The Power of Infinite Hope

Does it sometimes feel like the world is spinning completely out of control? That the people steering the Mother Ship have all but lost their collective minds? This week has brought another layer of crazy to what already seemed like the limit … and yet, we somehow manage to continue – each of us living our life, watching from a distance as events unfold … and sometimes from not such a distance, when the craziness hits close to home.

During such times, how are we supposed to rally ourselves to meet and greet another day? The fear and worry that can so easily grip our hearts … how do we manage to carry on, despite our deepest concerns? 

The New Normal

When we look back over our fairly recent history – at least from a North American perspective – doesn’t it seem that what once was the simple, predictable and mostly secure lifestyle many of us enjoyed has all but vanished? It has gradually been replaced by endless political corruption and complexities, leading to erratic and shocking global conflicts where there used to be at least a modicum of civility – leaving our sense of security an almost ideological dream. Has this really become the new normal? 

It can easily seem overwhelming, except for one powerful and enduring human weapon – the power of infinite hope. Where would civilization be without the ability to envision a better world, and the determination to then create it? Without hope, we would still be back in the dark ages … because hope is what spurs our quest for betterment. Each generation hopes their children will have a more fulfilled life than theirs, and they begin to envision the changes necessary to provide for that. 

These changes are born of a determined decision that things must improve … and this decision stems from an unshakable hope that our ingenuity can create that vision. As a result, we experience a spurt of progress. But without that hope, where would the courage come from that compels us to even try? How could we possibly dare?

Hope Underpins All Advances

In the early 1960s, a meteorological scientist by the name of Edward Lorenz was running computerized equations to theoretically model and predict weather conditions. Quite by accident, he discovered that even the tiniest fractional change in a predictability equation would yield huge variances in projected outcomes.

What has this to do with the subject of hope? Well, this discovery led to the supposition of ‘The Butterfly Effect’, which is a scientific theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. It ponders whether ‘a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could set into motion the cause of a tornado in Texas’ … 

To bring this more into focus, the implication is that each and every person alive today can, through our unique contributions and efforts, affect a change upon the future of our world. Does that seem too large to comprehend? What if we break it down into more simple terms? For example, if we each do what we can for the betterment of the earth – of our world, the one without which there is no us – then, according to the Butterfly Effect, we can change the direction of our collective future.

Creating Your Own Butterfly Effect

How would this look, then, through the lens of your own life? What changes can you make today to begin your contribution to the Butterfly Effect? Be aware that taking no action is also contributing to the overall Effect, so give some thought to what that means to you.

The Power of Infinite Hope suggests that when – and likely only when – the majority of the world’s inhabitants dare to hope for a better world and actually develop an unshakable determination to bring into fruition that vision of betterment, only then will we will regain control of our future and unseat the crazies currently steering the Mother Ship. So … will you begin your Butterfly Effect today?

… and as you consider this, remember to focus on the good things in Life!

The Punishment of Rewards …

This week, I wanted to give some thought to motivation … what it is, what it isn’t, and how to create it. Frequently elusive, and  sometimes requiring extraordinary effort, finding the will to do (or not do) something can at times be exhausting. I mean, if we know that something needs to be done – whether a chore, an errand, a commitment, or some other ‘work’ type of task – shouldn’t that be enough to inspire us to just go do it? Wouldn’t you think so?

Unfortunately, it happens all too often that we delay, deflect, defer, or outright ignore the pending item – sometimes allowing it to become an irritant to an otherwise peaceful day. Sometimes we create a disappointment in others who were counting on us to deliver. And sometimes, we actually create an urgent or critical situation for ourselves through our own procrastination.

What a curiosity! Why would we knowingly do that?

Does it all Begin in Childhood?

When you were a child and had to face doing tasks like household chores or homework, what habits did you develop to create motivation? Can you remember? For example, in my family, if we didn’t contribute our assigned task to the running of the household, we had privileges removed … since my family wasn’t financially well-off and didn’t subscribe to an allowance per se, our consequences came most often in the form of being grounded. So, my motivation was to determine what the tipping point was between grounded and not, and invest only enough effort to stay just inside the realm of not grounded. But did I really do myself any favours?

