Thursday, December 13, 2012

I have noticed that a lot of readers are still coming to this blog.  The newer posts and the older posts are now at the following address http://

You will be redirected shortly.

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy the new location.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Words That Will Inspire You to Try New Things

A great place to be.... really be.

Sometimes I gain quiet encouragement from the thoughts of those whom I admire. I wanted to share some of my favorites. I love where it says below that all life is an experiment.  Takes away some of the fear, to know I am just experimenting and not making crucial, life changing decisions.

In life, its rarely about getting a chance; its about taking a chance. You'll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won't work. Most of the time you just have to go for it! And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
Markesa Yeager

The most unfortunate thing that happens to a person who fears failure is that he limits himself by becoming afraid to try anything new.
Leo Buscaglia quotes 

Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first.
Frederick B Wilcox quotes

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced.
Swami Vivekananda quotes 
Do one thing every day that scares you.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

The need to be right all the time is the biggest barrier to new ideas.
- Edward De Bono

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.

With our thoughts, we make our world. Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

We can learn to move into the unknown with the confidence that we have a guiding force within us that is showing us the way.
- Shakti Gawain

You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.
- David Viscott

Photo credit

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Holy Grail of Happy

Trying New Things has become like second nature to me now. I started out by deciding to try new things each day.  I planned in the morning what that new thing would be. And now, I do not have to plan anymore. Every day my mind searches for that new thing to spice up my day.  It is on auto pilot now.  I no longer have to think about it. 

But when I see the 'new' thing for the day, it makes me smile. I head into whatever it is, large or small with an optimism and yes....happiness.

Happiness is the holy grail these days.  We search for happiness.  Really?

Next time, when you are actually in a place where you feel immensely happy, make your mind go still and identify where that feeling of happiness is coming from.  If you are like me, that feeling is coming from inside of you. Maybe from the physical area associated with your heart. Coincidence that the icon of a heart and happiness are associated in the social consciousness. I think not.

So if the feeling of happy is coming from inside you, that means you have created it. Happiness is created, not found.  Found implies that it is out there, for your to seek and take. A limited supply. But it is actually a feeling that you can create and experience.  It is also, happily, ubiquitous. The source is deep and flowing. Your happiness does not subtract from the universal happiness.  In fact it adds to others ability to feel the same way.

We need not to search for happiness but instead to create it and experience it on our own terms.

In her column today, Barrie Davenport speaks of being uncool and how it lets us live a life on our own terms instead of one that was officially cool. She quotes Dr. Brene Brown who likens a life of cool, to a life lived constantly in Spanx. Looking good on the outside, but feeling squeezed and constricted on the inside. Cool is not cool when you get clear on what you need.

So trying new things let's us discover the things that make us feel our deepest core of happiness inside. It lets us redefine cool for ourselves and recreate the world on our own terms. Each new thing you do gets filed as life affirming in an uncool way, or non life affirming and therefore discarded. To be happy make your life interesting.

Your life won't suddenly be happy.  It won't always be happy. But you gradually emerge into that new place where there exists a ever present steady heartbeat of happiness, that is indestructible. Now that is cool....

Friday, June 15, 2012

Let Your Real Strengths Shine Through

Finding Your Strengths

Marcus Buckingham wrote several excellent books on Finding and Living your strengths. The reason that his books are breakthrough though, is not just because they help you find yourself. (Were you lost?)

His books are breakthrough because of the main premise on which he builds his whole process.

A strength is not necessarily what you are good at but rather a strength is something that makes you feel strong.

When you first read it you may well be underwhelmed given the huge workup I gave it in the opening paragraph.  But go back and read it again.

The first time I read it, I did read it again because it seemed so much a non event.  But when you assimilate the meaning of a strength being what makes you feel strong versus what you are good at it makes you stop in your tracks.

Knowing this Can Change Your Life!

Or knowing this can let you change your life in a direction that honours who you are. 

