Monday, November 8, 2010

Body Combat - Physical power, elegance and inspiration.

A core aspect of success is self discipline and often this particular personal characteristic is most obvious (either in its absence or in its presence) in the area of taking care of our physical well being.  And a key area of physical well being is........ yes you got it EXERCISE!  Not everyone's favorite "thing" and yet for others a pure addiction.  It is one area where dedication is obvious and the results often apparent - thus from this aspect it could be considered the easiest area of life to have self-discipline.  For others though, it's the toughest.

In my younger years I was incredibly active horse riding, dancing at least 7 times a week, swimming all day every weekend in the summer, generally giving everything a go.  As an adult I had allowed myself several years off any sort of organized exercise regime (I felt chasing 3 children under 5 and breaking in a brumby, combined with horse riding, gardening and taking care of a menagerie of other animals probably had me covered).  But something recently drove me back to a more organized form of exercise.  I'd found that I wanted more physical energy (needed it to keep up with the kids) and felt resuming the discipline might help to keep me on track.

So I joined my local gym and am LOVING IT!  Don't love all the classes and frankly for me, pumping iron or riding a bike to music hold very little appeal, if I want to ride my bike, the fresh air with my baby on the back seems like a much better option but, as expected LOVE Body Balance and Zumba!  The surprise for me was BODY COMBAT!

I must admit the first class I took I found a little weird and also amusing. As a pacifist, being told to "imagine I was holding my attacker down by the throat and breaking his jaw" really tickled my fancy.  I knew the instructor was pushing for everything we had - and generally gets it, but it's taken a few classes to get used to it, get the hang of some of the punching and kicking combinations and especially to remember to hold my hands up and protect my face!

But I have to say for physical power, inspiration and sheer elegance, as well as mind and body discipline, there's nothing much that I've found beats this form of exercise!  And the instructors at our wonderful local gym really know how to get the most out of us and TOTALLY inspire and engage all the participants. Love to see the power come out of all the women there!  Truly inspirational and empowering!

If you are not exercising at the moment - check this out!  It will do more that get your body fit, agile and poised!  It will give you a new zest for life that you wouldn't expect and that will energize your day as well as add to your self discipline in a really fun way!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Living NOW

If you are not getting the results you would like, chances are that you are engaged in a thinking process that is leading you to where you currently are but don't want to be.  A conscious and Present moment of awareness of where your thoughts are leading you will contribute to some of the most powerful and defining minutes of your life!

A commitment to yourself in writing on who you intend to be, what you intend to do and the mark you intend to leave is a powerful catalyst to achieving your dreams.  I often ask myself, how would I like my kids to describe me, my relationships, my thinking?  With that in hand, I note what type of daily thoughts are required to get the outcome I seek, to make the mark I want to make and leave the impression I want to leave in this world.  Living in the present is a deliberate act and choice. Many thoughts are habitual and like any habit, negative ones must systematically be removed from the mind.  It takes practice, dedication, and forgiveness (you will trip up), but it is worth the journey and the sense of achievement knowing that you are ever closer to being the best you you can be!

Tools such as seminars, books, audio programs and a personal journal can play a powerful role in installing the new empowering thoughts that lead to fulfilling results.  If you don't have any good tools for this let me know because I have some award winning personal development beauties! Hooking up with the right people of a like mind, also trying to achieve more from and for themselves is also crucial.  We are human with the associated frailties of that, support in the form of a like minded community can help significantly to keep us on track!

I read a good exercise recently, try it for yourself.  Put a note up on your wall that says NEVER COMPLAIN. NEVER EXPLAIN! and see how long it takes you to successfully get through a day without doing either!  When you succeed, take the note down.  If it's there for years, at least be comforted to know how drastically improved your life is, having the note there to remind you to complain and explain less.  No excuses, no one else's fault!
Keep me posted on your progress!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mind or Matter - what are we?

The age old question of what happens when we die can most probably only truly be determined at that moment of reckoning.  Nevertheless we ponder and I'd like to share some thoughts on the subject.

Some people think the mind is the brain but that seems incorrect since the brain is physical, can be photographed, operated on in surgery and is clearly physical in nature.  The mind on the other hand is not physical which leads me to the belief that whilst the brain is part of the body, the mind is part of the spirit - something greater than the body and without the same physical constraints of life and death that the body experiences.

Some religions believe that our body and mind are separate entities, and so even though the body disintegrates at death, the continuum of the mind remains unbroken.  Instead of ceasing, the mind simply leaves the present body and goes to the next life.  As I have got older and improved my meditation practices I have grown to share this view.  Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains it as our mind in death leaving our body and going to the next life, just like a guest leaving a guesthouse and going somewhere else.

One way to gain an understanding of past and future lives Geshe Kelsang Gyatso suggests, is to examine the process of sleeping, dreaming and waking, because this closely resembles the process of death, intermediate state and rebirth into the new body.  The only significant difference he suggests is that after the clear light of sleep has ceased, the relationship between our mind and our present body remains the same, whereas after the clear light of death this relationship is broken with the mind forming relationship with a new body.

