Open to Everything

I have been enjoying studying the concept as taught by Dr. Wayne Dyer, “Have a mind open to everything and attached to nothing.” I would like to just discuss in today’s post the merit of having a mind open to everything.

I once heard Howard Berg proclaim that the greatest obstacle to learning is skepticism. He encouraged learners to proceed as if everything they were studying were true. If you don’t have an open mind, you prevent yourself from planting seeds that could take root. You’ve got to give the topic a fair chance to incubate and generate.

I have to remind myself of this principle daily as I become entrenched in my way of doing things. My knee-jerk response has been for years to look for the holes in an argument or try to find out why something won’t work, especially when that idea conflicts with personal experience. I was on a conference call today with a software firm who does Amazon analytics and they were trying to sell me on their services. I had to keep telling myself to pretend like what they are saying is true because I felt highly critical. Just the practice of having an open mind was good for me as it led me to ask questions I would not have asked had I already closed my mind. I’ve committed to investigating the tools and services further and I’m going to proceed as if it’s a great solution. When the time comes to make a decision, I will have gathered the facts I need to proceed.

Tomorrow, I’m joining a new group of people for a special retreat. I’ve been looking forward to it for several weeks. In the past, I’ve formed opinions quickly, lately, I’ve been less quick to jump to any conclusions. I find myself enjoying the moment, people and all. Open to everything, closed to nothing at all.

Instrument of Peace

I’ve been thinking a lot about the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. It begins with Lord make me an instrument of your peace.

Last night I was not an instrument of peace. I allowed someone to elicit from me a less than harmonious response. I want to be the kind of person that doesn’t allow others, or circumstances, to disturb my peace. I want my outer body to be an impenetrable armor to my spirit–for my spirit is where my peace resides.

I’m reflecting now on what it was that caused me to lose my peace as the person who I allowed to steal my peace is someone I love very much and I’m intent to learn from the experience so that in the future I respond differently.

When I try to get to the bottom of the problem it seems that it was all a misunderstanding. There were, in fact, a series of misunderstandings:

  1. original desires
  2. division of labors
  3. financial interests

I’m realizing right now that when you boil down any altercation what remains is simply a misunderstanding. Communication is so crucial. And if, after your altercation, you don’t identify the misunderstanding, you will have “missed” understanding each other, and you will have missed the opportunity to lay a foundation of correct “understanding.” Interesting how similar the meanings of “foundation” and “understanding.” Solid foundations allow us to build sturdy buildings. Correct understandings help us build solid relationships. Both supply something solid to build or stand upon.

What I learned from last night:

  1. My antagonist and I need to come to an understanding about our desires moving forward.
  2. My antagonist and I need to come to an understanding about our division of labors.
  3. My antagonist and I need to come to an understanding about our financial interests.

Something I learned about myself last night is that while I am getting better at communicating my feelings (I have a tendency to keep what I’m feeling inside for I hate conflict and confrontation), I still need to work on communicating what I’m feeling dispassionately. Essentially, when I’m feeling frustrated and upset, I would like to convey those feelings in a neutral manner. I do believe it is possible to communicate my frustration without becoming frustrated. Last night, however, was not one of those moments. So I will do better next time because I want to be an instrument of peace. I cannot allow others to disrupt my peace. I could have listend to the other person’s concerns without judging their concerns as complaints and personal attacks. I could have realized that what that person was saying revealed more about them than it did about me. I could have chosen not to take it personally. Had I had the insight I now possess, I could have looked for the underlying misunderstanding(s) so we could correct our foundation and build something solid to stand upon. I would not have “missed’ understanding each other.

I’m also reminding myself to look within for I’m finding it easy to identify all the things “wrong” with the other person, but remembering that others are our greatest teachers, and applying the principle of the light of vexation, I’m humbled by the remaining self work I have to do.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

No Problems

I’ve been reading a really good book called There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem. Dr. Dyer believes that there are no problems, just problematic thinking. We can overcome any problem by simply changing the way we think.

Dr. Dyer believes that the moment we succumb to worry, fear, anxiety, stress, etc. we cut ourselves off from our higher source. God is love, peace, and joy. Anytime we are feeling anything less than this, means we are out of touch with spirit. The key to finding solutions and eliminating problems lies in staying connected to God. No God= No good.

The moment you recognize a negative thought, change it. We get what we want. Conversely, we get what we don’t want. So the key is to focus your thoughts on what it is you want to have happen and don’t waste any precious energy on that which you don’t want to happen.