When I think about my strengths, I think I am good at selling; I am pretty good at communicating with others; I am knowledgeable about nutrition and fitness; and I am good at supporting people when they experience a crisis.  There are probably more but I am really sounding less than modest at this point. 

Some of these are strengths in the typical sense of the word and some of them are things that make me feel good.

They are how I define myself.  Good at this; not so good at that. Like a frightening job interview. We form a fixed picture of what we are good at by the time we reach middle age.  As a child certain qualities get reinforced and others go unrecognized. Unfortunately related to people who probably had our best interests in mind.

In our childish search for approval some of our unrecognized strengths, as in the ones that make us feel good, get buried away even from our own view. Then at midlife those true strengths, the ones that make you feel strong, resurface and demand our attention.

The constant mellifluous murmur of our souls.

I am in Sales and I have been for my entire career in one way or another. I have been quite good at it, so I assumed it might be a strength.  But it is not something that made me feel good. And I do it everyday. So then, is it a strength? 

I remember when I took my first job in a restaurant, a friend said to my mother, "Great that will help her break out of her shyness". Not sure why that one stuck with me. This was the beginning of denying the self that was not acceptable to share with the world.  Was I shy or introverted? And BTW introverted is not a weakness.

I spent my lifetime learning how to work a room and now I am quite excellent at it.  But it is not a strength because it never feels good. 

Defining Your Strengths

So how do we define what our true strengths are? It is a tough one because we get all tangled up in the things that we do well but that do not make us feel good.

Look for the things that when you think of them they make you smile.

When you think of doing them you feel your body relax and breathe. 

That feeling of being free and untethered. You will feel your power when you think of a strength in the new definition of the word.

It just feels good.

And Peaceful.

And powerful in a nondestructive sense of the word.

And Easy.

Like a jazz saxaphone solo on high volume.

Nobody can really tell you what they are because true strengths make you feel strong when you are doing them but they are not identifiable from the outside.

I feel strong when I write, when I run, when I support someone in crisis. And I feel strong when I am alone. (Not all the time though)

Try a few on and listen to your heartsong. Thing about what you do for a living and ask if it makes you feel strong. (Or maybe we shouldn't look at this one too closely!)

And easy.

And power full.

And peaceful.

And add them to your life because feeling strong is what it's all about.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Follow Your Passion. Really?

I have been reading a lot of different articles about following your passion and finding a job that makes your heart sing. Really? Is it possible to actually have a job that suits your passion. A job that is actually your passion?

 I think musicians find that their job is their passion and maybe artists too. I have a friend that is a super editor/copywriter and she started a business that is totally her passion. I know a twenty something man who is moving speedily upward in a funky SEO company and he loves his job. These people get paid to do what they are passionate about.

When you are in your twenties there are a lot of jobs that light us up. So what happens as we age. Do we get jaded? What does that really mean though? The same job that once made us happy no longer does. Is the secret to remaining passionate on a job then to change jobs frequently?

Barry Schwartz in his TED talk on happiness suggests that having too many choices makes happiness elusive. That the secret of happiness comes from fewer choices. His studies suggest that as choices multiply, so do our expectations. The secret to happiness, according to Schwartz is lower expectations. Hmmmm.... Lower expectations, fewer choices. If there are fewer choices we are indeed more easily satisfied with where we end up. When you have the whole world to choose from there will always be the road not taken.

As we age, we get increasingly altruistic, and more focused on the things that make us truly tick and are thus, we are unwilling to spend the majority of our day doing things that do not align with the person we are becoming. And our purpose that is becoming clearer.

This is where there sits a huge leap of faith.  There are those who make the leap and find new meaning and there are those who remain in their safe place with their safe income but not their passion.  It is a trade off for sure.  Those who go, often trade money for passion and settle with earning less in the beginning.