Some people remember their dreams whilst others have more difficulty.  For those who remember, the concept of waking in a new body and life without being able to remember may seem very unlikely.  For those who don't remember dreams, this may be a more easily believable concept. 

Is it important that we consciously remember from one life to the next?  Or is is enough that at an energetic and vibrational level we experience spiritual growth?  Perhaps too, the more we enhance our spiritual growth within our present physical existence, the more likely we will be able to reach a level of transference where we can remember our lessons and experiences on a conscious plane, from one life to the next.

A question that arises for me with this realization is why we can be prepared to spend so much time looking after our transitory physical being (I shudder at the thought of the amount of energy and money spent in plastic surgery) and so little time in meditation, looking after our eternal mind/spirit?  With the hustle and bustle of our every day lives, we often fail to take time out to connect with our own soul being.  Is it any wonder so many people find life meaningless, purposeless?  Is it any wonder the incidence of mental illness continues to increase at a rather alarming rate.  And yet the cure we offer is often a pill, a physical response to a spiritual problem.  No wonder drugs for mental illness have so many side effects and so relatively little success.

Personal development, the process of self awareness and understanding, is therefore essential not only for helping find our life purpose in this life and ensuring we create a life of meaning for ourselves, or for ensuring present day good mental health, but also as part of a greater spiritual development continuum.  So if you are not doing so already, make personal development, in whatever form it takes and works for you, part of your daily practice today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happiness Is a Choice

Tonight I snuggled my two eldest children (5 & 4) into bed with a wonderful little book entitled "The Short & Incredibly Happy Life of Riley" by Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat.  It is a joyful tale of the happy simplicity of being a rat and makes some beautifully written comparisons to the lives of people, observing that whilst rats live a very short time, it is primarily happy, doing exactly what they want, when they want with whom they want to do it, while people can live an extremely long time being unhappy where they are, with whom they are with and their lot in general. 

The story made me think of my grandmother, who at 102 was finally unable to live independently any longer due to her growing frailness.  Today she has outlived all her peers and indeed many of her peers' children, she may even yet outlive her own and yet she has been a "martyr" all her life. Now don't get me wrong, she, like all people, has many wonderful qualities, but all my life she has told me how hard she's had it, all the things that went wrong, how she had to do everything and be responsible for everyone and that she married the wrong man and they never should have come to this country (Australia) when she was a child........ it goes on and on. To be honest, I am not sure I have ever met a more generally unhappy without being unpleasant to be around person.  The one sticking point for me is the "married the wrong man".  My grandfather who we lovingly called Grumpy, and who died 17 years ago, was indeed the LEAST Grumpy person I have ever known.  He understood what she never could, that happiness is a choice.  He CHOSE to think the best of everyone, to see the good in all events, to live truly and honorably and never have any regrets as a result.  He was a truly remarkable man, yet like the rat, he died early (compared to my grandmother) having lived a happy life, while she still endures, most of the time living with a permanent level of discontent.

At the end of the story my children asked me why lots of people are unhappy when they have so much while rats who have nothing are so happy.  And I thought about this for a minute when I realized something that I have been brewing on for a couple of weeks since the death of a dear friend (something I hadn't realized I'd actually been processing).  It's the fact that we can THINK that makes some of us unhappy.  Paradoxically, it is also the fact that we can THINK that makes some of us extremely happy.  So I said, "We choose whether we will be happy or unhappy by what we think, because it is what we think which ultimately determines how we feel.  And our feelings are very good guide posts to tell us when the thoughts we are having are poor and we should change them."

Let me explain.  If my partner sits on the couch at night, next to the freshly washed clothes in the basket but doesn't fold them, and this happens for a week on end, it's my CHOICE whether this bothers me (makes me unhappy) or not and this is simply the result of what I THINK about what is happening.  If I think, "bloody hell, how can he sit next to the clothes every night and not fold a single one and then every morning ask me where, such an such top or pants or whatever are", then I'm probably going to be pretty miserable!  I might even feel unimportant and neglected and even go so far as to see him not folding the clothes as being directly related to how important he sees me and our relationship.  I can actually carry that thought process a very long way down a very dark abyss IF I CHOOSE!

However, if I either CHOOSE not to think about it at all, OR CHOOSE to think how funny it is that he doesn't even seem to see the washing there waiting to be folded and still needs to ask where things are, then I might even find the EXACT SAME SITUATION a thing of great amusement.  Note, the factual event hasn't changed at all.  The only thing that has changed is HOW I SEE IT.

We CHOOSE happiness or otherwise by the thoughts we CHOOSE to have.  And as intelligent human beings it is our personal responsibility to actively choose thoughts that benefit ourselves, and our own well being as well as that of others.  As adults and parents, it is our absolute responsibility not to allow thoughts to become so habitual that we don't even actively realize we are having them and they are influencing how we feel.  We should never be caught saying "xyz made me feel ....."  or even "you are making me very angry", because it simply isn't true.  But even more importantly we must teach our children, what we now have to teach ourselves and what we did not learn as children; how to think ACTIVELY (by choice) rather than PASSIVELY (by habit).  It takes a lot of effort at first and we will probably always have relapses from time to time but it is our responsibility to think kindly on that and still persevere with the practice. 

