Genuine Self-Help…


Sri-Lanka-OrchidThe term “self-help” has fallen out of favor in recent years. I guess the notion that you were reading a book because you needed some assistance, made you into a weak person, ever in need of help. So, they changed the name to “self-development” which is actually the exact same thing, but whatever works to sell books, I suppose. And boy, do they ever sell books! So, I mused… Why would a person read a self-help book? I think, if you are honest, you are reading it because you perceive that something needs to change in your life. Or, you might feel that something is wrong with you and that you are in need of repair. In either case, I’m not sure why that would be considered shameful, as all of us need fixing up at times! But, here’s the crucial question. Does self-help really help? Do the avid self-help readers really change for the better? And, if the people who invest their hearts into the literature don’t change, why is that?

I recall a time in my life when I was an avid reader of self-help literature. I mean, I read everything there was to read. As soon as I finished one, I went and got another. Looking back, it was a time in my life when things had sort of gone south on me. Through wrong teachings, harsh associations and mega doses of fear, I had morphed into someone who I hated. I just couldn’t stand myself. How in the hell did fun-loving, carefree Tony turn into “that guy?” I had become hard and callous and critical and worst of all, religious! I needed help and sought comfort from the self-help literature. And wow, did it ever comfort me! But, after quite some time, I noticed a pattern. While I was reading the literature I felt awesome, but it quickly faded and necessitated purchasing a new book. And you wonder why the self-help business is booming?! In most cases there was nothing wrong with the information. The books were loaded with principles and valid suggestions, but knowledge alone doesn’t get the job done! In order to transform your life, you need wisdom otherwise known as “knowledge applied!”

My wife and I have a dear friend named La Detra, whom we greatly admire. She is very successful and lives a dream life. When she has an idea, she pursues it to the full. Yes she is very intelligent and yes she went to Harvard. She is a critical thinker in the highest sense of the word. She is always in pursuit of the knowledge. But, what separates her from the pack is her determination to “do!” When she wants to make something happen, she analyzes the necessary conditions and then takes action to make it a reality. The reason so many equally intelligent people don’t realize their goals is their failure to actually launch! They think and study and read and think and study and never actually apply! Nothing happens, nothing changes, nothing ever gets better until you turn your knowledge into action. Self-development literature is loaded with time-tested principles that will always work in your life. But somewhere along the line you have to change from an avid reader to an avid “do-er!”

Our life dreams, our goals, our heartfelt desires are only realized when we decide to turn our thought into action. I know, I know, it seems so intimidating, so impossible, so huge! But, I submit that it’s only so arduous because it has not yet left your imagination! Have you ever woke up in the morning afraid of something, only to discover it loses its grip on you once you finally decide to get up? Action cures fear and inaction strengthens fear! As long as you remain in research mode you may feel better but you won’t experience real change! Genuine change comes about only when you begin to act. The path to your desired outcome only reveals itself when you finally get out of your mind and on the path! Take a step. Make a move. Begin!!!

No-one experiences success in life overnight. No flower starts off by blooming. Instead it is first planted, then struggles through the soil, continues growing until it is at last a beautiful orchid. So you too, my friend, must first plant that glorious picture of the “new you” in your mind, endure the struggle of change, and continue growing until you become, at last, what you always knew you could become! And incredibly, once you embark on your journey, you’ll discover that all of life is voting in favor of you. Your answers will reveal themselves like glittering gold in the murky riverbed. What once abruptly halted your progress will fade away like the morning mist. You will rise and fight and overcome and nothing shall, by any means, stop you. That is, if you can persuade that old obstinate mind of yours to take an actual step!

As you are thinking this through today, ask yourself this question… What idea, what dream, what goal have you actually applied yourself to with full effort and still failed? You know and I know, those things you call failure are actually “you not taking action” or “you stopped taking action!” As long as you are still alive, you still have a shot at achieving your dreams no matter how many times the fat lady has already sung!

What change do you so desperately need in your own life? What do you need to do to stop hating that guy or gal in the mirror? Take some time to get a clear picture in your mind of your “new” self, find the knowledge that appeals most to your heart and then take the action the knowledge suggested! You will be greatly challenged in the beginning because someone or something wants you to remain defeated. But, there’s an infinitely bigger Someone or Something that wants you to succeed! The life you’ve always wanted is there for you, my friends, but you have to get out of bed, dress up and show up!