But there are ways through multiple streams of income to define multiple paths that make your heart sing and do a little bit of each.  The end result is that you are spending most of your time doing fulfilling work and your sum total income could possibly touch your income in your previous life of passionless work. Definitely worth a second look.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jump and the Net Will Appear

"In seeking our freedom we liberate our potential to accomplish incredible things" Danielle La Porte in Fire Starter Sessions .

When we are young we have a true appreciation of our freedom. Freedom of movement, to sing out loud, to run all day without a destination, to approach strangers because you think you might want to know them.

When we get older we have trouble defining what true freedom can look like.  We have responsibilities, jobs, kids and mortgages that limit our willingness to think about freedom as anything other than a dream. Freedom appears 'out there' as something that is no longer possible because of the decisions we have made.  Or is it?

If freedom liberates our potential to accomplish incredible things then can you just leap and hope you will find your incredible thing?  Sounds scary.  Finding your incredible thing seems like the wisdom of the self help gurus online and I always envisioned that I might be the exception to the ``Jump and the net will appear`` idea. As the exception to this exciting idea, I land on the pavement of life with nothing to show for the fifty year stint to date. A risky proposition this jumping without a net.

So is there a temporary net that you can put out to at least buffer the fall if it does happen. Sometimes you get a push, in the form of a pink slip, and you go into free fall that was not of your own making. Other times you just have to jump. You can plan the jump timing though. And you can create a short term net to protect you until you explore and find your place in the new version that is your life.

I will detail some ideas for that short term net in posts to come.  There are lots of them.

So sign up to receive free regular updates to my blog so you won`t miss the great ideas that will let you create your own path to freedom.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Try Something New for 30 Days

"The next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, so why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot for the next 30 days?” (Matt Cutts)

I came across a great talk about Trying New Things on TED Talks.  If you have never been there check out TED talks just for the sheer fun of it.  Topics are endless and many are delivered by highly qualified people in their fields. This one though is just fun.  I like how he brings the idea of trying something new down to it's simplest components.

We all have the best of intentions in wanting to start tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and goes.  It is a matter, he says, of committing to doing something to move you toward your goal every day for a month. He claims that you can do anything if you only have to do it for a month.

Matt wanted to write a novel for years.  He wrote a book in 30 days by making sure to put 1667 words per day onto paper. He concurs that it may not have been the greatest novel but he did finish it.  Now he can edit the piece and he can also brag that he is a novelist.

He agrees with my previous blog post that we need to make small changes.  Small changes he says are sustainable. Big changes, although they can be a great rush, are not sustainable.

He ended up writing a novel and climbing Kilimanjaro and getting in shape by making small changes towards the goal each day for thirty days.

He concludes that time becomes more meaningful and that his self confidence soared because of all he had achieved by doing small things each day. So there were some unexpected benefits besides the actual goal attainment.

I am doing this 30 day challenge to get myself to the starting line of a half marathon with my son who is running the full marathon on May 9th. I will update you throughout the month to let you know my progress and see if the phrase "you can do anything if it is only for 30 days" is true.

What have you been putting off. What goals do you have percolating in the back of your mind.  Bring them out into the daylight and put them to the thirty day challenge. If you don't make the whole 30 days you will still be that little bit closer to the goal. And when the goal has a light shining on it, we tend to look at it every which way and figure out what we need to do to make it happen.

30 days. Imagine how your life could be different in 30 days.

I will leave you with a profound quote that reminds us why we need goals. I have no reference so if anyone knows who said this just put it into the comments and I would love to give credit for this life changing quote.

"In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until we ultimately become enslaved by it." Hmmmm......scary.

Watch the video as there is much more content in the actual video. Simple but amazing.

Here is the link.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nothing Days are Productive Days

I recently had a day where I did nothing.  The entire day passed with reasonable activity but nothing I would have remotely classified as an accomplishment. Read a novel, walked my dog, went for a run, shopped for a new recipe I wanted to make. I had fun that day, no doubt about it but when it was over I had a sense that I had wasted it.