So how are you thinking today?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Uncertainty - A Success Killer or Your New Friend?

No matter how confident and self-assured we may feel most of the time, we all have times in our lives when uncertainty creeps into our sphere.  If you think successful people don't know those uncomfortable feelings, those moments of fear, confusion, anxiety, short term sleeplessness, hot and cold waves that come over you and make you sweat (no its not menopause!), powerlessness and those niggling butterflies that steal your appetite, you are wrong!  And, if you thought I was going to share with you some secret tool to rid yourself of uncertainty forever, so you never have to experience those feelings again, then I am afraid I have some bad news for you!  Life is cyclical, we will necessarily move in cycles from periods of certainty to uncertainty and back again because as we grow, discover new levels of freedom, influence and desire, our vistas open and we quite simply outgrow our certainty. 

Thus uncertainty is NECESSARY!  Yep, sorry there is no way around it.  If you are a human being who is going to grow, to avail yourself of new learning opportunities, to blossom into the amazing you that you are meant to be, you are going to experience those sensations and those awkward moments. The good news is that by virtue of its cyclical nature, uncertainty is TEMPORARY.

The difference between those who succeed and those who become too scared to make even the slightest movement in their life, is how we deal with those panicky urges that accompany uncertainty.  Do we let the fear overcome us, run away, get a beer and sit in front of the TV and try to pretend it isn't there, or do we sit down face to face with it, shake hands, make it our friend and avail ourselves of the amazing opportunity for transformation that it represents?  .

Unfortunately many people will do the former.  They have got so used to where they are at, so "comfortable" that they don't actually want too much to change.  The problem is that life isn't like that.  The nature of life is that it is expansive and gradually they will get a growing level of dissatisfaction.  The thing is that this is so sublte that people don't even know it has snuck up on them.  We all know someone like this, they are the ones who grumpily snap "Nothing!  I am happy?"  when you ask them what's wrong with them.  And on some level they actually believe it!  In fact, at different times, we have probably all BEEN this person hiding in the illusion of comfort, squashing down those feelings of uncertainty and dissatisfaction that are ordained by the universe to make us grow.  To make us be bigger than ourselves and to become all that we are meant to be.

The irony is that without even realizing it, by unwittingly trying to buck the expansive nature of life, stay in a place of comfort (lack of change, certainty) and avoid the temporary uncertainty, we are actually creating a perpetual state of discomfort. Failing to embrace temporary uncertainty and discomfort will inevitably bring about a perpetual level of uncertainty and discomfort.  It's kind of like the difference between having an acute illness (one that comes, hits suddenly and obviously, we treat it and then it goes) or having a chronic illness (one that sneaks up slowly, you might not even really realise you are ill, your energy levels have declined and you are becoming depleted, and then stays for a long time, maybe you don't do much about it and is really hard to get rid of).

 If you imagine life as a wavey line with the crest of the wave being comfort and the gutter of the wave being discomfort, then they have got to the comfort spot and decided to stay there, which on the face of it may seem like a good idea and certainly may FEEL in the short term like a good idea.  But the reality is that the waves of life and growth are of increasing intensity (they slope upward), so eventually if you don't go up and down the wave, and instead try to stick to the top, you are going to get thrown by the natural slope!  Every surfer knows that if you don't ride up and down the wave, according to conditions, and instead try to stay at the crest, eventually you'll wipeout!

Have you been,or are you now in a state of perpetual discomfort or uncertainty that feels like it has gone on for some time?  If so, you are not embracing the natural need for change and the uncertainty that comes with that, that universal expansion requires and you have actually allowed your fear to block your own growth.  So what's the answer to that discomfort, what's the trick to ensuring uncertainty is temporary and you don't become "stuck" in it's perpetual state?  EMBRACE!  Open up to change.  Accept not knowing and being temporarily "out of control".  Seek support from others who will offer support during the transition rather than try to suggest you ignore it.  Read some inspiration.  Research YOURSELF and discover something new!  Find the THING that is driving you forward, then HOLD YOUR FAITH and be comforted in knowing "this too shall pass" but even more than that, "I will be a better me for having this experience!"

Life is a journey.  Are you going to ride the plane, only look within the cabin and pretend you never left the ground?  Or are you going to relish the rush of the take off, take the window seat, and soak up those moments when you are so high up it's scarey BUT you also get the clearest view and an amazing new perspective, so that when you are back on the ground you can hold on to the new inspiration to fuel your being, and bring your best you forward to share with the world?  The choice is YOURS!

Friday, August 20, 2010

$86,400.00 - The Bank of Time

This post is not original but I do not know where it came from.  It came to me via an email and I really wanted to share the message it contains.

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest.

Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your private account entirely for your use. However, this prize had rules attached to it.

The first set of Rules:
  1. Everything that you didn't spend during the day would be taken away from you.
  2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.
  3. You may only spend it.
Each morning the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for the day.