Think about when you were in school … what was your objective there? Wasn’t it simply to ‘pass’ … or perhaps you selected a grade to shoot for, and all your effort went into pursuing that mark. But how well did that serve you? Did you retain very much of what you learned? Chances are, you did not. And studies have suggested that this is typically the case when the objective is the ‘end result’ rather than the journey to get there.

Focus on the Learning

In other words, had we been encouraged to focus on the learning – the expansion of our intellectual development, rather than on the desperation of getting ‘that’ mark – we might have embraced a whole different appreciation for achievement and motivation. We might have developed a childhood eagerness to fulfill our potential, rather than worrying about “is that going to be on the exam?

And we might have carried that eagerness into adulthood with a completely different attitude about building our future and being responsible for living up to our highest ideals.

Instead, many of us have realized that our confidence levels are not as strong as we perhaps need them to be. We’re not really convinced of our capabilities, because we were never encouraged as children to meet or exceed them – we instead focused on pre-defined outcomes, such as grades. Had we been encouraged rather to focus on the knowledge or content of our education, and then allowed to explore what we could or could not deduce from it, our strengths and weaknesses would be much more clearly defined – as would our natural interests and potential. Far fewer of us would reach a point in our lives where we struggle for self improvement and motivation, where we’re wondering what to do with our lives. We would have been developing our direction naturally throughout the years.

The Punishment of Rewards

So when we physically reward our children for getting that ‘A’ or for doing their homework or chores, are we shifting their motivation from the satisfaction and pride of achieving their goal or assuming responsibility, to instead focusing on the acquisition of a reward … their allowance, their privileges, or some other gift? Are we contributing to their personal development and potential, or are we simply paying them off for successfully running the gauntlet of school?

If we find it hard to create our own motivation when we face tasks that we ‘don’t feel like doing,’ then by raising them how we were raised, won’t they face the same challenge at some point … and not have the tools to do much better than us?

To a certain degree, surely it requires self-discipline … perhaps even inspiration. But where else does motivation come from? Is it all in the attitude (“I want to …” versus “I have to …”)? Or is it deeper than that? As coaches, we strive to help our clients become more motivated … but if they have no motivational culture to draw upon, our task becomes significantly harder.

What tactics do you employ when you need to create motivation? Especially during those moments when you want to just relax and read a book, not do chores or return phone calls … how do you get to the bottom of your list each day? Use the comment box below to share some of your techniques …

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the good things in Life!

When All That’s Left Is Goodbye

We live in a world that’s richly diverse in both culture and community, with hundreds of languages, social norms, and political stripes. Although there are many differences and so much misunderstanding … there is at least one reality that connects each of us, regardless of who we are or where we live – that day when we have to face a hard goodbye.

Goodbyes come in many disguises, and not all are unwelcome … but when we have to say a final goodbye to someone we cherish, there is rarely a deeper pain. This kind of goodbye is the one that sends a loved one away … to another city, to another’s arms, or perhaps to ‘the other side’ … whatever your perception of that may be. It represents a personal loss – one that pierces deeply into our hopes, our dreams or our expectations.

It doesn’t matter what your country or ethnicity may be, everyone grieves the loss of a loved one. Heartache has no respect for geographical boundaries; tears of sorrow and anguish need no lexicon. But goodbyes are inevitable, aren’t they? I mean, ultimately we have to know there will come a day when we each will stand alone. A day when time catches up with us and we will either be the one leaving or the one left behind – either by health or tragic circumstance.

Yet despite knowing this, many of us still have trouble letting go of petty issues – those grudges or resentments that do nothing but rob us of precious time with those we care about. We waste so much time and energy seeking to be right, when instead we could be seeking to develop an appreciation for a different perspective … or learning to accept and even embrace a quirky, colourful character.

So … what will it take for us to stay present in the moment and focus on where we are, rather than where we were or what we’ve lost? How do we manage to balance the challenges of our daily temperament against the inevitability of our own impermanence … to treasure our loved ones without sacrificing our sanity? Does it just come down to patience? Tolerance? Surrender?