So how do we determine what is a productive day and what is not a productive day. Is it a list item that gets ticked off the never ending list?  Is there a monetary association with anything that gets classified as productive? As in, if I did not make money then it was not a productive day? Maybe it involves moving a project forward in a significant way. But this one leaves us open to believing that we did not accomplish anything, if we tried something new, but it did not work out.

Sometimes there is a monetary association with accomplishing something.  This is easy to classify as an accomplishment.  I went to work and made $$ so I accomplished something today.  What about exercising?  I went for a run or worked out and so I accomplished something today. Those are easy.

What if we redefined a productive day as one which allowed us to heal our mind and our body?  Then a whole other group of activities suddenly become relevant. In that logic do our workday activities then qualify as part of a productive day?  Probably not. 

Does sitting by the fire reading a great book qualify as an accomplishment?  You bet. Taking a long walk on a sunny breezy day also qualifies as an accomplishment if our goal is to heal our mind and body.  Creating healthy food qualifies as an accomplishment. Spending time with those you love becomes an accomplishment rather than something that gets squeezed in on the list. Trying something new, regardless of the result, becomes an activity worth pursuing.

There is no doubt that going to work and doing other things that we don't prefer needs to be done. But if we start with the definition of a productive day as one that heals our body and our mind then it can inspire all kinds of healing activities to hit the list. Getting more done at work takes a second place to a walking break in the middle of the day.

We need to know that healing days are not wasteful days. Idle times refresh our souls. Time spent doing things that nourish our souls, helps us to expand and grow.  And in this growth we become more than we were.  And more than we thought we could be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Humans on the Beach

The birds line up on the beach in perfect formation every day.  I have tried to figure out a rationale for why they do this.  They all face the same way and stand stoically facing into the wind.  They seem to have predesignated spots and they all know where they belong. I wonder what they are doing and how they know when to stand and when to fly off together at the same time? 

I was walking along the beach in St. Petersburg today and I had a few insights that I would like to share.  The first one is if an alien landed on the beach what would they think all these people, who are walking the beach, were doing?They would think we were a strange species and wonder what the purpose of this mass activity was. Just like me as I observe the birds.

The second thing that strikes me is that despite the number of hotels and increasing number of people on the beach, it remains pristine, clean and indistinguishable from a beach that would be vacant.  It is a beautiful beach and the numbers of people who use it does not change that wildness and beauty. It is a great testament to the intermittent altruism of the human race.

Thirdly, I have been walking on the beach every day.  Today was cold as far as beach days here go and there were far fewer people willing to brave the beach.  The wind blew hard and cold, relatively speaking, and the beach was wild and desolate and might even be disturbing to some.  I found it to be nature at its finest and although I wore a couple of sweatshirts and pulled up the hood, I still braved the beach at it's wildest.

This was my observation while I walked the beach that morning.  The few remaining people who came out showed a distinct level of camaraderie with each of the other brave souls on the beach.  This camaraderie exists on warm calm days but not in the same way.  It passes as a head nod on warm days.  Or the odd wave.  But today people spoke and stopped like we knew each other.  We shared a thought with every passer by.  It was uniquely different than all the other days out there.  I felt like part of a group who was uniquely capable of some sort of achievement that became a point of commonality between strangers on the beach.  There was no age or gender distinction just us and them.  Funny comment on our humanness.  When things are difficult we organize and align ourselves with each other.

Small microcosm of human behavior where in the bigger picture we have survived through the ages by grouping together to defeat a common foe.  When things are most difficult in the bigger scheme of things we help each other and we make connections that we might otherwise disdain or worse, ignore.

We are a funny race, we humans aren't we?  Maybe I just need to get back to work really soon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Would You Prefer a $5 Bottle of Wine or a $90 Bottle?