Case in point, today I caught an Uber ride to the airport. We were already cutting it close as our meeting went long. My flight was scheduled to leave Tampa at 6:45 pm. We left for the airport at 5 pm and hit rush hour. To make matters worse, the GPS took us to downtown. When we finally realized the mistake (I had a new Uber driver who had just moved to Tampa a few weeks ago so had no idea where he was going either), it was 5:45 and we still had 30 minutes to the airport. I felt a slight panic rise in my chest as I realized we had a serious problem. I was going to miss my flight. In that moment, I remembered Dr. Dyer’s teachings and instead of seeing this as a problem, I instead chose to focus on the fact that God was with me and if I needed to miss this flight I would, conversely, if I needed to make it I would. Instead of thinking, “I’m not going to make my flight,” I started thinking, “I’m going to make my flight.” I went from panic to peace in less than 10 seconds. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything would work out. I didn’t have a problem at all. What I did have was an opportunity to realize that missing my flight was no big deal. I’d get a hotel, stay another night and find another flight. I’d also probably make my flight too if I really needed too. Cuz that is how the Universe works.

I was able to enjoy the remainder of my drive with my Uber man and didn’t create any unnecessary stress for either of us. It was truly pleasant. I was really grateful for the concepts I had been studying and that I had a chance to apply them so soon after learning them. The early application has cemented the no problems perspective clearly in my quiver. And no, I don’t have a problem with that metaphor as I know exactly what it means. 🙂

Working it Out

For a long time, I have been saying “things will work; they always do.” I do believe that things will work out and that everything is always as it should be. I wonder, however, if things really do just work out or if things have a way of working out as we go to work working it out?”

I have always loved the quote:

Pray as if it all depends upon God

and go to work as if it all depends upon you.

and Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

I feel that when we are men and women of action, good things happen. Things always do work out for those who go about working it out.

 

Secure Insecurity

I was going to title today’s post insecure security but opted for secure insecurity instead.  My thoughts were stirred after reading this quote:

Only the insecure strive for security

Those who aren’t confident in their own abilities look for safeguards, guarantees, and promises. Security doesn’t come from positions, possessions, and professions. No, nothing external can give us security because we everything outside of us lies outside our control. If we can’t control it, it can easily change, and where is the security in not knowing what the future will bring?

And therein lies the paradox. How can one properly prepare for a future he cannot predict? We can’t. But we can learn to not fear change. We can learn to trust in ourselves and our abilities to adequately adapt to change. We can strengthen our tolerance for insecurity, and we can learn to cultivate the only type of security worth striving for–internal security. Internal security is knowing that you can handle any situation that comes your way. This is truly the only real security for your job may end, your health may fail, your house may burn down, your spouse may die, aliens may swoop down on you and transport you to a brand new planet. Everything you own and have known will be left behind. How well will you survive on your new planet? Will you thrive, or will you shrivel up and die bereft of all your external securities? If you are internally secure with external insecurities, you will be a-okay.

Here’s a poem by James Kavanaugh I thoroughly enjoyed:

Someday I’ll walk away

And be free

And leave the sterile ones

Their secure sterility.

I’ll leave without a forwarding address

And walk across some barren wilderness

To drop the world there.

Then wander free of care

Like an unemployed Atlas.

Just imagine what the world would be like today if everyone stayed secure. Would Columbus have sailed the ocean blue? Would Washington have left Mt. Vernon to lead rag-tag troops? Would Susan B. Anthony, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. have led their revolutions?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by. . .

Do you dare to be securely insecure? I agree with Sir Albert Einstein:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the myserious.

Do you dare to take the road less traveled by? Can you be securely insecure? Learning to embrace change, no learning to seek change, makes all the difference for once we stop changing we stop growing and that which isn’t growing is dying. Live, learn, and grow.