It wouldn’t be healthy to live each day with a sense of fatalism … there’s no balance in that – and it could even unhinge us emotionally. But somehow, there must be a way to find the compromise between cherishing a loved one by honouring their presence in our Life, and managing our interactions with them when we don’t share their viewpoints or values.

When it comes your turn to say that hard goodbye, how will you face your loss? Will you have regrets? Will you get mired in “should haves” and “could haves”? Or will you know in your heart that you honoured and respected that Life and valued all the ways that it enriched your own? If these questions resonate with you, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comment box below …

… and as you contemplate this, remember to focus on the good things in Life!

Mine Eyes Have Seen …

This week, I was given several opportunities to practice being patient … and as simple as that might sound, it turned into a bit of a challenge. So I began to wonder … how successfully do most of us actually manage situations that require us to be patient and wait for things to unfold in their own time? I thought this might make a good subject for today’s article.

For me, I discovered that my patience can be rather finite … that is, I’m happy to extend it, but only up to a point – beyond which, I am decidedly im-patient. Not that it changes anything, because quite often I’m not able to influence the speed at which things occur, anyway. In retrospect, I have to wonder how it is that I calculate the measure of my willingness to wait – what criteria do I use to determine what’s long enough and what’s too long? It’s a curious thing …

So, where does it come from, this patience thing?

As I followed this line of reasoning, I had to ask myself how and when do we actually develop patience … when do we learn about it? I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t get particularly well-established during childhood, because children have at their disposal all manner of behaviours that can immediately influence their instant gratification … crying, fussing, tantrums, etc.  Now, I don’t really recommend these antics for adults – although we might be surprised how often our reactions do bear a similarity.

So patience, then, must be characteristic of becoming an adult – right? Or is that more likely to be ‘tolerance’? Haven’t we learned – through trial and error, presumably – which reactions and behaviours are appropriate to a situation, and which are not? But is that really patience? Behaviour modification and situational tolerance, maybe – but probably not patience in the true sense of the word.

How long is your fuse? …

Well, how do we define patience, then? For me, patience is very closely related to curiosity. And while it’s true that there are days when I have more curiosity than others, overall I find it helps if I look at the situation as an information-gathering process. For example, the other day I was standing in the check-out line at the grocery store. A frail and elderly woman was at the cash and was struggling to remember her PIN number on her debit card, trying all kinds of combinations. Then, clearly frazzled, she dumped out some credit cards, none of which had enough head room to cover her grocery bill.

The three people in front of me grew restless as the moments passed. Then that restlessness quickly turned into impatience, after which came annoyance and soon after, some unkind remarks. Within minutes of this unfolding, they moved when another line opened up. And I could have joined them, but I wanted to see how long it was going to take for this ‘drama’ to resolve – call it curiosity, I suppose. I was in no particular hurry – which might have helped my patience that day, I admit – but I had become invested in this old gal’s outcome.

What really amazed me was how patiently the cashier was assuring the woman – who was painfully embarrassed by the inconvenience she was causing. Eventually, it was determined that the old gal had enough cash to pay the bill, and so that’s how it resolved. But I thought the interim was a fascinating study in human dynamics – my own, and everyone else’s.

There’s always a Lesson … if you look for it.

So to me, patience is linked to a willingness to see how long something will take in the natural flow of things … it allows us to simply observe and acknowledge, rather than resorting to fuss and bother – especially if we’re not in control of the situation. Applied properly, such acquired understanding should inform our ability to anticipate future similar situations and make different choices, if we know we’re short on time – and there’s that Lesson thing, again.

When you think of being in a situation like this, where someone or something is making you wait for your outcome, what is your calculation for determining how long is too long? And what is your typical reaction? If you are able to see the cause of your delay,  would your humanity compel you to offer assistance (or understanding) or would you simply begin to fuss? How long is your ‘patience quotient’ and what influences it? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box below …

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the good things in Life!

Truth … or Consequences?

Just like in the popular game show of yesteryear, the phrase “truth or consequences” suggests an option of a ‘known’ versus an ‘unknown’ decision … and that whichever you choose, you must live with the outcome.