The second set of Rules:
  1. The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, "it's over, the game is over"
  2. It can close your account and you will not receive a new one.
What would you personally do?  You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right? Not only for yourself but for all the peple you love, right?  Even for people you don't know, because you couldn't possibly spent it all on yourself, right?  You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

ACTUALLY THIS GAME IS REALITY!  Each of us is in possession of such a "magical" bank.  We just can't seem to see it.  THE MAGICAL BANK IS TIME! 

Each morning we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.  What we haven't lived up that day is forever lost.  Yesterday is gone forever.  Each morning the acount is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your acount at any time.......WITHOUT WARNING.

What will you do with your 86,400 seconds?  Aren't they worth so much more than the same amount in dollars?  Think about that, and always think of this:
Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.  Take care of yourself, and enjoy life!  LIVE LAUGH AND LOVE MORE!  And make it a GREAT day!

Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

Procrastination is probably the number one reason why people "fail".  Fail to achieve what they want, fail to get what they want, fail to be what they want.  But WHY do people procrastinate?  They are generally putting off something that they find too hard, too unpalatable to them, or too scarey!

Sometimes we procrastinate because of something to do with the task at hand.  It might seem too threatening, too difficult, too boring, impossible to finish or a waste of time.  Perhaps we don't quite know where to start, or don't want to ask for assistance from someone for those aspects we are unsure about.  Perhaps it seems like such a big job that we feel we will never complete it so why bother starting, or perhaps it just simply doesn't appeal to us and therefore seems like a waste of our time.

Sometimes our procrastination is a factor of who we are! Perhaps we suffer from perfectionism and until we feel we can undertake the task to perfection we put off doing it at all.  I have a friend who is a brilliant painter and writer and yet does neither, the work just never meets his very high expectations of himself and so he doesn't start.  Perhaps we thrive on adrenalin.  Many of us will have been "last minute" students who do their assignments the night before they are due.  I myself undertook a 10,000 word dissertation for my degree, scrapping everything I had done on the last night it was due and starting again.  This aspect is further exaccerbated if we have done this successfully in the past, finding that we have great success or get good marks acting at the last minute.  And then again many of us will lack self confidence and so put off things we are unsure about perhaps internalizing all our past failures believing that we were the factor of the failure and that another would have had success, or externalizing the positives and believing that any successes we have had are actually the result of other factors and not essentially our own work.

Regardless what the reasons, the truth is, if the task has appeared on our to do list and we have asked ourselves "do I really need to do this thing" and it has remained there, then eventually we must undertake to do it.  Until we do, the task continues to take up valuable space in our head and actually avoiding the task will over time, take up more time and energy than the doing of the task itself!

We've all procrastinated at some point.  The trick is to overcome what holds us back.  So what is the antidote.  It's really very simple.  MAKE A DECISION.  Then START!  TAKE ACTION!  One small step at a time.  Break the task down into bits we feel we can achieve and just simply begin.  There quite simply is no other way. If we need assistance, identify who and where we can get it, that in itself is a step, an achievement, it also helps make the task seems achievable, surmountable.

Successful people do the things others find hard or unpalatable to do.  Successful people don't procrastinate!  So, if you are not having the success in your life that you would like to have, take an inventory. Are there things that have been sitting on your to do list for too long?!  Things that you are avoiding!  Decide if you really need to do them.  If you don't then simply take it off your list and forget it all together.  If you do, make a list of the things you have been procrastinating over.  Next to each one, identify why you have been avoiding the task or procrastinating over it!  You may have to do some soul searching to get to the bottom of this, but it is worth taking the time and being very honest with yourself.  This will help you to identify the first step you need to take to overcome your procrastination (perhaps seek help from another, perhaps take steps to raise your self confidence etc)

Once you have done this, next to each task/item, write down 3 things that are essential for you to do to get the task done.  Do the easiest one first.  The start will give you some momentum, and a sense of achievement.  It will reduce the size of the task because after all, mostly the size of it, has been created entirely in your head.  Once you have done this, you will find continuing to complete the task so much easier.  Once you have done this with one of the areas you have been procrastinating in, you will find it far easier to tackle the next.  If you continue to do it, taking action will become a habit, and avoidance and procrastination will become a thing of the past and your life and success will take a significant turn for the better.  But the bottom line is YOU and MAKING A START.   So what have you been procrastinating over?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Importance of Self-Esteem

No doubt many will read the title of this post and say "well yeah" and that's great!  But what does it really mean?  We can all understand how empowering it is to have good self esteem and how that then flows on to how we treat others and the planet in general.  However, I never understood it so fully as I do now, until I was blessed with children and had the opportunity to watch, 3 very different individuals, growing within the same environment, and to make some really important connections or BFO's (blinding flashes of the obvious).

We are often led to believe that children come into this world a blank slate, ready to be written upon so to speak. But those of you who have had children and really watched those babes, know that's a long way from the truth!  They are their own little people from the very beginning - sure it may be a very basic foundation of who they are that they come into this world with, but it is there nevertheless, and to truly help them evolve into the amazing individuals they came here to be, it is our job as parents to help them navigate their way through this world, with their own authenticity, originality, integrity and importantly their self esteem in tact.
We do our best as parents but as a "learn as you go" profession, we do make mistakes.  And I have noticed when I make those mistakes just what the effect is on my children's self esteem.  (The good news is, if you notice you can fix it!  Kids don't hold grudges naturally, this is something they learn, so if you can fess up and change your mistake, they'll move on quickly without any lasting harm to their self esteem.)

