A manager who practices Appreciative Inquiry would flip the time. She would spend 10-15 minutes focused on what an employee needs to improve and the rest of the meeting on everything the employee does well and how to leverage those skills. This manager focuses on what IS working instead of what’s NOT.
When I talk about this in my workshops, people get very excited, “Yes, that’s what my supervisor needs to do.” They stop in their tracks when I tell them it works both ways. “What do you mean?” they ask.
If you want your supervisor to focus on what you’re doing well, you must also focus on what you are doing well. You can’t expect to attract a supervisor (or a mate, friend, or child for that matter) who focuses on your good qualities if you are continually focused on your failings. Remember, you get what you focus on. That includes getting people in your life who agree with your self-assessment.
Appreciative Inquiry is the daily practice of looking for what you like about a person, place or thing (and that includes you). As you begin to focus on what you appreciate, you’ll begin to attract more of that into your life.
Appreciation is a feeling that can only attract good things to you. As you begin this practice of appreciating your friends, your community, your house, your children, your health, your family, and on and on and on, you will begin to feel more energetic and more vibrant. The Law of Attraction says it can be no other way.
I can’t think of anything more important to Passionate Self Care than using Appreciative Inquiry in all that you do. Try it. You’ll see.
In my July 28th blog, I asked readers to send me answers to the following question: “What could I do instead of worrying? What might be some behaviors that would be more useful?”
I want to share with you a response from Missouri reader Joy Gilzow that touched my heart at a very deep level:
Instead of worrying, we pray and trust God…and plan celebrations. I was 20 weeks into my pregnancy and learned that my son was going to be born with half a heart. After his birth there would be a series of risky surgeries, 3 in all, at different stages of his young life. Of course we were devastated. At that moment I didn’t know, do we even plan a nursery? I cried all the way home and threw myself down on the bed and sobbed out to God. My son started kicking the stuffing out of me, as if to say, “I’m here! Don’t count me out!” I picked myself up and dried my tears. The next day I sent out a blue-background email, announcing that we were having a boy. It also explained his condition, asking people to please pray and telling them how blessed we were to have them in our lives. I spent the rest of that day shopping for my baby boy.
That was over three years ago.
Tomorrow night, in honor of having all three surgeries finally behind us, we are celebrating the milestone by going to an “Imagination Movers” concert. We’re getting to meet them backstage before the show. We haven’t told Blaze, who turned 3 on the 17th of July, that he gets to meet them; we’re going to let that part be a surprise.
Blaze is a happy, affectionate, mischievous little boy. He’s on the small side for his age, but he’s mighty, and expected to have a full, healthy life. He’s been growing like a weed since his final open-heart surgery last month. He gets to start daycare/preschool the end of August. No one looking at him realizes anything is “wrong.”
It hasn’t been easy, but it was totally worth it. Worrying would have defeated us. We celebrate and offer thanks. God is so good and answered the prayers that were raised up to Him. I am so grateful.
My favorite part of Joy’s story is when the yet-to-be-born Blaze started “kicking the stuffing” out of her. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
The best tip from Joy is “plan celebrations;” there are few better ways to Change Your Focus; Change Your Life. When you celebrate, you are putting your full attention on what you want. The more you celebrate, the more the things you want come your way. Blaze was born into celebration and look at all he’s accomplished in his short life? (How many three year-olds do YOU know that got to see the Imagination Movers, let alone meet them backstage? That, my friends, is the power of focus.)
All the happiness research coming out of such esteemed institutions as Harvard and University of Pennsylvania point to the fact that what actually makes us happy is significantly different than what we think. Additionally, what we think will destroy us rarely does. Initially, Joy was devastated. That word says everything. And yet, she was able to turn that initial reaction into a response: my boy is coming and I’m getting ready for him.
At the top of researchers’ lists of what makes us happy is “service to others” and Joy’s family has been of service to little Blaze since before he was born. All good parents are, of course, but there is a much keener awareness when a child is born with challenges. The family becomes primarily focused on a singular goal – the health of their child—and the ordinary problems that bug the rest of us fade into the background for them.
So the next time you are wasting time worrying about what might happen or is going to happen or DID happen, I want you to remember that big smile on Blaze’s face and ask yourself, “When I get to the other side of this, how will I celebrate?”
Many thanks to Joy for sharing this wonderful story. Please give Blaze a high-five from all of us. The Imagination Movers were lucky they got to meet him.
The way we carry ourselves, the position of our bodies has an amazing impact on how we feel and yet, how much attention do we pay to this?
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately as I watch how people walk. Yes, you read that correctly—how people walk. Some walk with arrogance; some walk with great self-confidence; and some walk as if they’re hoping no one will notice them.
For example, I am writing this column in my favorite coffee shop and I just watched a woman walk across the room with shoulders slumped and her posture folded in; she carried her body as if completely disconnected from it. When she sat down, I took a closer look and noticed that her hair, make-up and clothing were perfect. My guess is that she stands in front of her mirror in the morning thinking she looks great. And she does, if she were to simply hold that pose all day long. However, if she saw herself on film as she walks, she would realize that all the time spent on trying to look good is wasted. Her body delivers the message—to her and to the rest of the world—that she lacks self-confidence. All the outer fixings in the universe cannot change that.
Why is this important? Because your physiology delivers to your brain distinct messages about how you are feeling in the moment. If your fists or jaw are clenched, your brain interprets that as extreme duress. If you are smiling, your brain’s interpretation is that you are happy. And even if you’re dressed in rags, when you hold yourself in a pose of self-confidence, the feelings follow.
Here is the magic of physiology: your brain does not know the difference between pretend and reality—all it knows is where you are focused. This is why books, music, movies and where we place our attention have such a profound impact. Have you ever been in a perfectly good mood, gone to a sad movie and walked out feeling blue? If there were a camera on you as you watched the film you would see your physiology change in response to the story. The quickest way to recover from this is to change your physiology. It turns out that “shake it off” is sage advice.
If you were crazy enough to allow it, I could teach you how to put yourself into a state of depression. All you need to do is slump your shoulders, collapse your core so it’s mushy, cast your eyes down, frown and breathe very shallow. Within minutes, I guarantee you will feel down. If you do it for a long period of time, you will be depressed.
On the flip side, if you are already feeling down, you can pull out of it by doing the opposite: sit or stand up straight, pull your stomach muscles tight, look out at the world, grin from ear to ear and breathe very deeply. Within minutes you would feel your mood lift. Imagine how great you’d feel if you did that for a long period of time.
We are in the midst of the holidays, a time when using the magical power of physiology can mean the difference between a season that reminds you how wonderful the holidays can be or the kind you cannot wait to be over and done with.
Here are some physiological “tricks” that will quickly elevate your mood:
• Smile. If you really want to go for it, grin from ear-to-ear.
• Sing. There’s holiday music playing everywhere. When you sing along, your brain gets the message you are in a good mood.
• Laugh. This is a quick way to go from feeling stressed to feeling blessed.
• Extend the hand of friendship. Doing for others is guaranteed to elevate your mood.
• Dance. You can’t dance without music and when your brain hears music with a dance beat, it makes you—well, want to dance!
• Hang out with happy children. Kids have their priorities straight—it’s all about what makes them happy.
The Law of Attraction says that you get more of what you focus on. When you “act as if” you immediately shift your brain’s focus. Ask yourself how you want to feel, adjust your body accordingly and watch how quickly you feel the way you want.
That’s the magical power of physiology!