Antonio Rangel, an associate professor of economics at Caltech did a study in which the participants tried five red wines and rated them.  They showed a price for each of the wines ranging from $5 - $90.  As would be expected the participants rated the wines basically according to price. The higher priced wines were rated higher than the cheaper wines. The researchers had connected brain scan equipment that showed the activity in the pleasure centres of the brain were highly active when they tried the higher priced wines. The participants experienced more pleasure cognitively when they tried the expensive wines.

Here was the catch.  The $90 bottle of wine and the $10 bottle of wine were the same wine and yet the ratings showed the $90 bottle to be highly preferred and the $10 wine to be less preferred. The pleasure centres of the brain were significantly more active when tasting the $90 bottle versus the same wine labelled at $10. "The area of their brain that is thought to encode for the pleasantness of the experience was more active when they drank wine they believed had higher prices."

Now it makes sense that we consciously prefer the $90 bottle given our  past experiences that tell us that  a $90 bottle of wine will be better than a $10 bottle.  Add in that generally people want to be viewed as knowing a good thing when it is presented to them, and that higher price generally dictates a better wine. But how do we explain an actual physical reaction in the brain to a $90 bottle and a completely different physical reaction in the brain to that same wine with a $10 price tag.

The researchers concluded that "the brain encodes pleasure because it is useful for learning which activities to repeat and which ones to avoid, and good decision making requires good measures of the quality of an experience. But the brain is also a noisy environment, and thus, as a way of improving its measurements, it makes sense to add up other sources of information about the experience. In particular, if you are very sure cognitively that an experience is good (perhaps because of previous experiences), it makes sense to incorporate that into your current measurements of pleasure. Most people believe, quite correctly, that price and the quality of a wine are correlated, so it is therefore natural for the brain to factor price into an evaluation of a wine's taste."

It exposes how vulnerable we are to marketing and persuasion. Our brains, seeking to be efficient in evaluating our world, learn short cuts and in actuality that very efficiency encourages conformity as we seek to hurry through our environment and evaluate the endless choices offered. It also highlights that our expectations can create our experiences.  Our expectations can create a physical experience in our brain! This one has immense potential if we use it.

Just a note that when the same researchers had the participants evaluate the wines without price tags the highest pleasure centre activity came from the $5 bottle. Hmmmm....

I like studies like this as they make me become more conscious in how I choose.  I find it insanely fascinating when we get to watch our brains in action.  Years of learning layered in and influencing choices that we are unaware that we are even making. Seeing into our subconscious mind is enlightening.  It makes me want to see more and it changes the way I view my life.

Thanks to researchers at Caltech for sharing your experiences.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Things are Hard

It is interesting that no matter how much we try to focus on doing new things we always revert back to what is safe and comfortable.  We profess that we would like to shake things up a little by stepping out our groove and trying something new.

But that old familiar demon of fear stands before you with hands on hips, and challenges you on why would you want to do something new.  Why shake the status quo?  Why move out of this comfy little spot that you have worked so hard to create? Why try something that you don't really know how to do?

And you know that little demon is loud and intimidating and so you go back to that small place that you have stayed in for a very long time.  You go to work, watch television, sleep and eat and maybe, just maybe get to the gym here and there.  And you long to rattle that cage that you have created.

So, we need to challenge fear.  Most successful people say that they feel the fear and go forward anyway.

Fear of not succeeding, fear of looking foolish, fear of regretting a decision that you cannot go back on.  Life is full of these choices and we all make some wrong and some right.

But staying in one place and not making a decision to change, is still making a decision.  A decision to stay where you are.  A decision to not grow.  A decision not to try new things.

That makes not deciding almost as scary as deciding doesn't it.

Most people on their death beds regret the things they did not do, not the things they did.  Hmmm.....

Monday, January 2, 2012

10 Reasons to Try Something New Every Day

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new". Albert Einstein.

Two years ago I shook things up by trying to do something new every day. It was challenging to find something new every day but two years in, I have accomplished about 650 new things. (That is 70 short to compensate for the less than motivated days that creep in here and there. On those days old habits feel like just the right thing.)