Just some good thoughts…

PS If you need a great book (that you promise to apply), I highly recommend:

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The Impossibility of the Cumulative Life…


cumulative-poisson-distribution-formulaI think if you are honest with yourself, and honesty is important in learning how to successfully navigate life, most of your difficulties come from your thoughts. You drag around this massive corpse of a memory of things long past. Since the past no longer exists in anything but your mind, it shouldn’t have such an impact on the person you are today. Now, I’m not referring to pleasant memories or past learning. I’m talking about the bad things or the weaknesses or issues you doggedly assign to yourself in the present. Maybe you did have trouble standing up for yourself when you were 12, but to stubbornly cling to that worn out notion at age 40 makes no sense. The reason this mountainous weight of a stone clings to your psyche is because you keep it alive in your mind by trying to live a cumulative life.

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or exercise more and then failed miserably shortly thereafter? Say what you want about discipline, losing weight and exercising more, though producing a cumulative effect, cannot be successfully undertaken with a cumulative mindset. In other words, you have to decide to eat less or healthier or exercise right now, today. The fact that you did what you said for the past three days guarantees nothing. The fact that you didn’t do what you said you were going to do for the past three days means nothing either. What matters is right now. What can you do right now? If you can get real good at doing “right now,” soon you will experience a cumulative effect!

For some reason, people have the hardest time living in the present. Assuming we all have weaknesses and areas we don’t do so well in, how could we ever possibly expect to change anything living entangled in a spaghetti bowl of multiplied yesterdays? Add to that trying to live in some future day and now you are just a sloppy Joe (poured over spaghetti)!

God, if I may speak for Him, designed life to be lived right now in succinct 24 hour periods (The evening and the morning were the first day). Imagine the idea of having a bad day if the day lasted forever. But, that’s exactly how people live; one perpetually long day. Instead each day is cleverly separated by night (sleep) and in the morning a new day begins. “Well, tomorrow is new day!” Every new day is an opportunity for you to begin anew, fresh. What you did wrong yesterday generally has little bearing on your life, that is of course unless you allow it to. You allow it to by granting it “airplay.” Yes, sure you need to learn from whatever, but you aren’t playing that track for any learning. You are re-playing it because you feel bad and are punishing yourself. But now listen closely for a moment here. Does any amount of self-flagellation make you a better person? Does your incessant focus on yesterday or a year ago or ten years ago or your childhood or “that one thing” do anything to change it? It only exists in your mind. Your cumulative negative past doesn’t have a blessed thing to do with your life right now! So, my friend, just let it go. Stop persisting in your perpetual bad day and start fresh.

When you decide to live right now, in the new day, you give yourself permission to begin again. Remember the first time you played a certain sport? You probably sucked right? If you held the thought of how bad you sucked and never tried again, you’d still suck, I’m guessing. But, if you had the courage to start again and again and again, at some point you got pretty good. Your life is like that. Those negative images; those frightful memories do not serve the person you are today. They do just the opposite. They hold you back. God does not want you to be held back! Every day; every single day, He is giving you another fresh start. Shoot, He even sent His son to pay the price for everything you could ever do wrong! Everything! You aren’t doing God any favors by living in your past. Instead you are stubbornly refusing His gift to you; a new beginning!

Life was not designed to be lived cumulatively. You are not the sum of everything you have ever done and not done. Instead, you are who you are right now, in this moment. Right now you can be a tremendous source of love, compassion and kindness. Oh, you weren’t that yesterday? So what! Be it today. Well, up to now you haven’t had much success? So what! Decide to be a success right now! What if I forget tomorrow? You never have to deal with tomorrow, only right now! If you live to be 80 years old, that means you have 29,219.4 days to live. How many days have you already wasted, caught up thinking about something that happened on day 10,957.3?

If you believe what I’m telling you and I sure hope you do, you will begin to understand that life is to be lived one day at a time. Imagine how much weight will be lifted off your shoulders when you agree with God and focus your energy on today. Imagine how sweet your life can become by making this day the best ever and refusing to let yesterday creep in. Imagine…huh?