In my experience, Life is very much just like that. We get to make choices all day long, week by week and year by year. Some might even say that the quality of our Life can be measured by the sum of the choices we make. If this is true, it puts quite a lot of responsibility on the process of decision-making, doesn’t it?

First, the Truth …

But what does it actually mean to live one’s Truth? Is it referring to whether or not we ever lie? And if so, is there really always a consequence to every little fib we might tell – even if the fib is offered to spare someone’s feelings, or to smooth over an awkward moment? Or does living one’s Truth point a little bit deeper … say, into one’s conscience, character or morals? Perhaps it can be both – and all the spaces in between.

In coaching, we often use the phrase “living authentically” … I even referred to this in a previous article. But what does that really mean? My belief is that living authentically connects us to our Truth … and this includes being clear on what we want from Life, and what we’re willing to contribute to it; how we treat people, and how we expect to be treated in return; living in alignment with what our values are, and not abdicating those values for the sake of popularity or convenience.

Then, the Consequences …

It’s often tempting to allow others to influence us, particularly if we have a vested interest in impressing or pleasing them. This is where Consequences come into play, and often regrettably so. Sadly, decisions made this way can often lead to regrets, which in turn can lead to depression and blaming … and a host of other negative possibilities. For example, imagine that you allowed yourself to be persuaded into a decision that has a negative outcome – a decision that, without outside influence, you might have taken differently. Isn’t there a temptation to blame the other person for ‘making’ you choose wrong?

Not only does this lead to conflict between you and the person you allowed to persuade you, it also tends to convince you that you’ve become some kind of victim and thereby are not accountable for the decision – which, of course, is a patent un-Truth. Personal choices are ours and ours alone – we are the only ones responsible for accepting or rejecting any kind of influence, and living in Truth requires us to own that.

And finally, the Lesson …

I’ve talked about the futility of regrets in other articles, so I won’t go into that again – except to restate that mistakes are the greatest teachers we’ll ever have in Life. Making a mistake or a misjudgement can have a serious outcome, it’s true … but finding the lesson allows us to at least recover some value from that misstep. And lessons can be a great contributor to helping us find our Truth, for they often lead us back into alignment with that which is deeply in our heart.

As you evaluate your own Truth, and consider how much of it influences your Life, why not ask yourself one simple question: if you are not now living the Life you want to live, at what point do you plan to begin doing so?

and while you consider this, remember to focus on the good things in Life!

We All Have Just 24 Hours …

When you start to think about ways you could make improvements to your life, what sorts of images come to mind? Do you fantasize about what it would be like to win a lottery? (I confess, I sometimes do … it can be a lot of fun to dream!) Do you focus on the water already under the bridge? Or do you look ahead at the water that’s yet to flow? Is your glass half-empty, or half-full – or do you even have a glass?

There are many different ways to consider these questions, I know … but by far, the most important answer is your answer – the one that’s right for you. It can be very tempting to buy into the emotional trap of thinking that good fortune only favours ‘others’ … the wealthy, the highly-educated, or the socially established. How many times do you catch yourself thinking “Sure, it’s easy for them – they (… fill in the blank with an appropriate excuse), and that’s why they’re successful in life.”

The truth is … you may be right, to a certain degree. Some people are born into privilege, it’s true. But the majority of success stories, surely, are of people who have simply worked hard, sacrificed what was required, made smart decisions along the way – and yes, enjoyed a bit of good luck every now and again. If you ask them, though, they’ll tell you they earned every milestone along that path to their ideal life. They somehow found the courage to face all their challenges square-on and, in spite of the odds, they never backed down. They put their time in and searched for the answers that opened the door to their next milestone, and then to the next … until they finally built the life they wanted.