Have you ever noticed with your kids (those who have them), that if you pick them up on "inappropriate" behaviour in a negative way, how that often leads to even more "inappropriate" behaviour, but if you guide them gently and supportively in their behaviour, it's a total non-issue, and they can even thrive on it?
By way of example, I look after a friend's child in the afternoon once a week, and when we do this my 5 year old gets very excited!  He becomes the "big kid" amongst the 4 children I have at that time having just started kinder, and well to put it bluntly, in his excitement and exhuberance he can get kind of cocky and bossy, telling the other kids what to play and how to play it.  The first week this happened I was shocked and not overly impressed and found myself telling him off and expressing what he should do instead with his friends (in hindsight, getting cocky and bossy myself, about him).  Well that was a disaster!  He got worse and started acting out in other ways as well.  You see I had embarrassed him in front of the others, and shaken his confidence in his ability to navigate his own friendships and by making him feel bad about himself (damaging his self esteem, and dampening his natural enthusiasm and exhuberance) I'd made him feel WRONG as a person and his behaviour actually got worse.

The second week this arrangement took place, I'd had a whole week to think about how to handle the situation should it occur again because I certainly don't want what I do with my kids to lead to "worse" behaviour, poor self-esteem, dampened enthusiasm for life and teaching them how NOT to function best in this world.  Naturally enough the same situation arose with him laying down the playing rules for all, and the other kids feeling very over it to say the least.  This time, I gently pulled him aside, reminded him of what a great friend he is, but suggested he just noticed how the other kids were finding him, behaving towards him and what they were saying and asked him to reflect on how he likes to be treated.  Now of course, I didn't say it like that to a 5 year old exactly and you might think someone so small couldn't understand the concepts, but never underestimate your children, they are a amazing!  Well the result too was amazing!  Instead of spiralling into rebellious behaviour and being cross at all around him, he became Mr Incredible.  His behaviour became cooperative, he was gentle with the kids, guiding them, helpful a real treasure really. With self esteem in tact, his positive natural light could shine and the best in him came forth.

We all know this if we think back, we can remember how we react when we feel bad about a situation versus when we feel good. So in the words of the great Wayne Dyer, "inspire people by helping them to see themselves as better than they are".  When we do that we help them shine the light in the world that they are uniquely here to bring.

Limiting Beliefs II - what are your beliefs about others?

The unsettling thing about limiting beliefs is that they not only limit us but they also limit those around us.  Very often those we love most.  If you start saying about your child at 6 months of age that he is a difficult baby (maybe he has reflux and is not a good sleeper), the odds are against him because it is most likely he will grow up with you believing he is a troublesome 2 year old, a challenging preschooler, and perhaps even an out of control teenager.  The question we could never know that answer to, is how much of that result was because of your belief about him and how much would have happened if you'd been able to keep the belief that he was not a difficult baby but a baby with a difficulty (ie., reflux).  Herein lies the problem with generalizations!

I had a friend who had twin boys, and he often complained that he was always trying to balance people's comments about the twins.  He would get apparently harmless questions about "Which one is the quiet one?" "Which one is the curious one?" "Which one is the cheerful one?"  And he found himself fielding these questions with answers like "Neither" or "Both, depends on the day".  He was painfully aware that labelling or generalizing about a person in an ongoing way, can not only create a permanent belief that we may then hold to be a truth, but can also, particularly in the case of children, become reality (as with the example in my previous post)

As parents, I believe it is not our job to tell the child how they are, but to help them discover WHO they are!  I recently caught myself believing my little boy is "full on" which was my way of saying that he sometimes loses control, gets over excited or even angry.  Well guess what I discovered?  That is what 4 and 5 year old children do!  And I would challenge even adults to consider whether or not they sometimes lose control (like being on a diet and having that piece of birthday cake anyway).  I now recognise that he is just being what he is - a small boy and I don't attempt to define it in any way.

So, think about what your beliefs of your children, your family, your spouse and even your friends are.  Are they generalizations that you have chosen to focus on?  Are they helping the development of the person, or the relationship, or are they hindering it?  If it isn't helpful to anyone, change the belief.  It'll take focus but is truly worth the effort.

We need to BELIEVE the best even when faced with less than this, and focus on the positives in every situation since what we focus on we get more of.  When focusing on children this will help them create a better belief and life for themselves, and for adults it will help them to be better in themselves.  People generally live up (or down) to our belief in them.  For ourselves, our loved ones and those around us to be successful, we must BELIEVE the BEST (and acknowledge that sometimes we must also tolerate the worst).

Limiting Beliefs - what are your beliefs about yourself?

A belief is nothing more than a feeling of certainty about what something means.  It may or may not be true, our mind doesn't care.  They can be conscious or unconscious but it is very important to get a clear handle on what our own beliefs are because they totally control our behaviour towards everything and everyone.