Worry is a Waste

Worry is a waste! Seriously, any time we worry we waste our precious present thinking about things that may never happen. I was reading today some suggestions from Dr. Dyer about how you can eliminate worry from your life. Here are a few strategies I want to teach my children and be sure to remember:

  • View your present moments as time to live rather than time to obsess about the future. When you catch yourself worrying ask, “What am I avoiding now by using up this moment with worry?” Then begin to attack whatever it is you are avoiding. The best antidote to worry is action.
  • Recognize the futility of worry. Ask yourself, “Is there anything that will ever change as a result of my worrying about it?”
  • Give yourself shorter and shorter amounts of “worry time” each day. Designate 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon. Use these periods to fret about every potential disaster you can get into the time slot. Then, using your ability to control your thoughts, postpone any worry thoughts till your next designated “worry session.” You’ll quickly discover the folly of using any time in this wasteful fashion, and will eventually eliminate your worry zone completely.
  • Make a worry list of everything you worried about yesterday, last week, and even last year. See if any of your worry did anything productive for you. Assess also, how many of the things you worried about materialized. You’ll see that worry is a doubly wasteful indulgence. It does nothing to alter the future. And the projected catastrophe turns out to be minor, or even a blessing when it arrives.
  • Just Worry! See if worry is something you can demonstrate the next time you are tempted to worry. Seriously, turn to someone else and say, “Watch me, I’m about to worry about X.” They’ll be confounded since you probably won’t even know how to demonstrate the thing you do so well.
  • Ask yourself this worry eradicating question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen to me? or them? And what’s the likelihood that it will happen? You’ll quickly discover the absurdity of worry.

I learned many years ago that worry is a waste. I never was able to effectively change an outcome by worrying about it. I learned that everything has a way of working out and the best thing I can do to affect outcomes is to keep working. This is saying–in other words–what Wayne was saying, “the best antidote to worry is action.”

These days I’m much too busy to worry. I’m also too action-oriented. This doesn’t mean worrisome thoughts never arise. They do, and I simply choose to let them glide on by. I don’t attach to them, and I remain detached from outcomes. I realize that everything is always as it should be and that the Universe will provide and God will supply.  It has always been so and I have no reason to worry it will ever not be so. I’m committed to live in–and enjoy–the precious present by not worrying about the past or the future. I hope to model this pertinent life skill to others too.

Real Change

How can we best effect real change in others? The book I’m reading suggests that the best way to encourage a change is to praise character, not behavior. For example, asking someone not to cheat is not nearly as effective as asking someone not to be a cheater. Additionally, telling someone not to be a drunk driver is more impactful than “Don’t drink and drive.” When we couch our statements in ways that personally identify others, it’s impactful.

Children are more likely to help if we ask them to be helpers versus just asking them to help. When they are done helping, thanking them for helping is not nearly as powerful as thanking them for being helpers.

I like this idea. I’m going to make a concerted effort to praise character and not behavior. No, I’m going to take this advice one step further and I’m going to praise both. I’ll say things like, “Please don’t be a cheater by not being honest and cheating on your test.” or “Don’t be a drunk driver because if you drink and drive you might hurt someone else.”

Whoa, that reminds me of a second good point the author of the book made about this phenomenon of focusing on character over behavior. It is also more powerful to point out how someone’s actions, or lack of actions, will impact others rather than on how it will impact themselves. So someone is less likely to drink and drive if they are reminded that they could harm someone else versus if they are told they could hurt themselves. Healthcare professionals are more likely to wash their hands meticulously if they are told their lack of doing so could harm the patients and not simply that not washing their hands could cause them to get sick.

So if I’m going to ask my children to stop running around the house because someone might get hurt, it will be more effective to point out that if they keep running around the front room like that they could hurt their infant brother who is on the ground. Even more impactful would be to add a statement about how responsible they are to play carefully around their baby brother, thereby protecting him from danger. That statement just praised their behavior, character, and pointed their attention to how their actions would impact others.

I wanted to blog about these concepts because I felt they were important concepts that could really help me help others make real change. Words are powerful. Learning how to use them best is my quest.

 

Self-Actualization

What does it mean to be a “Self-Actualized” person? I think I sort of know, but I really want to study it from the one who pioneered the phrase, and that means I need to read more written by Dr. Abraham Maslow. Once I’ve read his ground breaking theories, I need to study the application methodology prescribed by Dr. Albert Ellis.

Maslow believed the field of psychology–and the world of humanity–would benefit greatly by studying healthy, well-adjusted people over the mal-adjusted, mentally ill.

Both Maslow and Ellis believed that we could free ourselves from irrational beliefs and attain happiness by simply changing the way we view the world. I am going to secure a copy of A Guide to Rational Living by Ellis, and Toward a Psychology of Being by Maslow. I’m sure I read most of these works back in my teacher training days, but I want to revisit them again now.  Self-Actualization is key for me!

Uniquely You

I love Dr. Dyer and tonight as I was reading a poem he analyzed by Ogden Nash called Comparison, I felt inspired to write a bit about the beauty of being uniquely you.