The fact of the matter is that we all have the very same 24-hour period in each day. So why is it that some people can do so much more with their time than can others? Don’t we all know people who work really hard, and put in long hours at their job – isn’t that enough? Well, I would guess not … because so many of those hard-working people are still not living the life they’ve always envisioned for themselves – the life that would make them feel ‘in control and successful’ …

What’s missing, then? Could it be that they aren’t clever enough? That they aren’t applying their smarts to their desired outcome? Well, possibly that’s part of it. The concept of ‘work smarter, not harder’ could be a factor here. But what if it simply comes down to ‘belief’?? Do they believe they can create the life they want – that they can attain their goals? Do they believe themselves to be worthy? Are they more afraid of success than of failure? For some people, failure – or perhaps more accurately, absence of success – may have become an acquired norm. Have they become comfortable with what they know, how they live, what their routine is? Stepping outside of that routine could put a wrench into the works. People would then have to become accountable for the changes they’re trying to make … and this can be enough to overwhelm even the stoutest heart, if you lack belief in yourself. It can sometimes be easier to just stay put, accept the life you’ve managed to carve out, and be satisfied with that. And yet, you might still have a nagging sense that your life could be more, if only … something wasn’t missing.

Does any part of this resonate with you on some level? Because if it does, it might be your conscience urging you to take another look at those dreams you’ve tucked away, and re-assess whether they’ve become a little more achievable at this stage of your life. When is the last time you fearlessly evaluated your priorities to make sure you’re living in alignment with what’s truly in your heart?

That’s what we coaches would call “living authentically” … and it hasn’t anything to do with how much money you earn or how large your house is. It has only to do with living the life you love and loving the life you live. If you can say that you’re doing this, then you are indeed using your 24 hours masterfully. If not, then there’s no time like the present to begin that self-evaluation … to get clear on where you are, where you want to be, and what that gap looks like. Once you are clear on this, then you too can set out to earn your milestones and step into the life you’ve always wanted. You’re only limited by your determination.

… and in the meantime, remember to stay focused on the good things in Life!

What Good Are Regrets?

Recently, when I was catching up on my Facebook reading, I received a Friend request by someone from my hometown who remembered me, but whom I didn’t really recall – but I accepted anyway. We chatted briefly, and found some interesting commonalities between us, but that was about it.

A little later on, though, I returned to her Facebook page to see if I could elicit any further memories by looking at who her Friends included, and I came face to face with a recollection I could well have done without. There, smiling back sweetly, was the face of someone who made my high school days a virtual torment – the ringleader of a pack of bullies.

But what was even more startling was my reaction to seeing her photo … because this all happened about 45 years ago! Obviously, I haven’t processed as much of those early years as I’d thought – and this is something I find very interesting, for I was so confident I’d already cleared away all of that bad energy.

So … where to, from here?

This has provided me some definite food for thought, and it also made me wonder if any of my readers have simply smoothed over some rough patches from their earlier days, without ever having actually processed them. When you look back on it, do you see memories you’d rather not look at? If you do have that reaction, you might want to dig just a little bit deeper … because whether you’re aware or not, your deepest conscience records everything – and will most often choose the least convenient time to remind you of some unfinished emotional business … even if it manifests as something unrelated.

If you find yourself at some point becoming a little bit cranky or simply less patient and content than usual, but you can’t see any reason for it, there might be some value in looking back into the archives of your mind to see if you do have some unresolved issues – perhaps you’ve got some guilt about something, or maybe you’re holding a grudge and it’s closing in on you. These are the kind of nagging reflections that can wear away your peace of mind and leave you confounded.

Whether these memories would necessarily qualify as regrets, only you can know. But realistically, can anyone expect to get through life never having had misgivings? Quite likely not. So then, what is the lesson? Well, like so many other lessons in life, it’s not so much what you’ve done that counts – it’s what you do ABOUT what you’ve done … that’s the key. So if it takes a regret to motivate you into making an amends for a past wrong – or for releasing and forgiving a wrong against you – then regret is a good thing. However, if you find yourself bothered by a regret, but you remain unwilling to resolve it, then you might one day find yourself looking down at a photo and being startled by how quickly your conscience revisits a painful moment hidden deep in your history. And then, like me, you’ll realize you’re still a work in progress …

… but as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the good things in Life!

It’s All In The Attitude …

If there is one thing in life that we can rely on, it’s that things rarely unfold completely according to our expectations. Not all things, of course – sometimes things do go pretty much as planned. But often, these are the little things. What about things of greater significance? How do those unfold for you?