Many, in fact I would suggest almost all, of our beliefs are bestowed upon us by our family, friends and culture and often they are so pervasive that it is difficult to identify it as a belief because it has so much been a part of our lives and our thinking that it FEELS like a fact. It is important to remember that these beliefs are given to us most often by loved ones with the best intentions for us.  Why is it important to remember this?  Because being successful in our lives requires us to be accountable and we are not being accountable if we are looking for others to blame for our current circumstances.  If we are adults, then we must take the lion share of responsibility about where we are at, what we believe and how we behave and act.  It is never too late to start, great gains can be made in a short time and the results can be astounding.

In order to understand what our beliefs are however, it can be very helpful to identify where they came from, not for the purpose of blame but for the purpose of making change!

As mature adults, my sister and I were sitting around a Christmas table with my mother and other family members reminiscing about childhood days when we apparently horrified our mother.  This is how it came about.

When my sister and I were both small (probably from the age of about 3 and 4) my sister was always told that she was "the nice one" and I was always told I was "the smart one".  Now in actual fact and with the benefit of hindsight and maturity I can see that neither of those statements actually means much because both "nice" and "smart" are such vague and subjective terms, but to two small children they made a huge impression.  What our parents did not realise, was that by telling my sister that she was "the nice one", they were also telling me (as far as both my sister and I were concerned) that I was NOT the nice one.  Conversely, by telling me that I was "the smart one", they were also telling my sister that she was NOT the smart one.  We both grew up believing these statements to be true about ourselves with the result that my sister dropped out of high school at her earliest convenience (I think aged 16) and I was forever in all sorts of trouble with any identifiable form of authority which was all the more frustrating for the authority figures because despite it I continued to do well at school.  More to the point, even at age 21, when I first moved into a share arrangement, I warned my new flatmates that I was "difficult to live with" (my grown up and modified version of "I am not nice").  Imagine my shock when they got back to me a few weeks later laughing and saying they couldn't believe I thought that let alone said it!

Neither my sister or I had ever discussed these beliefs until that Christmas meal but we were both adament and clear that we had always had the same unspoken understanding; Melly was the nice but not so smart one, and I was the smart but not so nice one.  My mother was horrified for two reasons.  Firstly, she had probably never intended the implication that came about in reverse for each of us, and secondly, that we were both so clear about these beliefs, that we had made them into fact.

Now the truth is that my sister is sharp as a tack with anything of any interest to her whatsoever, and I am perfectly capable of being nice, but even now 35 years down the track, in challenging times, it can take work not to slip back into such an ingrained belief.

Some common areas for limiting beliefs can be:
  • Money (perhaps "rich people made their money by ripping others off")
  • Relationships (perhaps "she won't like me if I speak my truth")
  • Health (perhaps "I'm not fat I'm just big boned)
  • Career (perhaps "all the women in our family have been nurses")
  • Spirituality or Religion (depending on what's your thing)
  • Personality (as with mine - nice, not nice; smart, not smart)
Think about what your beliefs are.  Where did they come from?  Are they consistent with what you truly believe yourself?  Write them down and identify those which are serving you and helping you to create your life the way you want it and on your terms, and those beliefs which are actually getting in your way (or serving you in a way that meets some need you have but which actually also prevents your success) such as "it's not my fault I'm not nice, I was taught to believe that all my life".  With those that are not serving you, it's time to create a new belief.

The past does not necessarily equal the future and it is through our beliefs that we can change it's course.  One of the best ways to change our limiting beliefs it to undertake a course in self improvement or personal development. This takes time and persistence because it is much harder to change our beliefs as adults than it is to form them as children.  This is important for two reasons, one is that we can recognise and appreciate the work required to "get out of our own way" or learn a new set of beliefs and get our own limiting beliefs out of our way of success as adults but also because as parents it tells us how crucial our role as leader and guide is in influencing the little life entrusted to us.

Please share your experiences, you might be amazed at how many people can benefit from your story!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teaching Kids Self Belief

Unfortunately in our society, we are taught far more to "be careful, realistic, rational, logical, sensible, etc - all very left brain dominated activities, than we are to have a dream, hold the belief, and take the bold steps necessary to see it come to fruition.  As a parent, I totally understand how this happens.  We don't want to see our children hurt (either physically by being too daring, or emotionally by being too "different") so we can tend to fill them full of warnings; so much so that they lose the essence of their true selves and their sense of belief in themselves.  It happens subtly and creeps in even when we are wary of doing so.

By way of example, my husband and son were having an ongoing debate (which as it progressed was getting more intense).  My then 4 year old son, who had already broken his arm, once jumping off a bed, aged 3, once again wanted to jump off something; this time something a little higher and more challenging.  My husband was concerned and urging him to get down before he hurt himself and my son was adamant he wouldn't hurt himself.  After listening to the banter in the background (but getting louder) for about half an hour I went to investigate.

