Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thought Stream

I was thinking while I was driving today. Spent 3 hours on the road listening to some jazz and thinking. I read a passage this morning while I drank my coffee and I spent time thinking about it. It was from a book called Fearless by Brenda Shoshanna. The 7 Principles of Peace of Mind. I want to review all 7 of her Principles but after I do, go get the book. It will make you feel fearless. And I will never do justice to just how great she is.

She calls Chapter 2 Letting Go of Attachment & Grasping. Even the title sounds desperate doesn't it. When I read the title I thought...I want to do that. She suggests that instead of finding change "thrilling & beautiful" we find it frightening and resist it. We hold on to the past in a desperate bid to keep our lives the same. We try to maintain the status quo and hold on to what is familiar to us. She does not just reiterate the same old stuff. Her thoughts are new and powerful and right on the mark.

She offers ways to work with our fear of change. Stay open to anything that comes into your day. Wanted or unwanted. Just open up and let it it. Watch it come and go. Hold on to nothing...just observe but let it flow by you. Easy to say. Tough to do. Not impossible. Just might take a little practice.

Some things that enter your life seem difficult and then turn out to be amazing after you work through them. Sometimes a gift in an awkward package. Some things that feel good turn out less than perfect. Reminds you not to evaluate but just to let life flow past. Funny that when you are able to let go a strange feeling of peace washes over you. A smile from deep inside. If only we could hold that thought and do that every day. Could be a game changer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Magical Outcomes

On the blog before last I talked about relaxing and not controlling outcomes. The business has had a huge breakthrough. We contacted several US companies to check out their interest in carrying the line. And then I actually practised what I preached. I let the outcomes happen. Some people we did not hear from, others were varying degrees of suitable but there was one that would have been perfect. Just let it happen. It was hard to do.

Here is the magic. Acting or not acting did not change the outcome. Just the obsessing. The outcome came exactly at the right time. The company that we deemed to be a perfect fit called and told us that they wanted to represent our line. The warehouse in the US has made it possible to ship from the US. We handle up front billing and inventory. The perfect scenario.

It will probably take us six months to roll out but the sales group covers about 40% of the US population. They seem like bright rational amiable people. Just like the Canadian group that works with us now. Just like our warehouse people who pack and ship for us. Just like our manufacturing contact in China. Lucky me.


I read somewhere that in order of priority, breath and choice are two of our most valuable treasures. The value of breath is obvious. Why would choice come so close on the list to a life sustaining biological function though? Choice directs our days, our thoughts, our lives. Wikipedia defines choice this way. "Choice consists of the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them." Sounds simple enough. Every moment is a choice. What colour socks to wear and in my younger son's case which two colours of socks to wear. To drive the highway or the backroads. To stop for coffee or get to the meeting on time. Endless choices each day. One after another. Driven to sameness by our tendency to make choices on autopilot. Reacting without thought, we float through our days.

We can choose to think positive. We can choose to be happy. We can choose to leave situations that do not feed our soul. Because by not choosing, you are still choosing. A profound thought, because when we do not choose to make a change, we are choosing to stay where we are. Spend a minute thinking about that in the context of what you want out of life. It is always easier to stay where you are. A funny thing that.

A friend showed me a cooking school in Tuscany today and it reminded me of the choices I am not making. My teenagers will always be my priority so when they are relatively independent I will need to make my choice to step off and go. I was reading about a woman who did make that choice and she said that there are great things and not so great things about the decision. I appreciated her honesty. But she does conclude that after five years of moving around she still is fulfilled by the experiences of trying new things. She says you are never so fully alive as when you are repeatedly experiencing new things, new foods and new places.

There is an entertaining blog about three women who leave their big New York ad agency jobs and travel the world. They too have no regrets. And a book to their credit.

Choices. We all make them. You make them every minute of the day. "Life is the sum of all your choices." ~Albert Camus

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How To Be Calm During the Storm

I love writing about fear. I just think it controls so much of who we are and what we do and say. A strange little undercurrent that wields tremendous power over who we become. Or not. Manifests itself in control, obsessions, conformity and other darker extremes. We may see them as just controlling our outcomes but regardless of what we call them, they are truly just fear masquerading as relatively socially acceptable forms of fear.

We are born wild and free. Then slowly we start to adjust our behaviors to avoid things that we learn to fear. This has a positive side in that it prevents us as children from climbing into a strangers car for instance. But on the other side, we learn to fear outcomes that never happen and maybe never will. We digest the fears of those around us and incorporate them into how we behave. We learn to fear the loss of love so we conform. We learn to control other people to achieve our desired outcomes. We get so good at it that eventually we no longer recognize who we are under all the layers of accomodation.

I am not a huge control person but I do manage outcomes through manipulating other's behavior. Subconciously. I think we all do. Even as toddlers we know intuitively how to do this. It gets more calculated as we get older but less transparent so that we do not even recognize it in ourselves. Fear of undesireable outcomes develops our skill at creating these desired outcomes through manipulating other people to help us to achieve our outcomes.

We want to be loved or liked so we withold an opinion that matters to us. We wish to be part of the group so we do what we might prefer not to do. Until eventually we become a little less than what we started out as. And after many years we can no longer uncover our essence. Fears and adaptive behaviors in so many layers that we cannot find ourselves underneath.

Try this next time before you respond. Notice your desire to gain a specific outcome from what is happening or what you are feeling. Now release the outcome and just be there. Let it happen. Hear what is said or feel your feelings without judgement. Flow with the current. Relax. Breathe.Smile. Know that whatever outcome is going to happen, will do so regardless of your desire to control it. Picture the difference between floating in a current and swimming against it and you understand why flow feels so much easier. Keep your brain quiet. No chatter. No words to add meaning or fault to an outcome. Silence.

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." Lao-Tzu. Kind of a cool feeling not to have to own every outcome.

Fear starts to slip away when you don't own the outcome. You see things as they are rather than through your filters of fear. Not being afraid liberates the person you are. Your gift to the world.
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