These 650 new things ran the spectrum of trying a new wine to reading a new genre of book to trying a new menu item in an old restaurant. I took a Photography course to learn about all those cool buttons on my camera, I started a second blog, ran a new race that I had never gone into before and went cycling in Wine Country with friends. I ran on a new path while running, and tried new spices in new recipes. I spoke to people I might not have spoken to. 

So you see some of the new things were simple and instantaneous; others took time and commitment. But all of them took me out of my comfort zone even if it was just a tiny step out!  Admittedly though, I also did about 600 things wrong. Because when you try something new you make a lot of mistakes. 

And although that was not the reason for my quest, it turned out to be an amazing lesson for that safe little person who never likes to fail.We all start out trying new things when we are young. We try them with the excitement and abandonment of trying something new that is inherent in that age of discovery. 

As we get older we learn not to embarrass ourselves by doing something wrong and so we back away from things that are new and different. We learn to value what others think over learning new skills. And so we stop learning and recede to our safe little status quo. We do not try new things so we do not make any mistakes. Life is safe and maybe the days start to look the same.  And you wonder what happened to that exciting try almost anything person that you used to be.

So here are 10 really good reasons to Try Something New every day.

1.  It is exhilarating to try something new and different and see it through.  To accomplish what seemed to be hard.  There is no other feeling like looking back and realizing that you have this new skill in your portfolio. 

2.  Having multiple skills in your portfolio makes you interested and interesting. (which are two different things.)  You get jobs that you would not have gotten, you speak with people that you might not have had anything in common with and you go places that you did not even know were out there.

3.  One new experience leads to another and the sequence takes on a momentum of it's own, taking you on one adventure after another.  After the initial month or so new things start leading to other new things and the natural inertia that originally made this difficult, falls away.

4.  It takes the sameness out of each and every day.  You might say that you like the comfort of sameness but really that is inertia and that old comfort zone that you prefer. Resistance.  Staying in your comfort zone.  Most people when they blast through that initial inertia become addicted to the variety and stimulation of the path to trying new things.

5.  Trying new things gives you new found energy and it compounds itself as it takes hold.  Energy breeds more energy.  When you get stuck in a rut you lose touch with your personal energy. It emerges again when you try new things. And it comes roaring back when you begin the quest.

6.  Trying new things does not cost anything but gives big returns. We spend a lot of money trying to soothe the restless self inside of us.  Trying new things does not cost money but stirs your soul in ways you could never have imagined.

7.  Trying new things feels awkward and uncomfortable and exciting and pleasant all at the same time.  You plan to do it.  Then when the time comes to do it, you wonder why you set yourself up for all this worry and discomfort.  You feel the need to retreat and cancel.  But you must go forward towards that thing you fear because the other side feels so great!

8.  Trying new things makes you grow as a person.  You just cannot do 650 new things and still remain the same.  Your life is propelled forward in new directions and to new places. Big changes for small initiatives.

9.  You can change your life in repeated small ways. Huge changes, especially at first, are too fearsome to fathom so they never get done.  But small ones do.  And small ones accumulate to big changes.  And your confidence in your ability to handle change grows as you accomplish each small change. So you become confidant that you can handle increasingly bigger changes.  So you try them and succeed and your confidence grows.  

10.  Small changes let you make small mistakes and you learn that making mistakes is okay and that your world did not come undone because something did not work the first time.  Your natural instinct when something does not work is to put it away and not try it any more.  When you get on a path of trying new things, you expect to make mistakes and so you just keep failing your way to success. 

It turns out it is fun!  Making mistakes. Laughing at your attempts. Trying new things. Growing and changing. Learning.  Living. Gaining confidence.  What's not love about this process!  

Try one new thing each day.  Make them small at first so you can feel the vision of what bigger things will bring. Record them each day to keep you accountable and not to let too many 'same' days slip by.  

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