There is no “one way” to do things. We need to allow others to do things their way and we should do things our way. Life would be so boring if we all marched to the beat of the same drum. Our differences are what make life colorful and exciting. If we were all the same we would learn so little.

We should stop comparing our lives and instead start composing our lives. Each of us is a genius–just in different ways. I was reminded of this truth today as we took my two nephews–who are autistic–and our dear friend–who has down syndrome–to the dinosaur park in Ogden. I watched how they and my children each played on the playground in their own unique way.

There is no right or wrong way to go down a slide. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy a dinosaur exhibit. Okay, maybe there are cultural norms you should follow such as don’t slide down the slide head first,  but that doesn’t mean the kid who slides down the slide head first is doing it wrong. Sliding down the slide head first just falls outside societal norms, and on some playgrounds, violates safety rules.  Likewise, in the museum, one of my nephews found the elevator the coolest attraction. While most of the children were enjoying the robotic dinosaurs, he was enjoying multiple rides in the elevator. Which is right? Which is wrong? Elevators, IMO, are just as fascinating to me as extinct dinosaurs!

In the car, as we were driving home, I watched as my down syndrome friend shared her iPad with my nephews. I was blown away by her generosity. I watched as the boys took turns playing the game and I saw their talent for caring and sharing. I thought back to the moments we had spent in the dinosaur dig when I watched all three playing contently for an hour when the rest of the kids were done after only 10 minutes. It made me think lovingly of my business partner who now seems to enjoy the simplest things such as visiting with friends, hugging loved ones, and reminiscing about memories. Comparing his current life to that of his old wouldn’t really do much good, but accepting and embracing his new situation for the unique experience it now is, is simply genius! Being in the present moment, free from comparison, completely comfortable being uniquely you, is what truly brings peace, happiness, and joy.

Originality

I’m reading a book by Adam Grant called Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

It’s good and insightful. What I’ve learned so far:

  • Entrepreneurs don’t love risk any more than anyone else. In fact, they are just as risk averse as the general population. Most successful creatives, originals, and entrepreneurs keep their day job while they build up the momentum and solidarity of their side job before taking the leap. Basically, they prefer–and are good–at mitigating risk. They aren’t, contrary to popular myth, risk-takers.
  • Your best bet at doing something original and spectacular is to create LOTS of work. Not all of Edison’s inventions were successes. Only a few of Newton’s laws changed the world, and not all songs from artists are hits. Quantity enhances quality. Do your best work consistently and you are likely to have something stick or take off in a big way.
  • Intuition should only be relied on when you have expertise in an area. For example, if you aren’t a luxury handbag buyer or own a couple yourself, then when handed a sampling of new luxury handbags and given only a few short seconds to assess their quality, your intuition will not serve you well because you have no gut instincts on the matter. This explains why Steve Jobs could be so wrong on his predicted success of the segway. His expertise was computers, software, and hardware, not alternative modes of transportation.
  • Don’t simply trust trials. You run the risk of false positives and false negatives. The Seinfeld samplings is the perfect story to illustrate this truth. Seinfeld is the most popular and successful sitcom ever produced. Interestingly enough, the audiences that tested its launch didn’t like it. It was an abysmal failure. Network executives said it was a show about nothing and the main character had no appeal. They all believed it would fail and it did fail every trial test. When a regularly scheduled show got canceled, network execs plugged the now empty spot with the 6 episodes of Seinfeld and it was a hit. WHAT? Same thing happened with WarbyParker.com. Everyone tested, sampled, and interviewed thought the concept of buying eyeglasses online would never fly. WRONG. Warby Parker is a billion dollar company and growing.
  • As we gain more experience and expertise we must beware of pride and hubris. We can start to think we know it all. We must continue to seek input from colleagues and others as they have excellent insights.
  • Don’t mistake passion for enthusiasm. Extroverts are often rated as more passionate simply because they are more polished in the speaking and presentation. Just not the case. Passion has more to deal with vision, dedication, and purpose than expression.
  • Always keep learning and innovating. Originals do nothing less.
  • Oh speak more than one language and play an instrument. You’re statistically more likely to be successful 😉

I’m loving this book and find so much applicable to my vocation. I feel like I’m pretty hip when it comes to Originality and that my team and I are already doing much of what he discusses, but I’m taking note of things we can do even better. I can’t wait to his other works.