My son addressed me and explained he wanted to jump off the work bench but that dad didn’t want him to.  Trying to ensure that I didn’t undermine what dad was trying to impress upon him, I reminded my son that we loved him very much and therefore wanted to keep him safe.  I also reminded him that he had previously injured himself jumping off things and this was probably why dad didn’t want him to launch himself off the bench.  Now not being a silly kid he nodded his head and gave this some real consideration before saying,
“Mum, if I jump off here will I hurt myself?”  Of course this is a trick question because the reality is actually anyone’s guess and there are so many chance variables involved it is truly impossible to tell.  However, it wasn’t a particularly high bench (probably exactly the sort of thing I would have done as a kid) and I thought he was probably in a better position to understand his own physical ability than I was so I said to him,
“Well, there’s a chance you will hurt yourself, and there’s a chance you won’t.  You need to think about how you feel about it and how important it is to you before you decide whether to jump off or not.”  This might seem like a lot for a little kid to take in but you would be amazed how well kids can think if you give them the chance.  After a moment’s pause he nodded and said,
“I wanna do it and I think I can”.
“Ok then” I said.  He jumped, no injury, jumped two more times and was over it.  He had a sense of achievement and success, he also had a sense of self belief and trust and the banter was over with (thank God!).

Of course with children there will be many times when we have to think for them because life experience tells us they are putting themselves in danger which is unacceptably high and as a responsible parent we simply cannot allow it.  However, we must be careful to pick those times very carefully.  If we do it all the time, we kill their sense of belief in themselves their sense of capability, and dramatically limit their thinking, often for the rest of their lives.

Those of us who have spent time and energy, undoing the best meaning advice of friends and family trying to “get back to ourselves”, our core essence and  to achieve those dreams that got locked up inside us as kids can truly appreciate the importance of allowing latitude where we can.  So next time you hear a sentence starting with “Be” coming from your lips, just check how necessary your intervention really is so that we can allow our children to flourish as richly and expansively as ever they can.

The Power of Belief and the company you keep.

"Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I shall have the belief that I can do it. I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning."  -  Mahatma Gandhi

A belief is nothing more than a feeling of certainty about what something means.  It may or may not be true, our mind doesn't care.  Beliefs can be conscious or unconscious but it is very important to get a clear handle on what our own beliefs are because they totally control our behaviour.  Thus it is impossible to overstate the importance of belief, particularly in oneself and what one wants to do.  Beliefs about ourselves are like that of the placebo effect only in digital, high definition stereo, because they subtly influence every area of our lives.

Many of us will be familiar with Tony Robbins' "firewalks" where Tony shows ordinary people how to do extraordinary things through the power of belief.  We may also know people (or have been one) who aren't hurt until they see the blood and then faint immediately upon the appearance of even a trickle of that rich red liquid.

But beliefs not only effect ourselves (and we will look at these in a bit more detail in future posts), they also carry with them a vibration that can be picked up by others around you, so that without words, you can influence someone or something with a belief you hold without even knowing or intending to - if you believe it strongly enough.  Conversely you can also be influenced by the beliefs of others around you without necessarily being aware of it.

As kids my sister and I were avid horse riders.  Her horse was frightenend of water, and always refused water jumps while my horse couldn't wait to get in.  At a cross country event one day we switched horses for the day, a bit of a dare and an opportunity to expand our skills.  In the midst of the course with adrenalin pumping we obviously both forgot to some degree which horse we were on.  It was the one and only time my horse ever refused a water jump and also the one and only time her horse ever went straight in.  Our respective beliefs about what would occur at the water jump became the reality in spite of all past experience of each of the horses.  This flow on is equally true with people.

Therefore, if you are wanting to find the secret of life success, however you define it, it is important to surround yourself (where possible) with people who believe both in their own and your ability to succeed.  Find a community of support personnel who will help you maintain your belief in yourself in challenging times and who want to help you improve yourself and be the best you can be while you help them do the same.  You don't even have to be heading in the same direction, it is the mutual support and belief that is important.

People who truly find the secret of life, successful people and entrepreneurs in any field, believe in themselves, believe in their vision of what is possible and believe in the capacity of others to do the same - that is what makes it so in their lives.  Can you use your beliefs to make it so in yours?

Areas of Success - Achieving Balance

Balance is quite possibly the most important and unassuming quality a person can have in their lives.  You can tell the people who have it, they are energetic but not frenetic, decisive but not rushed, and prioritize their time according to their area of focus and achieving the goals they have set for themselves.  They usually don’t feel the need to push, convince or judge because their world is more calm than many others, and they don’t even feel the need necessarily to share with others what their goals are or be boastful about success.  They usually also wish for others, balance and success such as they have because they can probably remember a time when life for them was not as tranquil (even if it is still busy) as it is once they have achieved that balance.

When thinking of success and keeping the balance in my life, I try to break life down in to the elements that are important to me and then see how I rate each of the areas.  It is important to realize that these are dynamic, changing priorities with the ebb and flow of life and will be different for everyone.  For me at the moment the key areas to be balanced out which help me to feel successful in my life are:

  • Children (spending quality time with my 3 angels and continually learning from them and others how to be a better person and parent)
  • Love Life (keeping the passion and spark alive in relationship with my husband)
  • Family (maintaining a quality relationship with parents, siblings, in-laws and other extended family members)
  • Finances (having financial freedom to have the time to spend on the people and things that are important and enjoyable to me)
  • Spirituality (feeling a sense of connection to something greater than “I”).
  • Contribution (helping others, giving something back, you may call it paying it forward)
  • Personal Fulfillment (doing things that keep me inspired, this might be music, painting, photography, horse-riding – whatever)
Now of course the first three can be bundled into one area called “relationships” or “family” but I found that there are times when certain relationships can come into competition with one another and I found it very helpful to separate them out and prioritize them in importance so that I could make good decisions during times when relationships may have been putting the “squeeze” on me.