If something important works out for you, is it Luck? Coincidence? The Law of Attraction? Or is it part of a Divine Plan? On the other hand, if it doesn’t work out for you, what’s responsible for that? Would that be just the opposite? I’m not sure we can find a definitive answer for this question – it probably depends on your personal philosophy, or your own belief system.

But … What Does It All Mean?

Years ago, I read a book called the Celestine Prophecy, and the message it delivered was that there’s no such thing as Luck or Coincidence. Everything happens for a reason, it assures us. But is that true? Are all the people who are meant to be in your life already somehow lined up and waiting for your paths to cross? Does that mean that you, too, are meant to be in someone else’s life and are unknowingly waiting for them to arrive?  Well, what if they’re late? Does that mean that you’re stuck until they get there? And what if that means you miss connecting with someone else you’re supposed to cross paths with? Hmm … I think you can see how quickly that philosophy unravels, so I wouldn’t put much faith in it. It was a fun read, however.

So if we can’t entirely rule out Luck or Coincidence, what about the Law of Attraction? This is a popular philosophy these days, and tells us that what we focus on, we manifest. They say it’s an energy thing, because magnetic fields basically control the earth. But can our minds really tap into this energy field and use it to our advantage? Well, it’s pretty hard to prove, but in my experience, people with a positive attitude are generally having more happiness and satisfaction in their lives than people with a negative attitude. They’re more relaxed, healthier, and more social. And people tend to enjoy being around them.  Is this because they attract what they focus on? Or are they simply more likely to be happy with whatever comes their way?

Don’t Sabotage Your Potential for Success …

I look at it this way – if I stay positive, I leave myself open to all possibilities. I regard nothing as outside of the art of the achievable, so I don’t sabotage fragile potential. But if I stay negative, I have already turned away from believing in potential, and now I’m back to Luck or Coincidence – both of which are passive resignation and the rough equivalent of ‘whatever’. I think I would rather place my efforts on creating opportunities from potential, because that involves me in the outcome. I get to make choices that will favour my prospects. And a positive attitude also allows me to build momentum on any outcome that doesn’t quite match my hopes – but with a negative attitude, much like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, I’m reluctant to even try. My eyes and my mind will be closed to possibility, because a negative attitude expects success cannot be manifested by Attraction.

And then there’s Divine Plan … but I’m well out of my league when it comes to debating that. I will say, however, that even the Scriptures say “the Lord helps those who help themselves.” And this sounds a lot like the Law of Attraction to me … staying open to possibilities, being alert to creating opportunity from potential, taking responsibility for our success, and focusing on the positive in any situation.

So … when you look at how your own life is unfolding, and you’re wondering why some things don’t work out quite the way you had hoped, perhaps it’s time to take a look at your Attitude and make sure it’s not impeding your desired outcome.

… and in the meantime, remember to stay focused on the good things in Life …

When Trouble This Way Comes

In the entire history of the world, I’m sure there are very few lives that have never been touched by ‘trouble’ … it seems an almost inevitable counter-balance to ‘joy’ or ‘peace’, or however the opposite of trouble is defined in your own vernacular. What intrigues me, though, is not the inevitability of trouble, but rather how we choose to respond to it. This is what I want to write about today …

As I gave some thought to ‘trouble‘, I began to notice a pattern … and I wondered: how often do we point to outside forces – other people – as being the author of our ‘trouble’? Someone made us mad, betrayed us, cheated us. Someone bullied us, intimidated us, disappointed us. ‘They’ have caused us to behave badly. It’s not our fault … we were victimized and forced to respond out of character. Somebody else is responsible – not us. We are justified!

Does any of this sound familiar? How easily do we give our personal power over to someone else – some outside perpetrator of our ‘trouble’? What would our day be like if we chose a different reaction than blaming others? What if we didn’t turn our emotional power over to ‘them’?   What if, instead, we stepped back and pondered our role in that emotional transaction? If someone made us mad, how did that come about – is it because they simply did not meet our expectations? Perhaps we expected too much from them – is that their fault? If we were betrayed, did we really not see that coming? Or did we choose to ignore the early signs of ‘trouble’, hoping somehow things would magically work out? Many people will confess to this, when discussing it in retrospect.