The cumulative life is an impossible life!

You are who you are today. Don’t let anyone (even yourself) tell you otherwise…

Just some good thoughts…

Living Your Reflection…


reflection_28Here’s some food for thought… The life you are presently living is a direct reflection of your most dominant and habitual thinking. Read that again! Up to this point you may not have made this connection. Most folks don’t. Instead people think that life is happening to them and they are simply reacting to whatever life does next. People that live in a perpetual struggle falsely conclude that circumstances are working against them and probably even long for the time when the struggle will end. But, they remain unaware that their habitual thought forms the basis of their expectations and as such they are living in a world of their own making.

Habits are, in themselves, useful. On the positive side they free your mind of the unnecessary thought required to complete mundane tasks. However, habits also have a dark side. Negative patterns of thought, rehearsed over and over again lead to negative expectations, which manifest themselves in negative circumstances. And, to make matters worse, the habits become invisible to you because of their habituation. And, once darkness has become invisible to you, it is allowed to perpetuate within you to bring about those struggles you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.

I’m sure you’ve heard people complain to God about why life is so hard and why there is so much struggling going on. And, let’s be honest, there is some heavy-duty struggling happening. But, what you may not know is that God has given you control over those struggles once you know how to go about turning things around. God hasn’t left us without a remedy and surely doesn’t condone pain and hardship. But, until you finally learn that your life is “your” life and that you can exercise control, things will go on as they’ve always gone on since the beginning of time.

Just so you don’t think this is “crazy” talk, let me ask you some questions. At this very moment in time, what do think about life? Do think it is a struggle? Do you think it is hard and random and filled with the unexpected? Do you think that is always hard for you to get money and that it always will be? Do you think that disease just happens and that you are powerless against it? Your honest answer to those questions is the life you are presently living. Your expectation; your belief is precisely what you are experiencing and will continue to experience as long as you keep thinking the way you are thinking. Life won’t turn around for you and your ship won’t come in. It cannot because it is a direct reflection of your inmost thoughts. Change your thoughts; change your expectations; change your beliefs and your life will change.

In order to right the ship, you have to become keenly aware of what was formerly invisible; namely your thoughts. You have to start recognizing your negative thought habit patterns. You have to see where you have become your own worst enemy. You must clearly discern that negative chatter, ever providing reasons why you cannot succeed; why you cannot get ahead; why you cannot win. And once you finally hear it, you have to start forcefully challenging those false assumptions. Those assumptions are not “just life” but instead are lies you have been worn down into accepting. There’s no shame in being led astray because the whole world has been led astray, on purpose, by the evil that lies deep behind it, hidden. The real shame comes when you see a glimpse of the light and refuse to heed the lesson.

Have you ever noticed how people set goals for themselves? They set goals with tiny incremental increases as if one can only progress with baby steps. They don’t realize that the larger the goal; the larger the expectations, the larger the result. It is like that with your thoughts. Once you have begun to see and challenge a series of thoughts, your responsibility is to change your thoughts and expectations to something you actually want. It takes the exact same amount of effort to think something good as it takes to think something bad. But make no mistake, you are choosing by what you “choose” to think and hold onto.

I should add, because I know what you’re thinking, that sometimes you “find” yourselves in a challenging situation that you didn’t necessarily bring upon yourself. Sometimes people are under attack; in bad environments and feel that they are being tested. Well, they are being tested but never by God. The test is in how you respond to the challenge. Will you accept what it “seems” like or will you remain stedfast in your beliefs and overcome? You would be surprised how quickly things turn around when you make your mind up! But, if you succumb to what “appears” to be real, you end up down the same blind alleys you traveled before.

As living, breathing, thinking human beings, we always have a say in how things are going to turn out. Always! The key lies in refusing to accept the information that comes to your mind via your five senses, and trusting instead what God says is true! Obviously you can ridicule this notion and demand that what it seems like, is true, but with that you can resign yourself to your usual, perpetual struggle.

Your life, my life is a reflection of those things we think about the most. Change your thoughts and your life will change. It isn’t about being naively positive, it’s about choosing what you will and will not accept in your life. You have more control than you ever thought. God would have it no other way! Really!