It can be helpful to rate each of these areas (and your own may be different) on a scale of one to ten to see which areas you feel you are most successful in and also least successful in and therefore which areas you might want to work on first!  Sometimes in doing this exercise you might be surprised that something you spend a lot of time on isn’t actually one of your priorities.  This can be an incredibly valuable insight to ensure you stop spending time on things that are not adding to you feeling successful in your life and reprioritizing to those areas that emerge as important to you.

Now some people will groan and say “can’t be bothered with that, I know what is important to me”.  Well I’d like a dollar for every time I heard someone say that, then actually do the exercise and hear the surprise in their voices when they discover they didn’t know their inner self as well as they thought they did.  It takes time – you have to spend time with yourself, concentrate, dream, meditate and play, you might be surprised what you find there!  As Socrates said “The life which is unexamined is not worth living”.  Not only might you be surprised at what you learn, but you will most likely find better balance in the things most important to you and with that comes a very enjoyable sense of inner peace in this very busy world as well as a much greater sense of success!  Let me know how you go!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Famous Definitions of Success - new opportunities.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. - Albert Schweitzer

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter Drucker

The secret of success is constancy to purpose. - Benjamin Disraeli

Coming previously from the corporate world where Peter Drucker is considered a guru, I'd have to say on this account, he's totally WRONG!  Schweitzer and Disraeli allow for the fact that success is defined by each of us individually and is associated with how we feel.  Whether running a home based business such as I do, being a full-time carer for an elderly parent, or providing a wildlife refuge for injured animals, the secret of life success is in how we feel about what we do.

Unfortunately Drucker takes the corporate, herd mentality view that someone outside of ourselves defines success for us; that someone else can judge not only whether something we are doing is "useless" but whether or not we are doing that "useless" thing "efficiently".  What a crazy concept.  Only we can determine whether we feel what we are doing is useless and I would hazard a guess that if any of us felt that way, we'd stop doing that which made us feel that way as quickly as we could!

In todays fast paced world, with so much information and so many options, we now have a new opportunity; to know for ourselves what is right for us and what makes us a success.  We don't have to work and live in traditional western societal ways, pre-ordained by schooling, political groups or even the norm.  We now have many other options to find our own secret of life.  It is a journey, but one well worth embarking on in order to have a wonderfully fulfilling life.

Share your experience or if you don't know where to begin, personal development will help.  Break out of the herd and find your definition of success.  THEN LIVE IT!

What is Success to You?

As we all know success comes in many different ways and means very different things to each of us.  When I looked on the web for a definition of success I got 5,600,000 results and I'd have to say, that doesn't seem like many.  Why?  Because success is personal.  Success is generally associated with a feeling, and what generates that particular feeling for each of us will be different.

What is your definition of success? Before you can achieve success, you need to define what success means to you.

For me success is running a wonderful home based online personal development business (Secret Of Life Biz) which enables me to have the financial freedom to work hours that suit the needs of my young family.  It frees me up to attend school harmony days, cross-country events, take my small bub to swimming, attend dance classes and basically spend the quality time with my family that I desire and NOT have to put them into child care.  After all, I didn't have my children so that someone else could effectively raise them and be there for all their "firsts" while I worked away from them and missed out on it.  Because success and the Secret of Life for me is also about raising a caring, compassionate, happy and harmonious family which is probably the greatest challenge of all time!  Watching my young family growing into responsible and considerate members of our community is an absolute key to whether I am being successful as a parent.

Success for me is career based as well as in my role as a parent.  But success as I define it (and we each would do well to define it for ourselves) also includes developing myself as a human being and trying to find balance and harmony within myself which is why I am a keen advocate of personal development.  It includes things that keep the passion alive in me such as writing, painting, playing music and horse riding, as well as attaining a level of spirituality (not necessarily religion) which makes me feel fulfilled.  When I am fulfilled, I can also help to fill "other's cups" at times when they are depleted, which enables me to contribute to those around me and meet another of the aspects which I believe contribute to a successful life.

I'd really like to hear from you, about what success means to you and even the ways you go about creating that for yourself.  In this busy world it is not easy; sharing can simplify the journey.  Look forward to your contributions!  Ciao for now, Janine.

Welcome To Life Success

Welcome to my new blog which is all about identifying, sharing and celebrating what success is in our lives, the successes we each have in a huge variety of different ways and also the journey we each take along the way to find our own version of success.  I've created this blog to allow people to share the pitfalls and wins along their path with the hope that we can learn from each other and hopefully face fewer pitfalls, or at least have a place to come for a kitbag of tools to use to help us along our way.

I hope you enjoy the blog and will contribute your amazing experiences along the way as well.

Regards, Janine.