Perhaps we need to redefine our criteria for ‘trust’ and how we grant it. But hasn’t that always been our responsibility? Aren’t we the gatekeepers of our own vulnerability?  If ‘someone’ has indeed brought trouble into our life – as sometimes does happen, I know – is there anything wrong with blaming them? Well, in my experience, blaming is little more than seeking to absolve us of our own failure to protect ourselves. Somehow, that makes us feel less ‘bad’ about it – but what if instead of blaming, we examined how we might have avoided that outcome in the first place? Wouldn’t that be more useful? Hiding behind blame does little to bring all the facts to light, and only keeps us from recognizing where we might have made a different choice along the way. How do we learn to avoid future ‘trouble’ if we always blame it on someone else?

When we hear that little voice inside our head cautioning us about something, we should usually take a moment to check out its message. How often do we revisit those ‘feelings’ after the fact, and admonish ourselves for ignoring them? Where do those voices come from, anyway, and what makes them so smart? The Greek philosopher Plato once said “Thinking is the soul talking to itself.”  Why not let those conversations develop and see where they lead?  I’ve read that our thoughts lead to our feelings … which in turn lead to our actions … which equal our results.

But how often do we get the order of that process mixed up so that, instead, we let our feelings guide our actions … which lead to our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves … and which then will often lead to a result we don’t want.  See how the order can affect our results? Far better to remain mindful of  our personal power and the importance of managing our thoughts, our feelings, our actions and, subsequently, our results.

So when ‘trouble’ finds you, try to find the lesson in it, instead of deflecting responsibility. Contemplate where a different choice might have led to a better result, and learn from it. Regardless of who has visited the trouble upon you, remember … blame changes nothing, but reflection can help you find value in the lesson. Find that value, file it for future reference, and then move on.

… and while doing this, remember to also ponder the good things in Life!

Three Little Words …

When you hear reference to “three little words”, what image comes to your mind? Do your thoughts go immediately to the oft-used cliche of “I Love You” … or have you got a different three-word phrase that you think of?

As I stopped to consider my own answer to this, I quickly realized that although saying “I Love You” right out loud is certainly one of my favourites, there are many other three-word phrases that we frequently use in our daily vernacular, and which carry great importance in our ability to express affection. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look at a few of them and see how many times we use them – perhaps without even being aware – as another way of actually saying “I Love You” … except without the possible awkwardness when we’re not entirely sure how our message will be received.

Where should we begin, then? How about when we say “Are You Okay?” … is that not at least coming from some sort of “I care about you …” ? And what about “Let Me Help” … for who would offer to assist someone they had no concern for? Even a simple “I Hear You” offers an affectionate consolation of sorts.

There are other three-word phrases that carry a loving message: “I Miss You” is a good example – it’s hard to miss someone you don’t care about, isn’t it? And even something as simple as “Come Join Us” extends some affection to another person – often in such a timely way, we’re hardly aware of the power behind it … because it suggests more than a temporary invitation. It points to another unstated three-word phrase that can lift someone’s spirit, like “Be My Friend” or “You Have Value” …

But there’s one three-word phrase that is absolutely key in anyone’s personal vernacular, whether it’s actually stated or simply implied … “Please Forgive Me”. The power behind that phrase cannot be understated, because it expresses not just remorse for a wrong – it expresses Love, through a demonstrated compassion for the person who was slighted, and seeks Love in return, through Grace. Without some measure of Love behind it, there would be no use in even speaking it.

The point I’m trying to make is that we have so many ways of re-framing that all-important – but frequently cliched – sentiment of “I Love You”, it’s really quite amazing. I can’t think of another emotion that can be expressed in so many ways than saying “I Love You” without actually saying “I Love You” … and still, we somehow manage to get our message across.

What are some three-word phrases you rely on to carry your particular “I Love You” to people within your social circle? There are people within my social community who get very uncomfortable being on the receiving end of a blatant “I Love You”, but who will happily embrace its camouflaged reflection.  Do you use any of these examples, or do you have others that more covertly express your affection for someone, without actually saying the words out loud? It would be interesting to read your comments on this subject …

… and while you consider this, remember to also stay focused on the good things in Life!