Just some good reflections…

 

…Yeah, but why?


NewYearsResolutionsIt’s almost that time of the year when you are going to make your New Year’s resolutions. But, before you write that fanciful wish list, give this a little thought… Notice how many “goals” on your list are the exact same things you had on there last year and the year before and the year before. So logically, if you are writing the same things over and over again, something must be wrong!

When it comes to getting your needs met, and I’m assuming your dream-sheet is about getting your needs met, the first thing you have to ask yourself is, “What do I really need?” I’m not talking that minimalist logic that claims all you really need is food and water. If all you needed was food and water you would be a dog, not a human! Instead you, like the rest of us, have many needs; some simple and some complex. And in order to get those needs met, you must discover exactly what they are. It’s so easy to write, “lose weight.” But, before you are going to really lose that weight, something has to happen. No, no, no I don’t mean make up your mind to eat healthy, or to exercise more or to get more disciplined! You think that’s what it is and that’s why you write that fantasy memo every year. If that’s all there was to it, we would have all become slim and sexy by now. But that’s not all there is to it. In order to finally start delving deeper, you have to ask yourself, “Yeah, but why?”

Why do you want to lose weight (make more money, get healthier, exercise more, quit smoking/liquor/wild women and drugs)? Is that even what you really want? Really… Do you really want more money? How much? Is it the money you want or some specific items? Are there hundreds of things or maybe just two things. Right? Yeah, but why? Maybe you have become very clear on what you want and why. Very, very clear. So “why” don’t you manage to achieve it? As my good friend Mark recently taught, often there is something deeper going on that is shaping your behavior. There may be deep-seated habits and unmet needs that are sabotaging your efforts. Maybe you aint eating so much because you’re hungry, ya know? Substitute drinking, spending, etc.

Recently I did a little experiment. For about the past 15 or so years I have been trying to lose about 10-15 pounds. Not 30, 40 or 50 pounds mind you; 15 pounds. And, as you might expect, I was on a diet for about that same time period. Imagine a diet lasting 15 years with 10 or 15 pounds at stake. Imagine… I did Weight Watchers (paid the money), Fit for Life (bought the book), Low Carb, No Carb, and HCG (more money). And, I lost weight. On HCG I got down to 199 once. Yay, but about two days later I was back up 2 pounds. I weighed myself almost every day, for years! I starved, then binged. Saved points for wine (WW). Criticized myself every time I ate something fattening or sweet or a cookie or fast food or for even having breakfast. Again, imagine… After admitting to myself that I was living the definition of insanity, I decided enough was enough. Enter the experiment! I simply stopped. Stopped weighing, stopped obsessing, stopped denying myself anything potentially fattening. Stopped it! Did I lose a bunch of weight? No! But I learned that basically no matter what I ate, (eating normally, not going ham) my weight stayed at exactly 209-210 pounds. And even better, it finally dawned on me, “why” do I need to drop that 10 pounds? Do I really care that much? Or am I trying to fit into a cultural mindset that associates slim with disciplined/sexy/good/youth…ahhh youth-now we are getting somewhere! Would it be better for me if I weighed 10-15 pounds less? Of course. But the “why” of losing the weight, showed me “why” I haven’t been successful so far (unsuccessful in losing the weight, not in being happier!).

In order to really reach your goals, or even get your needs met, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Maybe you don’t even want those things you write every year. Maybe. Maybe you have some deeper needs you have been pushing to the side. Maybe it’s time to look yourself in the eye and figure out what you really want as opposed to what you are “supposed” to want. Maybe all you need is an uncommitted $10,000 in the bank as opposed to becoming rich! Again, maybe…

The things in life we are serious about getting, we get! The things we aren’t serious about, we don’t get. Instead of just writing that crazy list, swearing off everything you enjoy in life, take yourself a step deeper and ask yourself, why? It is your one life, right? What is very important to you? Get those things and not to sound cheesy, but those things aren’t always money!

The New Year is a great time to reset your course in life. But don’t reset things that are already working well. Strive for more; do more; be more; love more! Just be sure your more is “your” more!

Your life is what you make it. Why? Because it is your life!

Just some good thoughts…